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Review: ATI Radeon X1900 XT Shootout - SAPPHIRE versus PowerColor

by Tarinder Sandhu on 17 February 2006, 13:49

Tags: Sapphire ati Radeon X1900 XT, ATi Technologies (NYSE:AMD)

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PowerColor Radeon X1900 XT 512MB Bundle

Gone is the over-the-top packaging favoured by its competitors. PowerColor simply likes to list facts. How does 384-million transistors, 48 pixel shaders, 8 vertex shaders and dual-link DVI sound? This specification is common to the entire X1900 family, yet it still sounds impressive.

We'd expect a near-£400 graphics card to ship with a luxurious bundle. PowerColor, though, is positioning its card more on price than on extra bundled features. A set of CATALYST 6.2 BETA drivers are included on the TUL-labelled CD, and the only other software comes in the form of CyberLink's DVD Solution software, comprising of PowerDVD 5.0 (2-channel edition, sadly), Power2Go 3, a media-burning program, PowerProducer Gold 2, useful for home-video users who need an easy-to-use program to convert/burn video and photos on to CD/DVD. PowerDirector 3, the common video-editing software, rounds off the package.

We had expected a retail game to be bundled in with the package. PowerColor will probably assert that extra software simply raises the asking price and that it's best for the consumer to purchase whichever titles they see fit. Hardware-wise, there's S-Video and RCA extension cables, along with component connections for HDTV (analogue) output and a molex-to-PCIe power splitter.


PowerColour usually offers a 2-year warranty on its range of ATI cards, which is about par for the industry. Pertaining specifically to the Radeon X1900 family and applicable for cards purchased on or after January 26, 2006 (around or after launch day, basically), PowerColor provides a lifetime warranty to the original purchaser of each retail SKU, where lifetime is defined as the life of the product.

Now where relatively recent SKUs are dropped off a partner's list at an alarming rate, the 'lifetime' warranty isn't quite as appealing as it first sounds. PowerColor states that it may upgrade a defective product if the SKU has been phased out. Users must also pay the postage fees for sending faulty cards back to PowerColor, too.

The kicker for customers who don't reside in the USA or Canada is that this PC lifetime warranty program doesn't apply to them. Instead, non-North American customers are offered a standard 2-year warranty, which, if you analyse the product cycle of graphics cards, is almost as good as the 'lifetime' program. The 2-year warranty is linked in with the card's serial number, and it starts on the manufacturing date rather than on the date of purchase; if we've correctly understood PowerColor's advice in this respect, then this really doesn't make sense at all; it seems to mean that your warranty will have started to expire, whilst its collecting dust sitting in distributor warehouses and on retailer shelves, and this could be long before you own it...