We continued our
testing with Croteam's Serious Sam: The Second Encounter.
We configured the game to use OpenGL (this is one of the few
games that can use either DirectX or OpenGL) and ran a
series of tests using the built-in "Little Trouble" demo.
We used the "Extreme
Quality" script created by the folks at Beyond3D to be
certain all of the cards were tested using the same in-game
settings and graphical options. We
ran the tests at 1024x768 and again at 1600x1200, with and
without AA enabled.
Head-to-Head / Performance
With Serious Sam: TSE
Lots of Guns, Action and Explosions!
At 1024x768 without Antialiasing
enabled, this benchmark belonged to the GeForce FX 5800
Ultra. When we upped the resolution and turned on AA,
however, the 9800 Pros took over. With 4X AA and 6X AA
enabled at 1024x768, the 256MB Radeon was approximately 4.7%
and 4.9% faster then its 128MB cousin. The 256MB 9800
Pro's lead grew to over 8.1% with the resolution set to
1600x1200 with 4X AA enabled, but dropped backed down to
2.2% with 6X AA enabled.
Overclocking With The 256MB Radeon 9800 Pro
it was Fast, But We Made It Faster.
RADEON 9800 PRO 256MB
OVERCLOCKED (428 / 810)
RADEON 9800 PRO 256MB
DEFAULT CLOCK SPEEDS
At default clock speeds, the
256MB Radeon 9800 Pro is an extremely fast video card.
We have to admit that seeing this card released with the
same core clock speed as the 128MB Radeon 9800 Pro was a bit
of a let down though. Every video card we have tested
based on an R3xx GPU has had quite a bit of headroom left,
so we were hoping ATi would release this card with higher
clock speeds than previous models. To remedy our pain,
we installed Rage3D Tweak and overclocked our 256MB Radeon
9800 Pro until our test system was no longer stable.
We were able to take our card all the way up to a core clock
speed of 428MHz, with the memory clocked at 810MHz (405MHz
DDR). That's a full 48MHz (12.7%) higher than the
default core clock speed and 110MHz (15.7%) higher than the
default memory speed! Note: Overclocking Results
MAY NOT be typical of cards sold at retail. We
ran 3DMark03's default benchmark with the card overclocked
and saw a significant 7% increase in the overall score.
The card actually overclocked much higher than this, but
performance decreased and there were a ton of
visual artifacts. We suspect one (or multiple) pixel
pipelines stopped working at higher clock speeds.
Overall we were impressed with
the 256MB ATi Radeon 9800 Pro. However, It is tough to
justify spending the extra money for a 256MB video card at
the moment. We're certain the extra memory will
come in handy in the future, when more demanding games like
Doom III or Half Life 2 are
released, but for now there isn't much of a benefit unless
you're running at higher resolutions with Antialiasing
enabled. Presently, the 128MB Radeon 9800 Pro can be found for
approximately $400 at some on-line retailers. When it
256MB model's street price is expected to hover
around $500. Deciding whether or not the
extra performance is worth the $100 price premium is
ultimately up to you, but we suspect most owners of Radeon
9500 class cards, or better, won't be upgrading anytime
soon. We'll also have to wait to see what NVIDIA has
up their sleeves with the NV35 (although a little bird tells
us we won't have to wait long). In the end though, ATi does
have an impressive product on their hands. Thanks to
the R350 core, and a mature driver package, the 256MB Radeon
9800 Pro offers top-of-the-line performance and arguably the
best image quality available from any consumer level video
card currently available. The extra memory should also
longer life-span and will enable "super" high-quality modes
in some games through the use of larger, more detailed
textures. Until the competition proves otherwise,
enthusiasts looking for the ultimate gaming video card
should look no further than the 256MB ATi Radeon 9800 Pro.
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