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Review: Sapphire Ultimate X1600 Pro
June 8, 2006
Author: MarkLofaso Manufacturer: Sapphire
Department: HTPC-SFF Model: Ultimate X1600 Pro
Article Type: Review Time Spent: 8 days
 
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Introduction




When picking parts for an HTPC assembly, one of the most important parameters to consider is noise. I have spent several nights lying in bed wondering what part of my bedroom HTPC is making that annoying whine or click. Often, the worst offenders are those cute little turbo-charged fans they put on our video cards. Well, Sapphire heard our equally loud plea for silence and delivered what looks to be a nearly ideal solution for entertainment PC's. Enter the Sapphire Ultimate X1600 Pro--the latest addition to their Ultimate Silent Series line of cards.

ATI’s Radeon X1600 Pro was announced in the Fall of 2005, just in time for the holiday season and its performance has been thoroughly reviewed with regard to its gaming performance. Sapphire labels the X1600 Pro as “The Absolute in Mainstream Gaming Performance!” Translation: “You’re not going to impress your frag-headed friends with this chipset, but you can still play.” The difference is you can play in your living room after watching the game. Plus, with the money you’ll save on this card, you can afford snacks.

In Sapphire’s “About Us” section of their website the last sentence does a great job of summing up their philosophy with respect to this card.

“Be they business oriented or something just off center of the crosshairs, Sapphire has a solution for you and we look forward to an exciting and prosperous relationship with you!”

I think most HTPC enthusiasts would agree that we are certainly not the target audience for most of the hardware marketed today. Undoubtedly, the Sapphire Ultimate Silent Series puts us straight in the crosshairs. So put your antlers on and let’s take a closer look.


Specifications
 
Core
RADEON™ X1600
Memory
256MB DDR2
Slot
PCI Express x16
CrossFire™ Support
Yes
Supports
DirectX® 9.0c / OpenGL 2.0 acceleration
Max Resolution
2560x1600
TV-Out
Yes
Video acceleration
MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, WMV9, VC-1, and H.264
Special Features
Smoothvision HD + Adaptive AA, Silent opperation, Avivo™
 
What's Included


Sapphire includes every type of connector you would probably want, except HDMI…that’s another highly anticipated card to be released soon we’re told. There’s the standard DVI-I to VGA adapter, an S-Video cable, a composite video adapter with included matching yellow cable, and for HDTV connection, the component video adapter. One slight omission you may notice is the lack of Dual DVI capability. So, if you’re planning on running two LCD monitors, you’ll have to settle for VGA input on one of them via the previously mentioned dongle.

We received an OEM version of the card in a brown box, so I can’t comment on the retail box eye candy. We are told that bundled in the retail package is the full version of The Da Vinci Code by 2K Games, an overclocking utility, and PowerDVD.


 
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For me, an HTPC case should be:
A stylish mid tower is fine.
It has to look like other home electronics equipment.
Looks? Big deal, it is all about performance.
Small, unobtrusive.
 
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