The idea behind Power Color's 9800 PE is novel. It is able to offer a workable game play experience at 1024 x 768 at a great price but when you increase the resolution up to 1600 x 1200 or enable high image quality, it struggles to keep up and to be able to offer good performance but that's what you get when you are at this price range level of graphics cards which could be considered "lower-mid range".
Priced just over the $160 US ($230 AU) mark, the 9800 PE is priced slightly cheaper than the 9600 XT Bravo by a few dollars but that will all depend on which retailer you look at for pricing details. As our benchmarks showed, the 9800 PE is typically quicker than the 9600 XT Bravo but the results are fairly similar throughout and only just quicker by a few frames per second when it comes to real-world gaming.
As we expected, the full 256-bit and higher clocked 9800 XT was a lot quicker than the 9800 PE in every test by over 50% and up to 70% in some cases. However, for that performance increase, you'll pay at least twice as much as the 9800 PE. And if you have the big bucks to spend on an X800 series graphics card, you'll almost see just as big improvement increase again.
The overclocking results of the 9800 PE were quite good on the memory side of things but we could only overclock the core by 5% (or 18MHz) which was disappointing. Nevertheless, we managed to obtain a few extra frames per second with the mild overclock which we were able to achieve, but we would have rendered far more impressive results if the core overclocked just as well as the memory. It is worth noting that when testing the card on our test system setup outside of a case, the card felt hot (even when not overclocked). As with most modern graphics cards, good air flow within your case is very important if you want to maintain stability and the life of the card.
Bottom line, the Power Color 9800 Platinum Edition offers workable graphics performance for the very reasonable price you are paying for the graphics cards. The package is on the slim side but that's all you can expect when you are buying a graphics card in this price range. If you are expecting to buy the 9800 PE and play Doom 3, Far Cry or any other recent game at a high resolution and or high image quality, it's just not the graphics card for you. On the other hand, if you are building up a new system on a budget and want good value for money graphics performance, the 9800 PE might work quite well for you.
If the 9800 PE was a little cheaper, like around the $140 US mark, we would have felt more confident awarding the 9800 PE an award for value and a higher rating but it wasn't to be.
Value for money
Good graphics performance for price
Heat spreaders on memory
Good memory overclocking
Poor GPU overclocking
Rating - 8.5 out of 10
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