When I bought my PC about four years ago, I went as high-end as I could afford, anticipating it would last a solid five or six years, and it’s done quite well up to this point. It was only when I started playing Oblivion that I started to pine for a new video card despite being able to run the game smoothly at mid-range settings. I’ve never had a problem running Everquest 2 on the “balanced” setting, and it’s always looked nice enough for me, but I still wanted more. Having an older motherboard with an AGP bus had severely limited my video card upgrade options until the announcement of the Radeon X1950 PRO, and I wanted one instantly.
After several consecutive years of abysmal failure in the annual hockey draft I enter, I came through this year and took top prize. With my winnings, I decided to purchase the Sapphire Radeon X1950 PRO to replace my Radeon 9800XT. EQ2 was the first game I launched after installing the card, and out of curiousity I cranked the settings up to the max. Surprisingly, I found the game to be quite playable (and gorgeous) depending on which zone I was in. I was grouped with my wife in Ruins of Varsoon and got a consistent 40 frames per second. East Freeport was another story however, and the game became a slideshow in that zone. I now run the game at high quality most of the time, knocking it back down to balanced for larger raids. I did notice that balanced on the new card looks much better than balanced did on the old card. The colours seem more vibrant, the view distance seems greater, and there are lots of little details that show up now that didn’t before. I’m definitely quite happy with the upgrade.
Of course, I had to try out all my other games that I no longer play just to see how they looked. Half Life 2 looked and played amazingly at maxed out settings; so much so that I’m going to try and play through it again at some point. I reinstalled Doom 3 and got a constant 60 fps while running at max settings. The only problem with Doom 3 was that I thought the game sucked, so once I saw how it looked and played, I uninstalled it. Oblivion looks absolutely amazing and runs quite well also. I’ll definitely be spending some time in that world over the next little while. I’m very curious to see how much of a difference it’ll make in Vanguard. I bought the game the day it came out, but I haven’t installed it yet (a story for an upcoming post).
All in all, I’m hoping this new card adds another couple years onto my computers life, and so far it’s looking pretty good. I’m also pleasantly surprised at how quiet the card is. I read a few reviews that said the fan on it can get quite loud while running, but it’s actually quieter than my old card, so colour me happy. Now, I have no idea what pixel or vertex shaders are, but I do know that my games all look and play beautifully.
Just for the curious, my system is as follows:
Intel Pentium 4, 3.4 GHz
2 GB 400-MHz DDR SDRAM
Sound Blaster Audigy 2