In recent years, manufacturer’s name Sapphire Technologies
may have become familiar to you. Having been in the business
for over 10 years, Sapphire didn’t hit consumer spotlight
until 2001, when they became one of ATI’s first OEM
Fast forwarding to the current day, Sapphire is
one of ATI’s primary 3rd party manufacturers,
with the broadest retail offering of ATI based cards, they
have the capability to produce 1.8 million graphic cards at
their two manufacturing facilities in
Dongguan, China per month.
Almost a year ago, Sapphire released their Radeon 9700 Pro
product to the public and soon thereafter came a refined
product called “Ultimate Edition” (we reviewed their
Atlantis Radeon 9500 Pro board
before). Today we are examining
their Radeon 9800 Atlantis Pro.
The obvious question is however, what this card offers over
the 9500-9700 core (R300 vs. newer R350)… you have been
hearing “not much”; we give you the details written on
paper, and the numbers.
Starting with the most evident, clock frequencies have been
improved over the older 9700 Pro, that is, 380MHz core speed
& 340MHz DDR memory clock (effectively 680MHz) versus the
Having that said, perhaps the biggest core improvement
consists of an optimized Hyper-Z engine, as well as updates
to ATI's Z- and Colour compression algorithms, which only
affect AA modes since these are not active in non-AA
There have been some other minor changes also: the power
connector has been changed to a Molex connector. The fan has
been improved upon and is now quieter than what came on top
of the 9700 (reference models). The voltage regulator setup
has been modified. A few additional heatsinks have also been
Given that we exposed the potential performance of the 9700
in one of our recent tests (see:
Sapphire- Crucial 9500 vs.
9700 Pro boards) and the lack of FX5900 board to compare,
this review will be solely dedicated to compare the newer
9800 Pro against a 9700 Pro… more than one of you might be
debating whether you should get one over the other (“old”
bargains, anyone?), so here we go.
After some quick n’ dirty tests where we underclocked the
9800 (identical clock frequencies to the 9700), it was not
any faster at all when no FSAA was used due to the fact that
the core improvements as I said above where limited to FSAA
However, when the same test was run with 4x FSAA and 8x Perf
AF enabled, the 9800 scored 10% faster than its older
brother, thus that difference is purely what the
improvements inside the new R350 core brought to the table.
When I cranked up the visuals even further to 4x FSAA and 8x
Quality AF, the 9800Pro impressively scored 30% faster than
its older brother (from 1024 to 1600 resolutions), you will
want to take a closer look to the complete numbers however.
As seen above, Sapphire included a Molex splitter cable,
and Composite TV out cables and a DVI-VGA converter
adapter along with the actual board; about the kind of
hardware we like to get, even if we don’t plan to make good
use of it, you never know. On the software side, full
versions of Return to Castle Wolfenstein and Soldier of
Fortune 2 are included. The software DVD player PowerDVD XP
v4.0 is included and Sapphire’s own “Redline” tweak utility
for overclocking purposes.
That, plus a printed 6 language installation manual and the
obligatory drivers CD.