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Sapphire Radeon X1950 Pro

Sapphire Radeon X1950 Pro 256MB:

Core Clock: 580MHz
Memory Clock: 1400MHz
Warranty: 2 years (parts and labour)
Price: Around £135 including VAT

Sapphire’s Radeon X1950 Pro implementation is very similar to ATI’s reference design card, but Sapphire has decided to use a blue PCB inline with their corporate colours. The heatsink has also changed slightly from the reference design too – Sapphire has replaced the red heatsink cover with its own custom blue design, complete with Sapphire’s own artwork.

The bundle isn’t bad, but we’re a bit disappointed not to see Sapphire Select included. In terms of documentation and software, you get a comprehensive user manual (hard copy), a driver CD, a copy of PowerDVD 6 (2-channel edition) and a copy of The Da Vinci Code game. Although that sounds great, because the film was a pretty big hit, the game sadly isn’t as good as the film and is probably not worth spending much time playing – we’d sooner see Sapphire Select return in all honesty.

Sapphire Radeon X1950 Pro Sapphire Radeon X1950 Pro
Sapphire Radeon X1950 Pro Sapphire Radeon X1950 Pro
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Typically, Sapphire has done a good job on the cabling front. It has included cables for component, S-video, and composite cables to complement the card’s VIVO port. Along with the video cable options, there are a pair of DVI to VGA converters, a 6-pin PCI-Express power adapter and a CrossFire bridge interconnect. We have a pair of Sapphire Radeon X1950 Pro cards here and both came with one each. This makes complete sense, since you need a pair of CrossFire bridge interconnects in order to get CrossFire working on Radeon X1950 Pro.

The cooler attaches to the card in the same way that other Radeon X1000-series video card coolers do, so you'll be able to use any Radeon X1000-series cooling solutions. However, you will need to find some heatsinks to cover the card’s digital PWM’s that are actively cooled by the main heatsink/fan solution on the card. This is instead of the separate heatsink you get on other Radeon X1900 or Radeon X1950-series cards in order to keep the PWM’s cool. We’ll cover the heatsink in more detail shortly.

Sapphire Radeon X1950 Pro Sapphire Radeon X1950 Pro
Sapphire Radeon X1950 Pro Sapphire Radeon X1950 Pro
Click to enlarge
Interestingly, the power connector isn’t right in the top right hand corner of the PCB; instead it's in the middle of the right hand edge of the card (looking at it front on). This shouldn’t present any cabling issues – in fact, it might make things a little tidier, because it should be easier to hide the cable more effectively. The CrossFire interconnect on the PCB is very similar to NVIDIA’s SLI connection, but it’s a different size so you won’t be able to use an NVIDIA SLI bridge. There are also two of them because unlike SLI, ATI’s native CrossFire implementation is capable of transferring data in both directions at the same time.

ATI’s reference Radeon X1950 Pro design comes with HDCP support and Sapphire has kept this feature on its card. That’s great to see because the next-generation HD content situation is still not crystal clear - we’d rather see HDCP included rather than not. NVIDIA seems to be taking a different strategy, whereby it is only making HDCP support compulsory on its higher-end cards.

Warranty: Sapphire offers a two-year warranty covering parts and labour. During the first year in the product’s life, your point of contact should be the retailer. If you’re having problems getting hold of the retailer, or the retailer goes out of business, you should contact Sapphire directly. During the second year of the warranty, you should talk directly with Sapphire if you are having issues with the product. This is nothing special, but it is certainly adequate enough for a card like this, in our opinion.