While enthusiasts have been harping on about the merits of HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) for some time now, this is the first time we've seen a graphics card that supports this new-look interface. So, for those who've only just got used to DVI (digital visual interface) ports, what's the difference?
Well, as far as video goes, not much at all. In essence, both HDMI and DVI work using the same technology – DVI devices can also be connected through the HDMI port with the help of a converter. In fact, we couldn't detect any real improvement in image quality when we tried out this card's HDMI capabilities.
That's not to say HDMI doesn't deliver smooth results (it does). And we were very pleased with the image quality delivered at 1,280x720. However, if you're expecting HDMI to offer a significantly superior picture to DVI, you're out of luck.
What does distinguish HDMI from DVI is that it delivers not just video but full 192KHz eight-channel audio as well. And the fact that it supports such new lossless compressed audio formats as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD is part of the reason why the HDTV crowd is more interested in HDMI than DVI.
As the likes of Blu-ray and HD-DVD grow in popularity, and as PCs integrate themselves into everyday life, you can expect HDMI to become increasingly sought after. But there's currently no pressing need to jump aboard and, since this isn't the kind of card that's going to last you for years, it doesn't have the appeal an HDMI product ought to.
The X1600 Pro, after all, is now a comparatively elderly chip. Its specs are hardly outstanding and it struggled to keep up with the likes of the GeForce 7600 GS in our games tests.
Those looking to kit out a media centre PC with HDMI capabilities may find it more to their taste – the card generates little heat or noise, and a choice of backplates makes it ideal for PCs where room is a factor.