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Sapphire Radeon 9800XT Videocard Review

Sapphire Radeon 9800XT Videocard Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: Sapphire includes all of the complementary hardware you need, including a power extension, a DVI-to-VGA adapter, and an S-Video-to-composite adapter for output to a television.
 79% Rating:   
Filed under: Video Cards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Sapphire Feb 03 2004   Chris Angelini  
Home > Reviews > Video Cards > Sapphire Radeon 9800XT

Sapphire's Take on Pricing, and 3DMark03

Keeping in mind that online prices are highly volatile and fluctuate on almost a daily basis, Sapphire's RADEON 9800 XT 256MB runs about $450USD ($600CDN) dollars. That is, it costs $10 dollars more than VisionTek's 9800 XT card, which doesn't include the Tomb Raider game.

Compared to its primary competition from NVIDIA, the GeForce FX 5950 Ultra 256MB, Sapphire's RADEON 9800 XT is a bit pricy. The flagship NVIDIA card goes for about $415USD dollars online. But then again, if you're looking for top performance, an extra $35 might not make a difference. And when you consider the price you'd otherwise have to pay for Half-Life 2 and Tomb Raider, Sapphire's offering can be decidedly more attractive.

Now for the benchmarks!

PCStats Test System Specs:
Processor:

Intel Pentium 4 3.2 (800MHz)

Clock Speed: 16 x 200 MHz = 3.2 GHz
Motherboard:

Aopen AX4C Max (Intel 875P/ICH5-R)

Videocard: Sapphire RADEON 9800 XT 256MB (CATALYST 3.9)
ATI RADEON 9800 Pro 128MB Reference (CATALYST 3.9)
NVIDIA GeForce FX 5950 Ultra 256MB (Detonator 52.16)
NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 Ultra 256MB (Detonator 52.16)
Memory:

1GB Corsair TwinX1024-3200LLPRO DDR400

Hard Drive: IBM 30GB 7200RPM P-ATA HDD
CDROM: NEC 52x CD-ROM
PowerSupply: Vantec Stealth 470W
Software Setup Windows XP Professional with SP1
DirectX 9.0b
Benchmarks Futuremark 3D Mark03 v.340
Quake III: Arena v.1.32 'four' Demo
Unreal Tournament 2003 Demo
Comanche 4
X2: The Threat Rolling Demo
SPECviewperf 7.1

Perhaps the most controversial 3D benchmark in service, 3D Mark03 has a sordid past. The most common complaint against 3D Mark03 is its pertinence to real world gaming. Given the scarcity of DirectX 9 applications, however, 3D Mark03 continues to prove useful as a predictor of performance.

The latest patch provided by Futuremark incorporates several official improvements, including a modification to the maximum size of a point sprite and detection of Hyper-Threading technology. But as the benchmarks show, it also has a profound effect on the performance of the GeForce FX family, purportedly by defeating the optimizations instated by NVIDIA's shader optimization compiler.

Futuremark 3DMark03 (v.340) Source: FutureMark

This new accurate diagnostic tool, designed for DirectX9.0, provides you with all the information you need to make informed hardware assessments. Havok Total real-time physics library from Havok - these routines are used to accurately model the movements of objects due to forces, etc. FMOD sound library from Firelight Technologies - these are used for the various sound effects and routines used in the tests. Graphics adapter analysis software from Powerstrip of Entech Taiwan - this is used to correctly determine the speeds of the graphics processing and video memory chips, plus supply additional hardware information. Higher 3DMark03 scores denote better performance.

3DMark03 Benchmark Results
Video Card 3DMarks Ranking
NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 Ultra 5358
NVIDIA GeForce FX 5950 Ultra 5556
ATI Radeon 9800 Pro 5751
Sapphire ATI Radeon 9800 XT 6466
Sapphire ATI Radeon 9800 XT - O/C (471/404) 7085

The result of the anti-optimization code is that ATI's RADEON 9800 XT dominates its nearest competition by more than 16 percent. Even the older RADEON 9800 Pro bests NVIDIA's GeForce FX 5950 Ultra. The fact of the matter is that the most popular games will be optimized for NVIDIA's architecture, while the others may indeed resemble the scores set forth here. Depending on your game library, this may or may not be an influential factor on your next graphics card purchase.

In other words, the 3DMark03 results don't translate into the real world very well, if at all.

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Contents of Article: Sapphire Radeon 9800XT
 Pg 1.  Sapphire Radeon 9800XT Videocard Review
 Pg 2.  The ATI RADEON 9800XT VPU
 Pg 3.  — Sapphire's Take on Pricing, and 3DMark03
 Pg 4.  Benchmarks: Quake III Arena
 Pg 5.  Benchmarks: UT2003
 Pg 6.  Benchmarks: X2: The Threat, Comanche 4
 Pg 7.  Conclusions and SPECviewPerf 7.1

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