We continued our
OpenGL testing with some tests using Croteam's Serious Sam:
The Second Encounter. We configured the game to use
OpenGL and ran the "Little Trouble" time demo using the
"Extreme Quality" script, created again by the folks at
Beyond3D. This script was used to max out the texture
and filtering quality, and to be sure all of the cards were
tested using the exact same in-game options.
Head-to-Head / Performance
With Serious Sam: TSE
Sam...Don't Take Yourself So Seriously!
Ultimate Edition Radeons also performed well in this test.
At 1024x768 at every AA level, all of the cards posted
playable frame rates. At 1600x1200, with AA disabled,
the 9800 and 9600 Pros again performed well. It wasn't
until we enabled 4X AA on the Radeon 9600s and 6X AA on the
Radeon 9800s that frame rates fell below playable levels.
If you've been paying attention, you probably noticed that
the Sapphire Ultimate Edition Radeon 9800 Pro consistently
came in just a hair behind the Gigabyte card, and the
Sapphire Ultimate Edition Radeon 9600 Pro outpaced the ATi
build card in the majority of tests. Please don't read
into these slight differences. All of the performance
deltas we saw fell within the margin of error in every
Overclocking With The Sapphire Ultimate Editions
Chasing Chickens is How We Used to do it in the
Old Days!" - Mick
We used the
latest version of Rage3D Tweak to overclock the cores and
memory on the Sapphire Ultimate Edition Radeons until we
began to see visual artifacts on the screen. The
benefits of overclocking are not always clear, so to
demonstrate the performance differences we saw when the
cards were overclocked, we re-ran the very taxing Gun Metal
benchmark, which has AA and Aniso Filtering enabled by
We had pretty
good luck overclocking both of the Sapphire Ultimate Edition
cards. You would think that with passive coolers, the
overclocking potential of these cards would be greatly
diminished, but you'd be wrong! It's true that
they didn't overclock quite as highly as some similar cards
we've reviewed in the past, but they did overclock very well
nonetheless. We were able to take the Ultimate Edition
Radeon 9800 Pro up from its default core and memory clock
speeds of 380MHz / 340MHz to 419MHz / 369MHz. With
these higher clock speeds, we saw an 8.6% increase in
performance. The Ultimate Edition Radeon 9600 Pro
fared much better. We took its core and memory clock
speeds all the way to 492MHz / 365MHz, from their defaults
of 400MHz / 300MHz. With the Ultimate Edition Radeon
9600 Pro, performance in the Gun Metal benchmark jumped an
Overall, we were
very pleased with both of Sapphire's new Ultimate Edition
Radeon Cards. Aside from their higher prices, there
really is nothing holding back either one of these products.
They both performed well when compared to similar products,
they generate absolutely no noise and they both shipped with
a very nice assortment of bundled software and accessories.
As of today, the Sapphire Ultimate Edition Radeon 9600 Pro
can be found for about $199 US at a few on-line retailers.
Its non-Ultimate counterpart is selling for roughly $150 US.
The Ultimate Edition 9800 Pro on the other hand commands
$459 US as of today. Its standard 9800 Pro sibling has
a price tag of $372 US. Deciding whether or not the
silent operation is worth the approximate 20% price premium
is up to you, but we suspect there are a few of you out
there that would love to quiet down their systems. In
the end, anyone looking for a Radeon 9800 Pro or 9600 Pro
would be well served by either one of these cards. The
only people who should steer clear of these products are the
ones who simply cannot sacrifice their first PCI slot, or
whose systems have insufficient ventilation. We highly
doubt that any of you reading this today fall into this
group, however. If their prices were a bit more
aggressive, we may have rated these cards higher, but as it
stands today we're giving both the Sapphire Ultimate Edition
Radeon 9800 Pro and the Ultimate Edition Radeon 9600 Pro
8.5s on the HotHardware Heat Meter...
Win a Sapphire Ultimate Edition Radeon 9800 Pro!
Find Out How in the PCHardware Forum!