Rich Caporali’s Thoughts:
The Sapphire X850 XT is a great card, plain and simple. I honestly did not find anything about this card which I didn’t like. The X850 XT retails for around $450, or about $150 less than the cheapest X850 XT Platinum Edition. Since there is only a 20MHz/100MHz (core/memory) difference, and the XT lacks HD ability, the X850 XT is, in my opinion, a much better deal for the gamer budgeting for one of the fastest cards on the market.
For those that are hyped by SLI, this card easily beats the pair of XFX 6600GTs that cost roughly $420. On an SLI board, a pair of 6800GTs or Ultras will undoubtedly provide better performance, but at a much higher cost ($800-1100). For those of you who want the best single card solution, the X850 XT should be on the short list of cards to buy in this price range. Having said that, I would not recommend an owner of an X800 (PCI-E or AGP) to upgrade to this card as you wont see a dramatic increase in performance.
The X850 XT’s cooling solution, while a tad noisy and filling up two slots, is an awesome performer. Running at 100% the card never broke 65C and returned to idle temps within 2 minutes without any problems. Had this been a review sample I would not have hesitated pushing this card as far as possible……but risking the wrath of my wife, I limited myself to overclocking this card to PE levels, which is more than enough for anyone but the diehard enthusiast who lives on the edge and wants bragging rights.
I will be excited to see ATI SLI answer unveiled within the next month or two. I can’t say until I actually get my hands on a sample, but given the X850’s performance against an NVidia SLI solution, I expect a pair of X850 XT’s to simply smoke!
The Legit Bottom Line
If on a budget save some money and pass on the X850 XT Platinum Edition and take a look at the Sapphire X850 XT 256MB video card.