Radeon X1600 Pro: Prolonging the Graphics Life of Your AGP Machine

Cables And Adapters

A full cable kit includes an S-Video cable, a composite video cable, a component video adapter, a composite video adapter, a DVI-I to VGA adapter and a four-pin power splitter. The power splitter is especially useful in any system that lacks an unused floppy-style power connector.

The Upgrade Process

We dug deep into the PC graveyard and pulled out a three-year-old upper-midrange system to simulate a typical upgrade scenario. ATI’s 128 MB Radeon 9600 Pro had the same price in May 2003 as that of the Diamond Viper X1600 AGP 512 MB in May 2006. Following our own advice, we first upgraded to 2 GB DDR-SDRAM, clocked at the standard 400 MHz at DDR speed and dual channel mode for a synchronous transfer rate, and to the Pentium 4 2.6 GHz processor.

The normal procedure for upgrading a graphics card includes uninstalling the old drivers, removing the old graphics card, installing the new graphics card and installing the new drivers. We tried another method, simply updating the 9600 Pro to the latest ATI Catalyst version then replacing it with the X1600 Pro. This second method worked just as well for our applications, but the first method is generally recommended to reduce the risk of configuration errors. After experimenting with various installation methods and finding them all working, we reinstalled the system to get a clean start at benchmarks.

Test Setup

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System Hardware
ProcessorPentium 4 2.60 GHz (Northwood) w/ Hyper Threading2.60 GHz, 200 MHz FSB, 512 kB L2 Cache
PlatformSoyo P4I875P Dragon2 v1.0 Black Label (Socket 478)Intel 875P Chipset, BIOS 4AA4
RAMCorsair TWINX2048-3500LL2x 1024 MB at DDR400 (CL 2.0-3-2-6)
Hard DriveWestern Digital WD800JB80 GB, 7200 RPM, 8 MB cache, UltraATA/100
NetworkingIntel Pro 1000 CT Network ControllerGigabit Ethernet, Onboard, Offline
Graphics CardsATI Radeon 9600 Pro (AGP)400 MHz core, 128 MB DDR2-600 Graphics RAMDiamond Viper X1600 Pro AGP500 MHz Core, 512 MB DDR2-810 Graphics RAM
Power SupplyFortron Source FSP-400GN, ATX1.3, 400W
System Software & Drivers
OSMicrosoft Windows XP Professional 5.1.2600, Service Pack 2
DirectX Version9.0c (4.09.0000.0904)
Platform DriverIntel Chipset Installation Utility
Graphics DriverATI Catalyst 6.4
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.