Gigabyte & Sapphire Radeon 9500 Pros
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.
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.
GIGABYTE MAYA II
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...
9500 ATLANTIS PRO:
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
get some in the HotHardware PC Hardware Forum, now!