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Hardware Review:
Sapphire X1650

By Shamus
on Thursday May 1, 2008
Filed under:
Nerd Culture


Sure, there are lots of hardware reviews out there. The usual practice is to have a smart and knowledgeable person review some gadget or device in detail. But I think we need a fresh perspective. We need the perspective of someone who knows nothing about hardware and is confused by new technology. We need in-depth analysis from a guy who knows just enough to not stick his screwdriver (a butterknife, actually) into his power supply and wiggle it around. We need a hardware review from a software engineer.

To that end, I bring you a review of my recently acquired graphics card…

According to the box, the Sapphire X1650 is a graphics card from either “ATI” or “Radeon” or maybe “Malaysia”. I’m upgrading my graphics card from the old NVidia 6200 to the X1650. At first I was worried because 1650 is a lower number than 6200, which would seem to suggest that the 1650 will have weaker megabytes or smaller gigahertz. But the “X” in front of the name is like a multiplier, and it means “more better”.

Unboxing the X1650

This is the box. I don’t know why it has a picture of a dead alien on it.
This is the box. I don’t know why it has a picture of a dead alien on it.

The box is more complex than it seems, because inside of the box pictured above was another box. It was brown and had very tricky flaps. The inner box didn’t really open and close so much as unfold. I couldn’t figure out how to fold it back up again so I threw it away.

The X1650

This is the X1650.  It’s very advanced and red.
This is the X1650. It’s very advanced and red.

I got the AGP version of the card. AGP stands for “A Good Plug”, because it will plug into my motherboard, unlike the other kinds of graphics cards which don’t. I don’t even know why they make those ones. I like the fan, because it looks like the turbine on a jet, and jets are fast.


Installation was a snap. I just took the cover off the thing and plugged the whatzit into the slotty bit on the motherboard. There were several little wires and nobbly bits in the box along with the graphics card. I didn’t know what to do with them so I put them back in the box and pretended I didn’t have them.

I don’t know what these are for.  The one looks like some of the cables already inside of my computer, except this one doesn’t shock me when I lick the contacts.
I don’t know what these are for. The one looks like some of the cables already inside of my computer, except this one doesn’t shock me when I lick the contacts.


I’m happy to report that the X1650 driver / software installer is following the industry standard guidelines for sucking in every way possible. It began with a needlessly elaborate graphics splash screen that launched a chain of subsequent installers. Each one ran without explaining what it was or why I might want it. I just had to sit there and hit “next” or “finished” every couple of minutes. That is, I was obliged to participate without being offered any information or choices.

I think there were five installers in all. While I got the needed drivers, I also got a bunch of crap I didn’t want. (I can now right-click on the desktop and access all sorts of esoteric performance options. It’s like cluttering up your car steering wheel with buttons to regulate the fuel mixture and air intake. Why are these here where I might accidentally use them?)

It took longer to run the installer than it did to find my plus-ended screwdriver, and that’s like ten minutes.

Rationalizing My PurchaseBenchmarking

A side-by-side comparison of the NVidia 6200 and the ATI X1650.
A side-by-side comparison of the NVidia 6200 and the ATI X1650.

As you can hopefully see from the screenshot above, the X1650 is totally better and not a waste of my money. Benchmarking performance in Deus Ex reveals that while the 6200 is “ultra mega fast”, the X1650 is “super extra ultra mega fast”. While in both cases the frame rate was maxed out, it was nice to know that the X1650 was in there, spinning that cool fan it has and being so awesome and red.

Comments (70)

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  1. Hey! I just got a Sapphire X1650 a couple months ago.

    Based on your review, I can tell that you didn’t install it on a Windows 2000 box the way I did. Because if you had, you’d have discovered that Sapphire committed blatant fraud by claiming that Windows 2000 drivers were in the box.

    In point of fact, Sapphire has no Windows 2000 drivers for the card. They aren’t available on their site. They don’t respond to their technical support e-mail. They’ve taken down their web-based ticketing system. And they have no technical support numbers that actually work in the United States. Complaint threads on their forums were locked and then deleted.

    Nor does ATI itself supply Windows 2000 drivers for the chipset (which is probably why Sapphire doesn’t have them — even though they fraudulently claim that they do on the box).

    I eventually found that a competitor producing an X1650 card had apparently produced drivers that I was able to use with the card. The card is now working just fine and I couldn’t be happier with the chipset.

    But I’ll never be buying a piece of Sapphire hardware again. Blatant fraud tends to leave a bad taste in my mouth.

  2. mistameow says:

    hmm…you seem to be happy that you do not know much about graphics cards. interesting.
    also, good luck playing Fallout3 with this card. If you go this cheap then you have to accept the subpar performance that goes with it.

  3. Rodney says:

    just bought this card myself a few days ago and to be honest since i don’t play any games i see zero difference with the radeon 9500 pro i replaced using word, the internet or email – but i’ll have to see if my porn runs any faster though and get back to you ;)
    that’s what the “X” meant silly – as in “X” rated!!

  4. Hellhole says:

    I know the whole graphics card thing is a scam these days and morons with money lap it up but but the ATI screenshot does look more colorful the nvidia one; i do admit.

  5. Manny says:

    Behold! I’m posting from the future, and this is still funny!

  6. Sonny Buzek says:

    One thing is one of the most typical incentives for making use of your credit cards is a cash-back or perhaps rebate offer. Generally, you’ll receive 1-5% back upon various purchases. Depending on the credit card, you may get 1% back again on most expenditures, and 5% back again on expenses made using convenience stores, filling stations, grocery stores along with ‘member merchants’.

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