Graphics Cards Guide

MSI RX1650XT-T2D256EZ review

MSI RX1650XT-T2D256EZ (Radeon X1650 XT 256MB)

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ATI's Mid-range Saviour

ATI's Mid-range Saviour

ATI's recent attempt to rehabilitate its graphics lineup is almost done. The high-end has been bolstered with the Radeon X1950 XT and PRO while the low end has the Radeon X1300 XT. It is in the mid-range that ATI still looks vulnerable. The Radeon X1650 PRO was the quick answer but it has failed to generate any sort of excitement, which is not surprising given that it inherits the mediocre genes of the Radeon X1600 XT. ATI probably knows this too but was just bidding its time for its new 80nm cores. The result has come to fruition recently and it's none other than the predictably named Radeon X1650 XT.

ATI's practice of using disabled versions of more powerful cores continues for this new product as the Radeon X1650 XT technically has the same 80nm RV570 core as the Radeon X1950 PRO. However, part of it has been disabled or perhaps these were chips that were just not up to the mark. That still leaves it with a respectable number: 24 pixel and 8 vertex shaders. It also gives ATI an excuse to brand it as a 'new' core known as the RV560. Compared to the original core on the Radeon X1950 PRO, the core on the Radeon X1650 XT may have 8 pixel shaders less but retains a similar clock of 575MHz. The memory is also quite fast at 1350MHz DDR so beyond its internal core handicap, the clocks on the Radeon X1650 XT is almost exactly like the Radeon X1950 PRO.

How then would this new entry to the mid-range fare against NVIDIA's dominant GeForce 7600 GT? The potential is evidently there in the core, though the memory bus has been limited to 128 bits wide, like the Radeon X1600 series and the GeForce 7600 GT. This means a much lower memory throughput than the Radeon X1950 PRO and will probably limit the Radeon X1650 XT in terms of high resolutions and eye candy settings. Anyway, it's time to stop the speculation and look at the hardware proper: