As this card is aimed at the Vista market I decided to forgo testing on XP and concentrate on performance with Microsoft’s latest and greatest. Also, to ensure we were giving a fair reflection of the type of PC the potential buyer of this card would be using, we used a modest system based on an Athlon64 3400+ with 1GB RAM.
It was immediately obvious that the X1050 had no trouble dealing with Aero and it was a pleasure to use flip 3D, taskbar thumbnails, and all the other goodies therein. So, with that fairly simple test out the way, I had a go at getting through some of our 3D games we use for testing.
While it is no great surprise the X1050 struggled with our games, there was always a playable setting to be found, even if it meant dropping to 640 x 480. Most of the time, turning off the particularly demanding extras like soft shadows and HDR lighting and turning texture levels down to medium resulted in a significant increase in performance. So, where normally we run our tests at the highest settings possible, this time I turned off HDR and soft shadows, where possible, and reduced texture detail levels to medium. Also, I’d normally test with 8xAF and 4xAA but there was no way this card could have coped with that level of IQ, even at the lowest resolutions.
As you can see, for all the games except Counter-Strike: Source you’d need to play at 800 x 600 without any AA or AF to get remotely playable framerates. If you were to drop the detail and effects to their minimum, you would obtain better results but picture quality would suffer immensely. Fundamentally, you’d need to be a very casual gamer to be happy with this card.
As a first upgrade from integrated graphics, the X1050 does what it sets out to. It runs Vista’s Aero interface and gives you the freedom to play some more modern games, while also providing improved video playback.
If you really want to play games, though, you should save that little bit more and look to buy an X1650 or 7600GT for around £100.
Ultimately, what really hurts this card is that Connect3D has a passively cooled version available for a few pounds less and, given the choice, I’d recommend the silent one every time.