Sapphire might not be as well known as other videocard companies, but they're probably one of the most experienced in the industry. They've been making OEM ATI cards for the better part of a decade (if you've ever bought an ATI OEM card, there's a good chance Sapphire made it), and not too long ago moved into the retail market with their own line of ATI based cards. They now offer a complete line of ATI graphics based cards, right from the XPert98 through to the flagship All-In-Wonder Radeon 9700 Pro.
Not only has Sapphire been busy making their own retail line of graphics cards, they've also quietly gone about making ATIs boxed retail cards for them as well. There's a good chance that that retail ATI 9700 Pro of yours was actually made by Sapphire. This should bring immediate confidence in Sapphire to anyone who has ever used a retail ATI card and noted the excellent image quality they are known for.
In this review I'll take a look at Sapphires mid-range solution, the Sapphire Radeon 9500 Atlantis Pro.
After reading James' review of Sapphire's 9700 Atlantis and taking note of coolness that is a black PCB, I really hoped that the Sapphire card which was enroute to me would be black as well. Unfortunately as you can see by the pictures on the right, this is not the case. Sapphire does sell a black PCB 9500 Pro, but it's only available to European customers, us North Americans are stuck with the ordinary red ones (mind you, "ordinary red" is a hell of a lot better than very ordinary green). Colour shouldn't be a very important factor when you choose to buy a videocard of course; what makes any card desirable is it's performance and features - which is what this review is all about.
When you buy the retail package you also get - along with the card - the necessary cables and adapters for doing TV-out and dual-monitor things, a molex power splitter adapter for connecting the card to your power supply, a CD with Sapphires custom "Redline" Radeon tweaking and overclocking utility, and a bundled version of PowerDVD XP 4.0. I was a bit disappointed at the lack of any bundled games, but otherwise this is a fairly standard bundle, one which you certainly can't complain about given that this is a mid-level card where low cost is a major selling point to many buyers.