Personal Tech

Sapphire unleashes the Ultimate

An albino assassin

Sapphire's new Radeon X1600 Pro and XT Ultimate graphics cards use a cooling solution that is nearly, but not quite, silent.

We're used to seeing mid-range graphics cards that have a passive heatsink. Generally, there's a finned slab of aluminium that sits on the GPU, which is linked via a couple of heatpipes to a larger heatsink on the back of the card.

As there is no fan the cooling is silent, but it is dependent on a certain amount of airflow to move heat away from the heatsinks, which is usually provided by the CPU cooler and the fan in the power supply.

Sapphire Ultimate X1600XT - back and front

Front and back view of the Sapphire Ultimate X1600XT

The mid-range X1600 chip from ATi is a decent Shader Model 3.0 part but it runs fairly hot, so a passive heatsink wouldn't be a good idea. Sapphire has got round this by adding a fan to the heatsink on the back of the card that measures a sizeable 65mm in diameter which has a rating of 22dB under load. We've got one here and it is effectively silent.

The X1600 Pro Ultimate core runs at 500MHz with 256MB of GDDR 2 that runs at an effective speed of 800MHz. The XT has a 600MHz core and 256MB of GDDR 3 with an effective speed of 1400MHz.

Tragically, our Press sample didn't include the copy of The Da Vinci Code that will be part of the retail package. ®