Sapphire Radeon 9200 Atlantis - HotHardware

Sapphire Radeon 9200 Atlantis

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Sapphire Radeon 9200 Atlantis 128MB Vivo/TV-Out
With ATi's Catalyst 3.4 Drivers

By - Tom Laverriere
June 12, 2003

The graphics card industry is a vicious one.  The relentless six month product cycle means PC enthusiasts are out shopping twice a year for a video card upgrade.  At $400 a whack for the top performing cards, their wallets take a mighty blow.  Then there's the rest of us, who cannot afford the industry's leading graphics card or keep up with the ever changing hardware.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel though.  The industry's graphics leaders, ATI and NVIDIA, have been offering their latest GPUs in a mainstream form, at lower speed bins or by shaving off features, thus driving down silicon real-estate and cost.  This allows them to advertise a card that offers similar features to their flagship GPUs but are simply running at lower clock speeds.  What does this mean for the end user?  Usually, it's a very difficult task choosing your next video card.  On the other hand, it means we get a capable graphics solution at an "affordable" price.

Today in the HotHardware labs we have a "Powered-by-ATI" mainstream card built by Sapphire.  Sapphire and ATI have teamed up quite a few times in the past and continue to do so using ATI's latest round of value VPUs.  In addition to offering 128MB of RAM, the Sapphire Radeon 9200 also offers VIVO (Video In & Video Out ) capabilities, which can help transform any system into a Home-Theater PC.  These extra features always add to the overall value of a graphics card, but I'm sure most of us are wondering how well this card will run through some popular game titles.  Let's have a look.
 

Specifications & Features of The Radeon 9200 Atlantis
Feature packed mainstream graphics solution

 
Sapphire Radeon 9200 128MB


 

Sapphire Radeon 9200 Atlantis 128MB

  • 250MHz Core Clock

MEMORY CONFIGURATION

  • 128MB of DDR  SDRAM - 200MHz DDR (Effective 400MHz)

CHARISMA ENGINE II

  • Four parallel rendering pipelines process up to 1.1 billion pixels per second

  • High performance 2nd generation hardware transform & lighting engine

  • Advanced vertex shader support for the latest programmable effects

SMARTSHADER? Technology

  • Full support for Microsoft® DirectX® 8.1 programmable pixel and vertex shaders in hardware

  • 1.4 Pixel Shaders support up to 22 instructions and up to 6 textures per rendering pass

  • 1.1 Vertex Shaders support vertex programs up to 128 instructions

  • Programmable shaders provide enhanced 3D effects in over 100 existing and upcoming game titles

  • Complete feature set also supported in OpenGL via extensions

SMOOTHVISION?

  • Image quality enhancement features for Direct3D? and OpenGL ® applications

  • Programmable full-scene anti-aliasing supports 2 to 6 samples with user selectable performance and quality modes

  • Advanced anisotropic filtering supports 2 to 16 samples for high quality texture rendering with minimal performance impact

HYPER Z? II

  • Lossless Z-Buffer Compression and Fast Z-Buffer Clear reduce memory bandwidth by up to 25%

VIDEO FEATURES

  • FULLSTREAM? Hardware accelerated de-blocking of Internet video streams

  • VIDEO IMMERSION? II delivers industry leading DVD playback

  • Integrated MPEG-2 decode including iDCT and motion compensation for top quality DVD with lowest CPU usage

  • Unique adaptive per-pixel de-interlacing feature combines the best elements of the "bob" and "add-field" (weave) techniques

  • YUV to RGB color space conversion

  • Back-end scaler delivers top quality playback

  • 4-tap horizontal and vertical filtering

  • Upscaling and downscaling

  • Filtered display of images up to 1920 pixels wide

  • Hardware mirroring for flipping video images in video conferencing systems

  • Supports 8-bit alpha blending and video keying for effective overlay of video and graphics

EXTRA FEATURES

  • Supports the new AGP 8X standard (2.0 GB/sec)

  • VIVO ( Video In & Video Out )

  • 128-bit floating-point color precision allows for a greater range of colors and brightness
     

The Radeon 9200 Atlantis Up Close
Feature packed mainstream graphics solution

PACKAGING AND BUNDLE

The Sapphire Radeon 9200 Atlantis comes with full VIVO support and because of that it packs all of the cabling one would need to take advantage of this feature.  The cabling provides S-Video and Composite Video in and out, as well as Audio input, to capture movies and the like.  Sapphire also throws in a DVI-to-Analog adapter for anyone using an LCD monitor.  The box ships with some impressive software as well, although we're sorry to say, Sapphire did not bundle any games with this card.  We do have Pinnacle Studio 8 included which is an excellent piece of software for all your video capturing / editing needs.  Also among the contents you'll find Cyberlink's PowerDVD XP v4.0 which is very capable DVD-playback software.  A Driver Installation CD and Sapphire's Redline tweaking tool are included as well.  All together a very impressive bundle provided by Sapphire considering this card's price.

SAPPHIRE'S REDLINE v1.9

Sapphire ships their own utility with their graphics cards dubbed Redline.  The Redline tool is a fairly powerful utility that allows users to tweak most of the card's settings from within Windows.  Options like anisotropic filtering, antialiasing, screen settings and so on are adjustable through this tool.  There is also an option to save any particular settings the user likes for gaming modes, 2D environments so they don't have to be manually adjusted every time.  Simply select the saved profile and voila, the settings are in place.  The Redline utility usually allows for overclocking as well, but unfortunately the Sapphire Radeon 9200 card is locked and is not overclockable.  Overall, this is a very nice tool provided by Sapphire and is definitely an added bonus for the end user.

A CLOSER LOOK AT THE HARDWARE

Attached to the Radeon 9200 GPU is a passive aluminum heatsink which is fairly small in size.  A side view of the heatsink shows how this cooling device is mounted to the GPU with a thermal pad.  Although this does cover ample surface area between the GPU and the heatsink, we would have preferred to see a heatsink that is mounted on the board via retention springs and uses thermal grease to transport the heat from the GPU to the heatsink.  With that said, the heatsink does get hot to the touch while the card is in use, so the heatsink is performing its job adequately enough.

This board is equipped with 4ns Hynix 309A memory modules clocked at 200MHz ( 400MHz effective ).  There are 8x16MB memory modules for a total of 128MB of memory ( 4 modules on top of the card, 4 on the back side ).  While there is some room for overclocking the memory, this board is "clock-locked" and cannot be overclocked.  Maybe a future BIOS hack will prove us wrong, but for now, the GPU ( 250MHz ) and memory ( 400MHz ) won't budge on this card.  Taking over the VIVO duties is the ATI Rage Theater chip placed just to the left of the heatsink.  The rear-slot bracket provides S-Video In/Out, AV-In/Out, and an Analog Monitor adapter.  Even with all these features, the board is still fairly wide open.  Let's plug this baby in and get some screen shots, shall we...

Next Up - Image Quality

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