With the resurgence of ATI this past year and a half and the dominating position they now find themselves in, it's companies like Sapphire that have been around since the beginning and have built a name for themselves as top-tier ATI partners that are collecting the rewards. Last year Sapphire shipped over one million graphics products, all of them powered by ATI. This year, their estimates and targets exceed that and, hopefully for Sapphire, they can continue to deliver.
Once again a new Sapphire card sits on my desk ready to be installed, this time it's their Radeon 9600XT "Ultimate Edition".
So what makes an Ultimate Edition card so Ultimate? It's mostly the fanless Zalman heatpipe cooler Sapphire attaches in place of a more traditional heatsink/fan unit. Without any fans, the card of course becomes completely silent. Silence seems to be one of the targets for a lot of computer enthusiasts these days so it's clear that Sapphire hopes to capitalize on this new trend.
Also adding weight to the "Ultimate" name is the retail bundle Sapphire throws in the box. Along with the standard cables, adapters, and users manual package you get a copy of the aging PowerDVD XP 4.0, Sapphire's custom tweaking and overclocking utility Redline, and the DirectX9 game Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness. Accompanying that is a coupon for Half-Life2, which you can redeem when Valve releases the game later this year (hopefully).