Radeon 9500 Pro Battle Sapphire vs. Gigabyte

Radeon 9500 Pro Battle Sapphire vs. Gigabyte - Page 6

The Gigabyte Maya II R9500 Pro
The Sapphire Radeon 9500 Atlantis Pro
Premium Performance, Mainstream Price

By - Tom Laverriere
& Marco Chiappetta
February 3, 2003


Overclocking The Gigabyte & Sapphire Radeon 9500 Pros
Sorry...not today...

Now the moment everyone has been waiting for, overclocking.  As we mentioned earlier, the R9500 Pros are said to be "locked" at their default memory and core clock speeds (540MHz Memory / 275MHz core).  We went ahead to see if this is true or not, and used Powerstrip to push these cards above and beyond the call of duty.  Both my counterpart Marco and I found the same things.  The cards overclocked, but without any appreciable performance gain.  In fact on the Maya II, we were able to hit a 317MHz core clock speed with the memory clocked at 297MHz ( 594MHz DDR ), but performance did not scale accordingly.  We only gained a measly 2 FPS in Serious Sam and a meaningless 200 points in 3DMark.  Almost immediately after altering the clock speeds, we experienced in-game visual anomalies and even desktop corruption, so we're confident in saying the clock speeds did actually change, but the speed increases did not translate into any real performance gains.  There have been reports that a BIOS hack is needed to "unlock" the 9500 Pro, but we have yet to verify this on our own. 

After getting pretty close with both of these cards, I think it's easy to see that they both offer great "bang for the buck".  Both the Gigabyte and Sapphire put the Ti4600 to shame once AA and Aniso was enabled.  With these cards in the $180 price range at Newegg, who isn't going to want one of these babies?  We're both glad we got a chance to review these cards.  Both were a pleasure to work with.  We can recommend either of these cards to anyone and feel confident in doing so.  ATI has proven once again that their hottest VPU is the real deal.


During our testing we made a lot of comparisons to the Ti4600.  Between the two Radeon 9500 Pro cards, looking back we can see that the Gigabyte managed to outperform the Sapphire in a few benchmarks and the Sapphire took the lead here and there as well.  So, this match-up, performance wise, was certainly a virtual draw.  As far as "bang for the buck" goes, we'd have to give it to the Gigabyte card, due to its generous bundle, physical appearance, and performance.  I think its hard to give a performance edge to either since they are so closely matched, but what the end user ultimately wants is performance now, performance that will last into the future and value.  I'll put a checkmark in all three categories for the Gigabyte Maya II R9500 Pro.  We're giving the Gigabyte Maya II R9500 Pro a HotHardware Heat Meter rating of 9...



The Sapphire Radeon 9500 Atlantis Pro, although it doesn't come equipped with an impressive game bundle, like the Maya II 9500 Pro, is still a card that is easily recommended.  Even though it finished second to the Gigabyte card in some of the benchmarks, it managed to stay right on its heels and even outdo its competitor in a few cases as well.  However, the heat sink on this card is overshadowed by the Gigabyte Maya II's golden plated cooling.  On the other hand, needless to say the Sapphire was also able to put the Ti4600 to shame just as easily as the Maya II.  With the Sapphire Radeon 9500 Atlantis Pro, you get a barebones, no frills, but excellent performing card.    It all depends on what someone is looking for.  We believe that the bottom line is, most folks want all around performance in any environment, whether it be 2D, 3D or DVD playback.  The "Powered by ATI" Sapphire Radeon 9500 Atlantis Pro will give you that without question.  We're giving the Sapphire R9500 Atlantis Pro a HotHardware Heat Meter rating of 8.5...

** NOTE**  Update 2/3/2003:
After launch of this article, a representative from Sapphire contacted us to inform us that retail packages of the Sapphire Radeon 9500 Atlantis Pro, will come packed with a DVI Dongle, an over-clocking utility called "Redline" and full release version of Soldier of Fortune 2.  These are welcomed additions to an already high value package from Sapphire Tech.  At roughly $180 retail, these additions only make the value proposition for the card that much better.  While we can't comment on the performance or effectiveness of the "Redline" overclocking utility at this time, the Dongle and game bundle are tangibles that will definitely make a difference to the end user, regardless of product performance.

 Come get some in the HotHardware PC Hardware Forum, now!

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