ATI Radeon X1650 Pro (dual link) review: ATI Radeon X1650 Pro (dual link)

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MSRP: $199.00

The Good Strongest 3D card in the $100 segment.

The Bad Real-world pricing is all over the map.

The Bottom Line We don't recommend paying even $125 for this new budget 3D card from ATI, but assuming you can find it for $100 or less, the Radeon X1650 Pro will meet your Windows Vista and basic gaming needs without overheating your PC or your wallet.

6.3 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 6
  • Support 7

According to ATI's suggested retail price, the 256MB Radeon X1650 Pro costs $100. At that price, it's a great 3D graphics card that will turn any otherwise 3D-inept desktop into a basic but respectable gaming box. It will also aid your Windows Vista plans if you'd like to run the transparent Aero effects. The problem is that a quick Froogle search turned up prices ranging from $65 to about $225. At $100 or less, the Radeon X1650 Pro is a good deal, but don't pay any more than that because cards in the $150 territory offer clearly superior performance.

As we mentioned in our review of ATI's other recently released budget card, the Radeon X1300 XT, the Radeon X1650 Pro is the best low-cost offering from ATI at the moment. The two cards actually have very few differences. The core and the memory clock speeds are different (500MHz core, 800MHz memory on the X1300; 600MHz core, 700MHz memory on the X1650), and they share the same number of pixel and vertex pipelines (12 and 5, respectively), but the X1650 Pro is only $10 more expensive than the X1300 XT, if you go by ATI's MSRP figures. You'll find Radeon X1300 XT cards with 128MB and 256MB of memory, and the Radeon X1650 Pro will have some 512MB models, which naturally cost more, but both cards use the same technology and are so close in price that you might as well drop the extra $10 for the boost in performance.

Of course, the Radeon X1650 Pro is competing not only with ATI's other budget cards (despite the vendor's best intentions), but also with Nvidia's GeForce 7600 GS-based cards. You'll find GeForce 7600 GS cards spread across as wide a price range as that of the Radeon X1650 Pro, but even if you find one for less than the Radeon X1650 Pro, we recommend that you don't buy it, because it's not as fast. On every test, the Radeon X1650 outpaced the Nvidia card. On some tests, such as Half-Life 2, the two were basically tied, but on others, Quake 4, for example, the Radeon card beat out the GeForce 7600 GS by a large margin, in that case by 13 frames per second, which is a significant difference at the budget level. And of course, if you dial down the resolution and the image-quality settings, you should see your frame rates get closer to the 60-frames-per-second ideal.

(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Quake 4
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,280x1,024 (high quality)  

Half-Life 2: The Lost Coast
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,600x1,200 (high quality, 16x anisotropic filtering)  
1,280x1,024 (high quality, 16x anisotropic filtering)  

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Once again, we need to thank Sarju Shah at GameSpot for hooking us up with the test results, which he produced for GameSpot's own graphics card roundup. We highly recommend that you check it out for a broad overview of the entire graphics card market.

Test bed:
AMD Athlon 64 FX-62; Asus A8RMVP-Deluxe motherboard; 1GB Corsair XMS 3200XL DDR SDRAM; 160GB Seagate 7,200rpm hard drive; ATI Catalyst beta version 6.8_8.282.1 graphics driver software; Nvidia ForceWare 91.31 graphics driver software.

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