Sapphire Radeon 9700 Atlantis Pro

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Sapphire Technology Radeon 9700 Atlantis Pro
A newcomer brings The Radeon 9700 To Market

By -Dave Altavilla
October 14, 2002

Test System and Drivers
The new and improved...Catalyst

Our test system consisted of the following components:

Sapphire Radeon 9700 Atlantis Pro (Drivers - Catalyst Version 0.23)
NVIDIA GeForce 4 Ti 4600 Reference Board (Drivers - Version 40.72 Beta)

Common Hardware and Software:

Intel Pentium 4 2.4GHz

ASUS P4B533-E Motherboard - i845E Chipset

512MB PC3200 Corsair CAS2 DDR DRAM

IBM 30GB ATA-100 7200RPM Hard Drive

On board sound

WinXP Professional w/ SP1

DirectX 8.1

Intel Chipset Drivers Version 4.04

Intel Application Accelerator
 


 

We've shown you a few screen shots of the new ATi Catalyst drivers, in previous articles.  Not much has changed since we've looked at them last but we've captured a few control panel tabs here for you anyway.

   

ATi's drivers certainly have come a long way, in terms of performance, stability and functionality. There are an impressive array of quality settings available to the end user, for adjustment in areas such as Anti-Aliasing, Anisotropic Filtering, Texture Sharpness and MipMap Level detail.  We have to say that driver stability across a multitude of platforms, doesn't quite feel up to the level of NVIDIA's product but it is certainly up to a level of quality now that we feel confident in recommending the product to our readers. 

We should also note that at least one i850E motherboard in our lab, the Asus P4T533, absolutely refused to boot with the Sapphire Radeon 9700 and only posted machine language garble on our monitor.  However, as we've come to find out, this particular motherboard has issues with Radeon 9700 cards in general and is desperately in need of a BIOS fix.  So we won't hold that against the Sapphire product, as it worked flawlessly in several other boards we tried during testing.

Overclocking The Sapphire Radeon 9700 Atlantis Pro
One word... impressive.

We've had limited success with overclocking Radeon 9700 cards from ATi here in the HotHardware Torture Chambers.  It seems that, at least for the ATi branded variants we've had the pleasure of testing, the upper limits are right around 340MHz core clock speed and 340MHz (680MHz DDR) memory clock speed, at least without serious graphical anomalies.  Here's what the Sapphire Radeon 9700 Pro was able to withstand.

We were more than impressed to see that the core held up nicely all the way up to 375MHz, with the test case closed and no additional cooling.  We typically like to overclock test products around the lab in a closed chassis environment, since it is more typical of the average end user's setup.  At 375MHz core, there were no graphical glitches and the core was stable for the several runs of 3DMark 2001SE that we tested.  We were able to coax the memory bus on the card up to 350MHz (700MHz DDR) but that was all the Samsung chips could handle before they would pop pixels and tear textures.  Regardless, these were  the highest clock speeds we've seen to date, from any Radeon 9700 that we've tested. 

We'll toss in the standard disclaimer here, since there is always a slight chance that OEMs "cherry pick" cards for our review.  However, we can't help but be impressed at how well the core speed scaled, with that fancy looking heat sink and fan combo on top.

Here are the fruits of our overclocking labor, as represented in some 3DMark 2001SE testing.

As you'll note in the above graph, we're only comparing this Radeon 9700 product to the GeForce 4 Ti 4600 here and for this entire analysis. The reason for this here is that 99.99% of all graphics cards, built on the same core chipset and memory, perform within 2 - 5% of each other, while at stock clock speeds.  There wasn't much point in comparing it to the ATi Radeon 9700, with perhaps the exception of an overclocking test, as the scores would be very similar. 

What we thought was a more interesting metric, was to see how the Sapphire Radeon 9700 Pro performed versus a GeForce 4 Ti 4600, with NVIDIA's latest release of the Detonator 40.72 drivers and the R9700 with the latest Catalyst version.  NVIDIA claims up to a 25% performance improvement, depending on the application, with this latest driver release.  ATi has been working hard as well, getting their driver suite stabilized and optimized.  Let's have a look at what today's leading 3D Powerhouses are capable of.

 

Screenshots and Unreal Tournament 2003 Benchmarking

Tags:  Radeon, Sapphire, App, LAN, SAP, pro, AP

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