After forty-eight solid hours of lab testing...and five games later, we can declare that the Radeon 9800 XT has nearly visually met our expectations in everything we've hoped for. Although, when looking at recent PC games such as Halo (and even the unreleased Doom III), we must say that the conflict is either within the game-designers developing too hastily, or GPU-designers developing too slowly. A sadly large portion of the average-consumer market is unable to play the various new resource-intensive titles, even with visual/performance settings set only half way.
For the old-school'ers in the audience: don't expect much of a noticeable performance boost in your games if you're currently running anything above a GeForce 3 Ti500. Aside from Halo PC, the games chosen for this article are not ones which you will commonly find as a basis for a FPS benchmarks, but rather ones chosen for simple comparisons of quality of image and visual performance whilst dealing with the latest and greatest DirectX 9-capable games.
Would we recommend purchasing a Radeon 9800 XT for the visual-performance aspect? This depends of course on what you would be upgrading from. Nevertheless, if you are a hardcore gamer who needs to be playing the latest, with the greatest, then the 9800 XT is exactly what will fulfill your needs. Most importantly to some enthusiasts: Would we recommend purchasing a Radeon 9800 XT for the FPS advantage, smoothness of game-play and quick load times? This, once again, depends. As the TweakTown golden rule of thumb, if you're on a restricted or set budget, and don't like to be constantly worried about the state of your hardware, simply re-purchase your PC's components when the most powerful of its class is forty-percent to fifty-percent higher in both performance and features.
Throughout this article, we have done our best to both demonstrate and illustrate the visual advantages given to one planning an upgrade to one of ATi's top-of-the-line enthusiast graphics cards. Bear in mind that this card does not run for cheap; but, luckily you can score pretty well by picking up an OEM version from Allstarshop who (whether intentionally or not) include all the parts and accessories you can expect from a retail Radeon 9800 XT 256MB.
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