VisionTek Xtasy 9800 Pro 128MB AGP - HotHardware

VisionTek Xtasy 9800 Pro 128MB AGP

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VisionTek Xtasy 9800 Pro 128MB AGP
Back from the Dead with a Whole New Attitude

By - Jeff Bouton
July 1, 2003

Introducing the VisionTek 9800 Pro 128MB
Hmmm...This Looks Familiar

When we took a closer look at the VisonTek Xtasy 9800 Pro 128, we found it to be the very same card that ATi offers.  VisionTek did not spend any time outfitting the card with unique features to give it a look of their own.  We thought a custom cooler would be a simple way to give the card a more recognizable appearance as a VisionTek product, but in the end, aside from the packaging, there is no discernable way to tell that this card is a VisionTek marketed product at all.  Instead we found ATi stamped on the cooler and an ATi sticker next to the Molex power connector.

The card is powered by ATi's R350 core, clocked at 380MHz.  The VPU has a standard cooling package that marries up nicely to a shim and thin layer of thermal grease for efficient heat transfer.  While the cooler is nothing more than a stock design, it is quite capable of managing the heat generated by the core both efficiently and quietly.  The VPU is complimented by 128MB of Samsung BGA DDR RAM clocked at 340MHz (680MHz DDR).  A 256MB model is also planned.  The card sports a standard VGA output as well as a DVI output for flat panel display support, each of which are powered by their own 400MHz RAMDAC.  Dual CRT monitor output is supported with the use of the VGA to DVI adapter provided in the packaging.  Between the two video outputs is the TV/Video out connector for those wanting to output video to a television or VCR..

 

All in all, there is nothing groundbreaking to be found with the VisionTek Xtasy 9800 Pro 128.  Its a standard reference design.  What you will find is a re-branded ATi Radeon 9800 Pro.  Before we get into the performance of this card, however, let's take a look at what makes it all come together.

ATi's Catalyst 3.4 Drivers
The Brains Behind the Brawn

One of the strong points for any ATi based video card is the Catalyst driver set.  The Catalyst drivers have a number of features to automatically adjust a cards feature for performance and stability and it appears to be working.  The interface has already undergone several revisions to help users easily access and understand all of the drivers features.  We are particularly fond of the Main Setting slider that lets the user adjust the various visual qualities with a single slider bar rather than manipulating each setting themselves.  However, they did not get in the way of the control freak, allowing for each setting to be manually set as well.

Clearly the ATi Catalyst Drivers are the brains behind a lot of this video card's capabilities.  Next we'll take a quick look and the various presets in the Catalyst drivers and see how each compares as the visual quality is increased.

 

Eye Candy with Antialiasing & Anisotropic Filtering Enabled
This is Unreal!

We often like to throw a little eye candy your way when we review a powerful video card that is capable of running extreme visual qualities.  This time around we opted for Serious Sam: The Second Encounter, to demonstrate the various preset settings within the Catalyst 3.4 driver set.  Below you'll see four examples of the graphics quality while running the OpenGL demo.  Instead of manually configuring each screen, we adjusted the Main Setting slider between Performance, Balanced & Quality and then wrapped things up by manually increasing each setting to their maximum.

Performance
Balanced

Quality

Maximum

With the drivers set for performance we can see a lot of jagged edges with the tree, water line and gun, and there is low detail on the grass.  When we increased the setting to Balanced, the drivers increased the Texture preference and Mipmap detail levels which improved the quality ever so slightly versus the Performance setting.  Next we increased the slider to Quality which set the Texture preference and Mipmap detail levels to their maximums and turned on Antialiasing at 4X and Anisotropic filtering to 16X.  Now we see the texture and detail of the grass really come out and the jagged edges of the tree, water line and gun greatly reduced, the overall picture really sharpened up nicely.  Lastly we pushed Antialiasing to the top setting of 6X.  It turned out to be difficult comparing the Maximum settings vs. Quality, but as we continued to look we could see slightly greater details in the grass at further distances, but overall it was tough to tell the difference.

Next we'll take a look at gaming performance with several familiar OpenGL and DirectX based games to see how the Xtasy 9800 Pro 128 compared to the competition.

Benchmarking the Xtasy 9800Pro!

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