AGP Platform Analysis, Part 1: New Cards, Old System

The New AGP Lineup

Radeon X1950 PROOnline Price: ~$240
Codename: R580, 90 nanometer technology
36 pixel shaders, 8 vertex shaders, 12 texture units, 12 raster operations processors
256-bit external memory bus (512-bit internal ring bus)
575 MHz core, 690 MHz DDR (1380 MHz effective) memory

The X1950 PRO is similar to the X1900 GT, the main difference being that it is not based on the X1900 XT, but a new and less power-hungry core. The card's main competition on the PCI Express side is the 7900 GS, but since the 7900 GS isn't available in AGP, the X1950 PRO is the fastest AGP card available. It will be interesting to see if the old AGP platform has enough juice to allow the X1950 PRO to stretch its legs, or if it will be bottlenecked at the same performance of its competition.

The two X1950 PRO samples we tested were provided by Sapphire and Powercolor.

Sapphire X1950 PRO AGP

Sapphire's X1950 PRO has 512 MB on board, and is the only 512 MB X1950 PRO AGP available as far as we know. The Sapphire card requires TWO Molex connectors for power, which is one more than any other AGP card I've ever tested.

Powercolor X1950 PRO AGP

Powercolor's X1950 PRO has 256 MB of onboard RAM, and features a quiet Arctic Cooling GPU cooler known as the Accelero X2. It will be interesting to see if the extra 256 MB of RAM on the Sapphire card makes a difference in performance. This card requires the newer 6-pin power connector, but comes with an adapter to a standard Molex connector for those of us with older power supplies.