Like the majority of my graphics card reviews so far, I have once again been given the opportunity to check out a Sapphire branded ATI powered Radeon. This time, I'll be looking at Sapphire's Radeon 9800 Atlantis graphics card powered by ATI's newest R350 graphics core.
The Radeon 9800 has the same feature set and almost the same specifications as the Radeon 9800 Pro, and differs only in slower core and memory speeds. By slowing the core and memory speeds, ATI and Sapphire are able to build the cards that much cheaper, which in turn lets them pass the savings on to consumers who might be looking for a solid performer, but not necessarily the high cost that is usually associated with top-end cards.
In the past, Sapphire has shown a willingness to innovate and differentiate themselves from the rest of the crowd. That's unfortunately not the case with the 9800 Atlantis however as the card is as reference as can be, right down to the now standard ATI red PCB and reference R350 heatsink fan assembly. There is no signature Sapphire black circuit board or sharp looking orb-style heatsink here. I understand the desire to keep costs down, but in a market becoming more and more crowded with ATI reference designs every day, it would be cool if Sapphire took their customization's to their complete lineup of graphics cards.
Fortunately, differently colored PCBs and cool looking heatsinks don't affect the way we play games on the thing, and that's all that's really important, so let's get to it.