AGP is not dead! Although PCI-Express is without a doubt the modern standard for performance and availability, many manufacturers are still producing AGP cards for those not quite ready to make the upgrade. Some systems may have the horsepower in other departments (CPU, memory) to make them worth keeping, and perhaps it is just their AGP graphics solutions that have these systems showing their age.
PowerColor is one brand that offers a handful of higher end AGP cards that can remedy such a situation. With cards available in the Radeon X1500, X1600, and X1900 classes, they offer several models that can offer AGP graphics at a variety of performance levels and price points. This review will focus on the PowerColor X1650 XT 256MB AGP Video Card; a higher end AGP card based on the ATI Radeon RV560 chip that was introduced in the second half of 2006.
Before taking a look at the PowerColor X1650 XT 256MB AGP Video Card provided for review, let's take a look at some of the key features and specifications as taken from the PowerColor website...
Features & Specifications:
» Part Number: X1650 XT 256MB AGP
» 2nd Part Number: 47125050 20709
» Memory & Bus Width: 256 MB GDDR3 / 128 bit
» Core Speed: 600 MHz
» Memory Speed: 700 MHz x 2
» Output: Dual DVI / HDTV
» Interface: AGP x8
» Pixel Pipelines: 24 Pixel Shader Unit
» Code name: RV560
» Transistors: 330 millions
» Pixel pipes: 16
» Vertex shader units: 8
» Raster operation units: 8
» Direct X Support: 9.0
» TV Connector: S-Video
» Remark RoHS / Windows Vista ready
» Minimum Power Supply Requirement: 450 Watts
For a complete list of features and specifications, please visit the official product page on the PowerColor website. Of everything presented above, the thing I am particularly interested in is the minimum power supply rating of 450 Watts. The target test system will be a small form factor machine with a proprietary 300W PSU, and I am hopeful that it will work!
Packaging & Accessories:
The front of the box is dominated by the image of some sort of warrior angel, which I originally mistook for the elf from Lord of the Rings, Legolas (yeah, I had to look up the name). Androgyny aside, you are provided a few tidbits of information, including that this card is Windows Vista ready, HDTV ready, sports 256MB of GDDR3 memory, and in case you were shopping for a PCI-Express card it clearly states that it is an AGP card. Other panels of the box provide more technical information, and the back of the box provides features and specifications in a variety of languages, none of which are English.
The images below detail everything included, minus the X1650 XT video card. The below left image shows the Quick Installation Guide, a CD of CyberLink titles, and an installation CD featuring Catalyst version 6.10 drivers. As of the date of this review the Catalyst drivers are up to version 7.2, so be prepared to visit the ATI website to download the latest drivers. The below right image shows the collection of included adaptors; 4-pin to 6-pin power, DVI to VGA video, and s-video to composite video.
Many video card manufacturers seem to have gotten away from bundling their cards with games or other applications, but this bundle does seem rather weak. The CyberLink disc contains a few different application revolving around videos on your PC, and the only one I might be interested in is PowerDVD (if I didn't already have a few copies).