Introducing the HiS Radeon X1600 Pro 128MB in Crossfire with ICEQ cooling solution Series: Radeon X1600 Pro 128MB (x2) More info: HiSDigital.com MSRP: 99 USD per card
Today my friends, we will have a look at the a low-end performance Crossfire solution. ATI has been working really hard to to stray away from the criticism on Crossfire when they first launched it, and with success. For the X800 series we where some severe limitation in resolution which now are gone, but the most dreadful item of Crossfire all boiled down to a silly y-cable that interconnects the two cards. With a new mainboard generation (RD580) of ATI chipset based solutions, ATI had a trump in their hands, the mainboard can transport huge amounts of data in-between the PCI-Express (PCIe) graphics slots .. and they figured .. instead of using that cable .. why not transfer the compositing data over the PCIe bus and utilize that available bandwidth so we can leave out that Y-cable. So for their low and mid range line of products, you can now easily do Crossfire without that dreaded cable and even better, without a need to buy an expensive "master" card.
And that is good news, today we are turning things around, normally SLI and crossfire solutions are for enthusiast users, but never for the low-budget segment. We will have a look at the HiS X1600 Pro with 128MB memory. Half a year ago this could be called a mid-range product, yet things have changed quickly and these cards offer low-end performance. Dirt cheap is what they are as they are selling for under 100 USD, and that's including ICEQ cooling. That's right with ICEQ cooler so we are again looking at a solution from HIS technology today.
It wouldn't be a HIS product if there's hasn't been done something unusual with it, so this Pro version is pre-clocked towards 590/1380 MHz. So basically .. this is the speed of the X1600 XT. Why did HIS do that ? Well .. they always do .. but in this case it's rather important that they boost some extra performance as the amount of memory on this card is really low at 128 MB.
Why pass a faster product off as a weaker one? The fact is that both X1600 PRO and X1600 XT cards are equipped with 256 MB of memory by default. But HIS manufactures this card with 128 MB of on-board memory. It is fair to call the card X1600 PRO Turbo, an overclocked X1600 PRO. The product took an intermediate position between the X1600 XT and the X1600 PRO 256MB versions. To allow these high clocks the card has been equipped well known IceQ cooler which is manufactured by Arctic Cooling.
So what are we going to do today .. first we'll have a look at the product specifications, then we'll talk a little about Crossfire, obviously a nice photo-shoot and then a set of benchmarks. We'll test the Single X1600 Pro (100 USD) as well as paired in Crossfire (200 USD) and will compare it with a 200 USD X1800 GTO (200 USD) and a pre-clocked GeForce 7300 GT (120 USD) from Galaxy to get some perspective into this review.
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