Instead of spending up to or over $1,000 to upgrade my motherboard, processor, and power supply in order to buy the latest generation of PCI-e cards, I decided to stay with my current system and get the latest and fastest AGP solution available. Since ATI just released their new Radeon X1950 Pro cards which supports AGP, I decided to give one a spin.

This is where the Visiontek XGE Radeon X1950 Pro 256MB card (MSRP: $300) comes in.  It has AGP, has a bit of legroom for future gaming, and it allows me to get instant gaming satisfaction until I can come up with the funds to get a whole new system.  So is the X1950 Pro AGP the answer to gamers who want to stay with AGP for a bit longer?  Read on to find out in this review of Visiontek’s XGE X1950 Pro 256MB video card.

Here is a quick rundown of the features: 

  • ATI RADEON X1950PRO Visual Processing Unit at 575MHz
  • Oversized Active Fansink
  • Single Slot Solution
  • Dual Link DVI x2
  • 256MB GDDR3 Memory @ 1.38 GHz/ 1380 MHz
  • 256-bit memory interface
  • 512-bit ring bus controller
  • AGP 8x
  • 80 nanometer GPU (RV570XT)
  • Ultra threaded core 3D architecture
  • Avivo display enhancement technology
  • Shader model 3.0
  • Component HDTV YPbPr Output
  • S-Video and Composite Video TV-Out

First impressions of the card once unpacked was that the card is pretty heavy.  In fact I’ve reviewed dozens of video cards over the years, and this is likely the heaviest one I’ve encountered.  This is in no small part due to the oversized fully copper heatsink mounted onto the board.  More on the cooling solution later.

On top of the weight, I’ve noticed the card is pretty long, and some people may have difficulties sliding it into their case.  You may have to move wires, and in some cases, locations of your hard drive(s).  If you’d like to be sure, you’ll need 9 inches (9″) of length in your case.

I was also glad to see it is a single slot solution, rather than taking up two slots in your case.  It has two DVI-I ports, but don’t worry if you still use VGA, it comes with a DVI-to-VGA converter.  Thrown into the mix is an adapter for component HDTV hookup, so you can plug it into a HDTV for high definition 1080p love.

Finally there’s a 6-pin power connector, so you can use any spare cord from the power supply to power this card.  Just make sure you have a 450w power supply or better (18a on the 12v rail at the minimum.)

One of the features of this card is called AVIVO, a video platform by ATI that enhances video capabilities.  It allows for the hardware on the video card to encode and decode H.264 formatted video (Blu-ray and HD-DVD both support this format), which allows for smooth display of high definition content.  Since it is done on the GPU, it aids the decoding of supported formats/codecs, thus lowering CPU usage.  This is especially useful for media PC’s.

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