Sapphire Ultimate Edition Radeons!

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The Sapphire Ultimate Edition Radeons! - Page 6

The Sapphire Ultimate Edition Atlantis 9800 Pro
The Sapphire Ultimate Edition Atlantis 9600 Pro
A Couple of Passively Cooled, Wild Looking Radeons!

By - Marco Chiappetta
July 25, 2003

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!

The Sapphire 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 benchmark.

Overclocking With The Sapphire Ultimate Editions
"Cuz, 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 default.

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 impressive 21%!

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...

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