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Sapphire Radeon 9800 Pro Atlantis Ultimate Edition

Posted: July 25, 2003
Written By: Dan "Tweak Monkey" Kennedy
Manufacturer: Sapphire


By now you should be familiar with ATI's Radeon 9800 Pro chip. Here's ATI's official feature set:

Cinematic Rendering
  • Up to 256MB of DDR memory provides increased performance when rendering high resolution textures, characters, and environments
  • 256-bit memory interface delivers the bandwidth for real-time 3D graphics and barrier-free performance
  • 8-pixel pipeline architecture doubles the rendering power of other graphics processors
Maximum 3D
  • SMARTSHADER™ 2.1 supports the latest Microsoft® DirectX® 9.0 feature set, enabling cinematic quality lighting and shadow effects.
  • SMOOTHVISION™ 2.1 delivers the sharpest, clearest textures without sacrificing frame rates.
  • 128-bit full floating point precision enables billions of color variations to render the same lighting and effects as Hollywood studios.
  • Featuring CATALYST™, the industry's most stable 3D acceleration software.
Generation Now Technology
  • Supports the latest Microsoft® DirectX® 9.0 and OpenGL® feature sets, ensuring long-term compatibility with the hottest gaming releases.
  • FULLSTREAM™ removes blocky artifacts from streaming Internet video to deliver smoother looking, higher quality online content.
  • VIDEOSHADER™ integrates features to provide unprecedented support for digital and high definition video.

Separating From the Pack

The Radeon 9800 Pro is not a huge technical step over the 9700 Pro, but offers a higher clock speed which gives a huge bump in performance. Core speed on the 9800 Pro is 380 MHz vs. 325 MHz from the 9700, while memory speed has been upped to 680 MHz DDR from 620 MHz. The R350 core is nearly the same as the R300 core other than these differences, with only minor changes in the feature set.

Click to enlarge.
The huge heat pipe cooling sink.

What makes Sapphire's 9800 Pro Atlantis Ultimate Edition different from other 9800 Pro cards? As mentioned earlier, it's all in the cooling. Sapphire's model offers an effective, silent, and unique Atlantis "heat pipe" (by Zalman) to cool the VPU. This device trades the basic active cooling solution (heatsink/fan) for a passive one. The Zalman cooler allows a liquid to boil and evaporate, pushing vapor through the tube to the rear side of the card. There the liquid cools and condenses, where the process then repeats.

On either side of the card, decorative RAM sinks can be found as well.

Click to enlarge.
Someone spent a lot of time making this card pretty.

From any angle, the Atlantis Ultimate Edition appears to be a technical marvel. The heat pipe design is nearly flawless except for the amount of space required to install it into a case. Its effectiveness has yet to be proven to us at this point...

Click to enlarge.

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