When you’re out shopping for a video card in the $100 area it’s a given that there are faster cards out there. The point is getting the most card for the money that you’re handing over. Any of the cards we tested today would be a welcome upgrade from an integrated video solution but the X1600 Pro and 6600GT extend that upgrade quite a bit further. The problem is that when you’re standing in the store looking at the cards on the shelf, or comparing them online it comes down to bang for the buck.
How much performance can you afford? In most of our tests the 6600GT was the slightly faster card but as we noted earlier this is the 256MB version of the card which carries a slightly higher price, pushing it into the $150 range. For some this quickly determines that the 6600GT won’t be going home with you. However the 6600 and X1600 Pro are much closer in price and when it comes to performance the Sapphire X1600 Pro is easily the faster card. At press time the Sapphire Radeon X1600 Pro could be found for $117 plus shipping from major online retailers.
As newer games are developed and released we’re being promised that they are more and more dependent on shader power. The X1600 Pro has excellent shader performance when looking at the X3:Reunion demo and 3D Mark 2006 SM 3.0 tests where it’s faster than the more expensive 6600GT. These two tests may show just how the future shapes up for the these cards.
Heat and Noise: Again, we noted earlier that the Sapphire card put out very little heat and stayed very quiet. The only time that we heard the fan was for a brief moment after pushing the power button, it quickly settles into a quiet idle never to be heard from again. Sapphire backs each of their video cards with a 2 year manufacturer?s warranty.
In the $100 price range the X1600 Pro is the fastest video card that you can buy. The Sapphire X1600 Pro also has the added value of being able to run in CrossFire if you decided to buy a second one down the road, provided you have a motherboard with a CrossFire supported chipset. Not all 6600’s are SLI capable so if running 2 video cards in your computer is something you might be interested in, it would be important to keep this in mind. For those interested, we will have performance numbers from Sapphire X1600 Pro running in CrossFire in an upcoming article.
Legit Bottom Line: For gaming on a budget nothing performs as well as the X1600 Pro and Sapphire has got you covered. The quiet and cool heatsink, 2 year warranty, along with the excellent performance make this a great choice.