Installation & Operation:
In general, the installation of a video card should be one of the more simple upgrades that can be performed inside your PC. Simply find the right slot, pop the video card into it, and fasten the screw on the expansion slot bracket. The first two steps went as planned, but the part about fastening the screw on the expansion slot bracket didn't quite go as planned. With the card fully seated in the AGP slot, the bracket on the card was a good 1/8" or more away from the mating surface on the case, and could not be screwed down.
The image above details the situation, and in the end a bit of pushing and prying got this close enough so I could at least get a few threads of the screw engaged. Not an ideal situation as it was now putting a bit of pressure on the AGP slot latch, but at least the card was secured. This system has housed a variety of other cards (GeForce 7600GS, Radeon 9600, and a Radeon 9250) and this is the first time I have encountered this problem.
With the physical installation complete, the balance of the process was a breeze. I initially installed the provided drivers (Catalyst 6.10) and quickly upgraded to the latest available online (Catalyst 7.2), without a hitch. The card was up and running well in no time, and provided zero problems, even with the suspect mounting out back. I was also pleased to see that there were no issues with the 300W power supply, despite the specifications stating a 450W minimum. The proprietary nature of the system rules out an upgrade, and if the 300W unit didn't cut it, the review would have ended prematurely.
One positive note to mention is the noise level. As compared to the previous video card in this system (a 256MB XFX GeForce 7600GS), the cooling fan on the PowerColor
X1650 XT 256MB AGP Video Card was much quieter. It is not silent, but given all of the other noises in this system, it might as well be!
For those looking to use this card with a television, the selection of TV out connections may be a bit of a let down. Although many televisions now support VGA or DVI, I prefer to have a component video connection. S-video and composite are included, but really are somewhat inferior and definitely don't look that good on a widescreen HDTV.
Overclocking this card turned out to be more difficult than I would have expected, and I'd like those few hours of my life back. I attempted to use ATITool
, as I have on just about every Radeon based video card I have owned in recent history, but I was unable to achieve any sort of overclock. The software seemed to function properly, but as soon as I would click for it to accept even a 1 MHz overclock on the core or the memory, the system would lock up.
Searching the Internet for more information eventually lead me back to a review of a similar PowerColor card conducted by the site that created ATITool. A review of a PowerColor 1650 Pro at Techpowerup.com
ended with the same lack of overclocking, and I felt marginally better that I wasn't totally to blame.
Hopes were to run through the testing portion of the review at default and overclocked speeds, but I guess that just wasn't meant to be!