Since publishing our Unreal Tournament 2003 performance article, weíve received numerous requests for more RADEON 9800 benchmarks, it turns out quite a few of you are currently debating between the RADEON 9700 PRO, RADEON 9800 and RADEON 9800 PRO! Therefore, we decided to include this trio of cards, as well as the RADEON 9700 and the PRO variants of the RADEON 9500 and RADEON 9600 in one handy comparison article. This should give you a very clear picture of where ATIís latest mainstream and enthusiast cards stack up in comparison to each other.
Like our previous article, weíll be using a RADEON 9800 PRO that has been clocked to the RADEON 9800ís stock levels of 325MHz core and 290MHz memory to simulate the RADEON 9800ís performance, and 275MHz core/270MHz memory for the RADEON 9700.
The RADEON 9800ís 325MHz core clock frequency matches the specs of the RADEON 9700 PRO, but with its 290MHz memory (580MHz effective), itís slightly outshined by the 9700 PRO in peak memory bandwidth. Interestingly enough, some early 9800 cards shipped with the same 2.8ns memory modules present on the more expensive RADEON 9800 PRO. This is important for overclocking, as 2.8ns modules are rated for operation at higher clock speeds than modules of 3.0ns or more. Those end users who were lucky enough to get a 2.8ns card essentially got a RADEON 9800 PRO at the price level of a RADEON 9800!
Cards have also shipped with 3.0ns and 3.3ns memory, so itís essentially luck of the draw as far as what youíll get.
Pricing and production, RADEON 9800SE
Besides the traditional players, Sapphire, Gigabyte, Powercolor and others, ATI has also dropped its hat into RADEON 9800. Previously ATI stuck to production of PRO cards only, leaving non-PRO production to its board partners under the ďPowered by ATIĒ brand. On ATIís website you can purchase the RADEON 9800 128MB for $299 (MSRP), while Price Watch listings for third party cards start for under $250. This makes the RADEON 9800 one of the best values around in the 3D market, and arguably the best value among cards over $200.
Just recently ATI has quietly introduced another RADEON 9800 variant to its lineup, the RADEON 9800SE. The 9800SE differs from the rest of the 9800 family in that half of its rendering pipelines are disabled, bringing the total to four pixel pipelines, just like the RADEON 9600/9600 PRO. As we saw with the RADEON 9500 PRO versus 9600 PRO, this cuts fill rate drastically, but it retains the 9800ís 256-bit memory interface.
These cards can already be found online at some of the larger retailers (as Powered by ATI cards), but with the current asking price of $250 or more, youíre better off with a true RADEON 9800 card.