Armed with Catalyst Control Center we set out to see what could be had by overclocking this little beast. As you can see we were able to max out the slider for the GPU core speed at 621MHz, up 47MHz over the default speed. The top stable memory speeds we reached was 1518MHz, an increase of 87MHz. This is a good overclock and is easily managed by the stock heatsink.
So in three straight product launches we see ATI offering the great performance for their respective price segments with the X1950XTX, X1950 Pro, and X1650XT. ATI clearly did their homework with the X1650XT and they really needed to as NVIDIA has had a nearly unbeatable card in their stellar performing 7600 GT. This area of the market is very important and typically the most contested one as it’s one of the highest volume areas.
The X1650XT is a terrific performance bargain as it’s just as fastas our overclocked XFX 7600 GT, and nearly as fast as the X1800XL, which a year ago was the second fastest video card ATI had to offer. The X1800XL debuted at a price of $449 a year ago. This is yet another indication of just how far we’ve come in a year and what competition has done for the market. ATI now has a card on the market that runs much cooler, nearly as fast, consumes far less power, and costs one-third of the price as one of the market leaders last year.
With CrossFire we again saw good performance and a much more user friendly experience. All the great things we said about X1950 Pro CrossFire carry over here for X1650XT. No hassles, no nonesense. One thing that we would like to see changed is some sort of prompt to enable CrossFire once everything is in place. It may not seem like much but is just one of those little things that make your life a little easier.
ATI now has matched the performance leader in the $150 or less price segment, but the problem is that we are on the verge of the next generation of graphics architechture. NVIDIA is poised to launch their 8th generation graphics card in just a week which will no doubt shake up the market. We are still some time away from seeing the next generation of mid-low end graphics cards but the launch of the high-end next generation will certainly cause a change in price for all video cards currently on the market. This is great news for those on older generations of hardware looking to update for the next generation of games coming to market like Crysis and Supreme Commander.
So while the X1650XT does fit perfectly in the market, it’s hard for us to suggest purchasing anything at this time as the market is going to make a huge shift in the next few weeks. In that shift it’s likely you’ll be able to pick up something with a little more substance for the price you’d pay now. Of course if you must have a video card now and are looking in this price range we do recommend the X1650XT.
For those looking for a low cost/high performance video card in their HTPC system the X1650XT would be a great card as it would be able to support and decode H.264. It’s quiet enough and uses little power which makes it an ideal candidate for a small system. Another unique feature that ATI has is support for Standford’s Folding At Home. While currently only the X1900 series are supported, the entire X1000 series is planned to be members of the folding at some point.
A final note from ATI was passed over this weekend and wanted to pass it along to our readers. “The X1650 XT is still launching on Oct.30th. However, for a couple of reasons, we now expect it to be in stores during the week of 13 November. Once again, we don’t force our partners to hit a given price, so it might not initially appear at $149, just as you’ve seen with the X1950 Pro. But we’ve structured our pricing to enable the board partners to hit $149, and you’ll see the more aggressive partners with product at that price point at or soon after initial availability, again, as you’ve seen with the X1950 Pro.”
So for now it looks like it’s up to the board partners to make the cards available and at the correct price point. I guess we’ll have to see how it turns out.
Legit Bottom Line: ATI has done it again with the launch of the X1650XT. It’s excellent performance and terrific features leave it second to none for $150 and promises a great experience when used in CrossFire.