by Rob Williams on March 13, 2006 in Graphics & Displays
Are you building a new PC or HTPC and are looking for a great budget card? PowerColor may have exactly what you need, with their X1600XT 256MB. It offers great gaming performance for a budget card, and includes the AVIVO technology to make your video experience even better.
The card arrived in a small box that packs a lot of content. Of course, there is a heroine standing in front of a robot, because that only makes perfect sense. In all seriousness though, the box is small, and I love it. Every detail you need to know is found on the front and back. The first thing you see after opening the box are some CD’s. They include a free game called Pacific Fighters, in addition to driver discs.
In terms of accessories, the box includes an S-Video cable, DVI Dongle in case your monitor uses VGA, S-Video to AV, VIVO Cable, Composite Cable and finally, an HDTV cable.
The card is standard size for most in it’s class and looks great. The board is red PCB as expected, and uses a black heatsink. The heatsink is topped by a thin clear plastic layer with “X1600XT” painted on. The fan is completely clear, but non-LED. As mentioned earlier, the card has two Dual-link DVI ports, in addition to a video output.
Overall, it’s a sweet looking card. Nothing amazing, but nothing less than expected.
We will quickly explain our benchmarking practices. Before any benchmarking goes on, the computer is cleaned up and defragged. All unnecessary programs such as Anti-Virus, Firewall and sound trays are closed so that only necessary applications are active. In between swapping graphics cards, Driver Cleaner is used to clean up the prior driver installation.
Each benchmark score is acquired by a custom run-through. We do not use automatic demos to benchmark because it does not reflect a realistic view of performance. Because each run-through will be different than the one prior, scores could tend to jump around a little bit. Example: In one run-through we could look up at the sky for a few seconds longer which could increase the score. When we play the same level over and over, we play through the level as if it was our very first time, so we explore and look around. We don’t just zoom through the level at light speed in order to get it over with.
We use FRAPS to capture our FPS information. With it, we can determine the Low, Average and Max FPS that we acquired through the entire test. Because the low and max are usually 0 and 200+, we ignore those and stick with the average. As soon as the level we are playing begins, we begin recording the information with FRAPS. FRAPS is set to stop recording information after 5 minutes of gameplay.
- CPU: 3200+ Venice @ 2.0GHz
- Motherboard: DFI LanParty Ultra-D w/ 704-2BTA BIOS
- Memory: Corsair 2GB PC4000 Platinum @ 3-4-4-8/2.8v
- Video: BFG 6800GT OC 256MB / PowerColor X1600XT
- Sound: Chaintech AV-710
- Storage: WD 160GB 7200 8MB
- Odds and Ends: Titan Robela Water Cooling the CPU, 4x 120MM fans
- Etcetera: Windows XP Professional SP2, NVIDIA 81.98 Drivers, ATI 6.2 Catalyst Drivers
Each of our GPU reviews will use 1024*768 and 1280*1024 as the primary resolutions. To choose appropriate max settings, we pump up the AA and AF until we feel the game is completely playable at a specific setting. We do not use FPS readouts to determine how playable a game is, because this factor can vary between game to game. For instance, Call of Duty 2 is well playable at 25 – 30 FPS, but in Quake IV is just seems too choppy.
Ok, now that that is out of the way, let’s get right into our first game: Half-Life 2.