The overall performance of the ASUS EAX1650XT 256MB, especially as it relates to the GeForce 7600 GT, is highly dependant on the game or application benchmark used. Like the other Radeon X1000 series cards before it, the X1650 XT is tuned towards high-end SM3.0 performance, at the expense of greater pixel-pushing power. The GeForce 7600 GT 256MB is more of a hybrid design, providing mainstream performance across the spectrum of 3D games. But this also means that with higher-end SM3.0 games like F.E.A.R. and Company of Heroes, the ASUS EAX1650XT 256MB will have a performance advantage, while still falling short on older or less-robust games. It's been this way since the ATI introduced the Radeon X1000 graphics line, and the ASUS implementation of the Radeon X1650 XT has the same set of pros and cons.
The retail price of a Radeon X1650 XT 256MB card currently sits in the $145-$155 range, and surprisingly, the ASUS EAX1650XT 256MB is right in the thick of things, selling for approximately $150. We say this because the ASUS name usually entails a slight price premium, and it's amazing you can get the ASUS quality, performance, retail package, and 3-year warranty for the same price as the other brands. Although there are lower-cost OEM models, this price tag compares quite well to name brand GeForce 7600 GT 256MB cards, which also sit in the same basic price range.
In fact, the ASUS EN7600GT 256MB also sells for $150, while other mainstream and high-end cards include the Radeon X1600 Pro 256MB ($90-$100), GeForce 6600 GT 128MB ($90-$100), Radeon X1600 XT 256MB ($115-$125), Radeon X1650 Pro 256MB ($125-$140) GeForce 7600 GT 256MB ($135-$155), and GeForce 6800 GS ($150-$165) cards. ASUS also offers a CrossFire version of the EAX1650XT 256MB which sells for approximately $10 more than the standard version.
* Please note that online prices reflect Retail models when possible, only OEM where noted. Prices are taken at the time of review, and are not intended to reflect long-term trends.
The ASUS EAX1650XT 256MB may not be a GeForce 7600 GT-killer, but it does provide very competitive features and performance, and at a very similar price point. The addition of the RV560 core also makes it a significant improvement compared to the Radeon X1600 XT and X1650 Pro. But like other Radeon X1000 graphics cards, the newer and more SM3.0-demanding the game, the better the relative performance will be against the GeForce 7600 GT, and vice versa. ASUS has done a very good job with their take on the Radeon X1650 XT, and perhaps best of all, now offers ATI fans a compelling alternative in the mainstream market.