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It is fast. NPOT textures are filtered using shaders, and shaders are fast. Yep, r500 supports GL2.1 and GLSL1.2 in theory, and even more: it supports ARB_shader_texture_lod, which is a subset of GLSL1.3 (unimplemented in Mesa).
and R300g can handle 'Vertex Texture Fetch' by a hack of 'Render_To_VertexBuffer'
in that point of view a X1950 can handle OpenGL3.......
and the old Radeon 8500 True-form Tesselation unit is used by the R300g to hack OpenGL4 in full speed on an X1950...