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Sapphire Radeon 9800 Pro "Ultimate Edition" Review

By: Mike Wright | AMD Radeon GPU in Video Cards | Posted: Aug 29, 2003 4:00 am
TweakTown Rating: 9.5%Manufacturer: Sapphire



What would a performance component review be without at least a note regarding overclocking?


Yes, even though we are towards the top end of the food chain, we still are looking for ways of getting that extra bit of performance. So we enthusiasts want to overclock our processors, our memory and our video boards.


So we went ahead and got greedy and cranked up the speeds to see how well the new kid on the block handles even more stress. And keep in mind that this particular type of video card has passive cooling in place with no fans. I think our results will speak for themselves, though.


Default settings of the 128MB version of the 9800 Pro graphics board is a core speed of 378MHz and a memory speed of 338MHz (676MHz DDR). Leaving the cooling alone and cranking up the settings, I was able to get the core to 439MHz and the memory to 372MHz (744MHz DDR) while remaining stable and without visual artifacts. This works out to a 16% overclock of the core and a 10% overclock of the memory...all while maintaining a totally silent operation of the video component.





As stated earlier, our goal in this review was to see if the 9800 Pro is worthy of the praise that was garnered by the older 9700 Pro boards. Since it is very hard to find a 9700 Pro to buy, we need to see if this new design is worth shelling out good money for.


And speaking of money, you can pick up this 128MB version of the Sapphire 9800 Pro Ultimate Edition board for US$389. Considering that the 256MB model will run you an extra $110, it's making this little brother look mighty enticing.


With regards to performance, we see that we can realistically expect to see noticeable gains of 9-16% in most 3D environments. Some will be a little less and some a bit more, but this is a good average figure to consider when thinking about your future purchases. Add to this the exceptional AA/AF performance and you have yourself a truly worthy investment.


Though the Heatpipe technology still works very well and remains totally silent, it did raise the internal case temperature by one degree at default speeds. It went up another notch when overclocking. While this was not a concern to me, I do have a case with very good airflow. If your enclosure has poor circulation, you may need to invest in some better airflow or a new case. Just something to consider, but I still love the fact that the video board makes no noise.


Bottom line... If you have been looking at getting a new video board and have a reasonable sum of money to spend on a high-end graphics solution, then you should look very hard at the Sapphire 9800 Pro Ultimate Edition. With excellent performance, quiet operation and a wide availability, you will be very pleased with all facets of this board.


- Pros


Large gains over the 9700 Pro


Passive cooling is totally silent


Ceramic heatshield between back sink and PCB


Decent overclockability


Reasonable price


- Cons


Raised case temperatures slightly


Rating - 9.5/10 and TweakTown's Editors Choice Award



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