Sapphire X1600XT Ultimate
Slotting into the middle of ATI's range, the X1600-series is a powerful card that is nonetheless capable of being silently cooled. However, Sapphire have taken a slightly different tactic with this card. Whilst it has a massive heatpipe cooler, it also has a small fan.
Sapphire tells us that this is to stop it overheating in a very cramped case. This is a genius idea. One of the problems we've found in building home cinema cases is that whilst having a passive cooler is great for noise, there are definitely times when you could use a little extra cooling. The cooler senses the card's temperature and spins up only when it's needed. The great thing is that even at full tilt, the fan is barely audible.
The Ultimate is available in both Pro and XT versions. The XT version that we have here is clocked at 600/1400. It also packs 12 pixel shaders and 5 vertex shaders and 256MB of GDDR3 memory. The Pro version is clocked at 500/800 and uses DDR2 memory.
The Sapphire card comes bundled with The Da Vinci Code game, which really isn't as bad as you might think
. You also get the cables needed to hook up to the TV as well as a funky transparent box.
ATI's video technology is called Avivo
, and it is also integrated right into the driver. You can head into Catalyst Control Center and tweak its properties, but we found that leaving all the settings on default worked fine.