As the model name suggests, MSI has used the new ATi Radeon 1650 Pro chip in this graphics card. Despite the new name it looks as though the only difference between the Radeon X1600 and X1650 Pro is a die shrink from a 90nm fabrication process to 80nm; the transistor count has remained constant at 157 million.
MSI runs the core at the same 585MHz that we’ve seen in various models of X1600 while the 256MB of DDR3 runs at an effective speed of 1,375MHz, which is nothing out of the ordinary in the world of modern Radeons.
It’s worth pointing out the gulf between a budget X1300 and a high end X1950, not least because the X1900 introduced three shaders for every one of its 16 pipelines to give a total of 48 shaders. The X1600 and X1650 use three quarters of the previous X1800 which only had one Shader per pipeline, so the mid-range chips have 12 pipelines and 12 shaders, which is effectively one third of the graphics hardware that you find inside a Radeon X1900 or X1950.
Despite its name, the Radeon X1650 Pro isn’t a mid-range chip but is instead a superior budget chip, so MSI has done exactly the right thing by pricing the RX1650Pro under £80. The mystery is why anyone would even consider buying a Radeon X1300 when there is hardware like this on the market at such a low price.
Performance is good and allows you to play modern intensive games such as Far Cry or Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, but if you want to enable all of the eye-candy you’ll have to make a trade-off on the screen resolution that you can run. Even so, you get an indecent amount of gaming performance for a very low price.
The card sports a pair of DVI outputs which is ideal if you run dual TFT displays on your desktop, and you also get an S-Video output. MSI supplies an S-Video extension cable and a pair of adapters. One carries S-Video and Composite outputs and the other has Component, for fans of HDTV.
While we naturally welcome decent performance at a low price, the real surprise with the MSI was its near-silent operation. The fan is a fairly large 55mm item that rotates slowly and quietly while keeping the card nice and cool.
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