This review appears in the February issue of PC Advisor, available now in all good newsagents.
Hot on the heels of the X1950 XTX comes the Sapphire X1950 Pro. Designed to compete against nVidia's 7900GS and 7900GT, the Pro comfortably slots into the enthusiast sector of the market.
The Pro's architecture is hardly a quantum leap forward from its X1900GT predecessor. It features the same 36 shader pipelines and 12 texture unit configuration, coupled with eight Vertex pipelines.
However, there are differences that distinguish the Pro from the older card. While its GPU (graphics processing unit) runs at the same clock speeds as that of the X1900GT, the use of an 80nm (nanometre) fabrication process instead of 90nm means the core has shrunk, in effect.
Taking advantage of a smaller GPU, the Pro consumes less power and produces less heat. And as it doesn't require an extreme cooling system, there's less noise, too.
Another bonus comes in the form of 256MB of DDR3 memory, which gives the Pro a handy speed bump. Memory clock speeds have increased from 1,200MHz to 1,400MHz, equating to an extra 6.4GBps (gigabytes per second) of memory bandwidth.
The Pro ships with a full complement of cables, including a power splitter for supplying additional power, a CrossFire bridge and twin DVI-VGA (digital visual interface-video graphics array) adapters.
Performance-wise, the Pro was extremely impressive – generally on a par with the Gainward 7900GS Golden Sample. It even managed to outpace a pricier 7950GT on occasions. The Sapphire performed particularly well on our games benchmarking tests using Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Half Life 2: Lost Coast.