Sapphire, a company that many of you first heard about when the R300 first launched in 2002 is at it again with the Sapphire Atlantis Radeon 9800 XT video card. Sapphire has steadily improved their video cards with new packaging, popular bundled games, and their own overclocking software.
If one takes a look back at the video card industry over the
last few years, it is very easy to conclude that it is definitely one of the
most competitive, and hardest to predict in the computer world. We’ve seen
companies come and go, many shine then struggle, and others come from relative
obscurity to the pinnacle of the market. Such is the case of ATi, a company
that not many hardcore gamers took seriously until their release of the Radeon
9700 Pro (R300) in 2002. With the advent of R300, ATi finally pulled ahead
of Nvidia in the high-end flagship video card niche sector, one that may not
be the most profitable but is nevertheless one of the most important.
ATi has held their position at the top since R300 and through
its last high end product, the R350 or the Radeon 9800 Pro. With the 6 month
(or sometimes shorter) product cycle upon us, ATi has recently announced their
latest video card, the R360 or the Radeon 9800 XT. The R360 itself is an engineering
marvel reflective of ATi’s engineering talent and prowess. They have stuck
with the .15µ die process, the same process they used with the Radeon
9700 Pro, and pumped the Radeon 9800 XT up to a core speed of 412Mhz and a
memory speed of 365Mhz, a far cry from the Radeon 9700 Pro’s 325Mhz core speed
and 310Mhz memory speed. The fact that ATi was able to surpass the 400Mhz
core clock speed barrier is very impressive in a .15µ die process, but
as the ATi roadmap states, the R360 will definitely be the last of the .15µ
based flagship video cards, with the R420 using the .13µ process ATi
has already started perfecting in their mid-ranged graphics cards.
As many of you know, the launch of the Radeon 9800XT looked
like it was going to be hand in hand with the launch of Half Life 2. ATi and
Valve signed an exclusive packaging contract that allowed ATi and their add-in
board partners to include Half Life 2 with their new lines of video cards.
But unfortunately, Half Life 2 has been delayed until some time in 2004 and
instead of including the actual game in the box, ATi and its partners include
a certificate with a unique key that will allow you to download the game online
or have it shipped to you for a shipping fee.
With that aside, lets talk about the new features of the Radeon
9800 XT. As one would expect, the changes have not been too drastic, namely
an increased core and memory speed and hardware monitoring of the core, a
feature used by ATi’s Overdrive technology. Overdrive, first included in the
Catalyst 3.8 driver suite. Overdrive safely overclocks the core of the 9800
XT while playing certain games, a very interesting feature that we’ll test
out in the review.
With that said, Sapphire, a company that many of you first heard
about when the R300 first launched in 2002 is at it again with the Sapphire
Atlantis Radeon 9800 XT video card. Sapphire has steadily improved their
with new packaging, popular bundled games, and their own overclocking software.
They’ve already proven they can stand their own in a highly competitive market,
and have received many awards for their commitment to the enthusiast community.
So let’s take a look at the Sapphire Atlantis Radeon 9800 XT and see if it
has what it takes to succeed in the high end video card sector.
|GPU||RADEON 9800 XT|
|Memory||256MB onboard DDR RAM|
|Memory / Core interface||256-bit DDR|
|DirectX 3D Hardware||DirectX 9|
|RAMDAC||Dual 400MHz RAMDACs|
|Output options||DVI-I Output / TV Output / VGA Output|
||2048×1536 @ 85Hz|
Package Contents :
RCA Video Cable
S-video to RCA converter
DVI to VGA converter
Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness
Half Life 2 voucher
Redline Tweak Utility
Once again Sapphire provides a very strong bundle with their
video card including the new Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness game. Ever
since the Sapphire Atlantis Radeon 9700 Pro Ultimate Edition launched, Sapphire
has shipped their video cards with very strong bundles, helping the manufacturer
stand out in the market.