We have published two other Radeon X1600 XT reviews, one of the ATI reference model and another from HIS. On both reviews we didn’t like Radeon X1600 XT, as it was too expensive for the performance it delivers. Radeon X1600 XT could be (and still is) found between USD 167 and USD 200.
This special model from Sapphire, however, can be found at USD 140 at Newegg, just 10 bucks more than the standard Radeon X1600 XT from the same manufacturer, a lot cheaper than models from other companies. ASUS carries a model also with silent cooling, quoted at USD 161 on the same on-line store.
With this price, it is just a little bit more expensive than GeForce 7600 GS (a model from MSI is quoted between USD 117 and USD 136 at Shopping.com), but it is far better than this NVIDIA chip except on Doom 3.
Sapphire Radeon X1600 XT Ultimate was between 10% and 25% faster than GeForce 7600 GS on 3DMark03, between 31% and 73% faster on 3DMark05 and up to 22% faster on Far Cry. On Doom 3, however, GeForce 7600 GS was between 12% and 31% faster.
GeForce 7600 GT provides a far better performance than GeForce 7600 GS and is faster than Radeon 1600 XT (except on Far Cry with no image quality enhancements enabled): it was between 30% and 66% faster than the reviewed VGA on 3DMark03, between 5% and 19% faster on 3DMark05, between 31% and 101% faster on Doom 3 and between 46% and 59% on Far Cry with image quality settings enabled.
Oh yes, GeForce 7600 GT is more expensive and, generally speaking, is a far better product than Radeon X1600 XT. But then comes pricing, and this model from Sapphire is quoted exactly between GeForce 7600 GS and GeForce 7600 GT.
So, here are our conclusions: if you are thinking on buying a GeForce 7600 GS, consider this model from Sapphire – but there are two “ifs”. First, we think USD 140 is a great price for this card, and it is only worthwhile if you find it costing around this value. You will pay just a little bit more and will carry home a VGA with better performance – if (and here is our second if) you don’t run Doom 3 or any games based on the same engine, like Quake 4.
But if you have more than USD 140 to spend on a video card, go for a GeForce 7600 GT, as it smashes Radeon X1600 XT, especially on Doom 3 (it achieves the double of Radeon X1600 XT performance at 1600×1200).
Bottom line: this is a terrific card if you can buy it around USD 140 and you don’t play Doom 3 or Quake 4.
We are giving this card our “Silver Award” (our Golden Award goes to GeForce 7600 GT), but keep in mind these “ifs” when thinking about it.