Kudos goes to ATI, for the newly redesigned cooler on the Radeon X1950 XTX looks like a winner. Although it seems even more massive than the older cooler, the generous use of memory heatsinks and heat-pipes mean that the fan has the luxury of spinning at a less frenetic pace. In fact, these characteristics reminded us of HIS' IceQ3 cooler. While they are not exactly the same, they both use a combination of RAM sinks and a heat-pipe based cooler to get the job done. The end result is that this is probably one of the quietest reference high-end Radeon X1K card to date. There were moments when we could tell that the fan has ramped up in intensity, especially during peak benchmarking but overall, it is still far better than the reference ones found on the older Radeon X1900 series. If not for your wallet, the Radeon X1950 XTX would definitely please your ears.
Besides the cooler, the specifications of the X1950 XTX are quite similar to the existing top of the line Radeon X1900 XTX 512MB. The exception of course is the new DDR4 memory support, which seems to have required sufficient internal tweaks to justify the addition of a '+' in the name of the new core. Architecturally, the RD580+ core is exactly the same as the old, including the same number (48) of pixel processors. Even the core clock remains the same at 650MHz. The spectacular increase has been in the memory clock and type, which gets bumped up from the old 1550MHz GDDR3 to a milestone 2.0GHz GDDR4. Memory bandwidth is probably not the most urgent concern for ATI's Radeon X1K architecture so we understand if you're skeptical on how much of a performance boost would result from the faster memory clocks.
Finally, the other trademark features of a high-end Radeon X1K card are present. The Rage Theater ASIC for video capturing and the whole Avivo works will naturally be supported. With the trend nowadays, HDCP support is inevitable on such a high-end graphics card and as expected, this is true. According to ATI, the Radeon X1950 XTX is fully HDCP compliant with the required hardware keys for decoding. For those who have the cash to burn, there's also a CrossFire edition version of the Radeon X1950 XTX for a dual GPU setup.