Overclocking. The fun stuff. Nothing says overclocking like the feeling you get from torturing a card you never paid for.
I know how stressful suspense is, so I'll tell you right of that my final clocks were 415/330 core/mem. There, now relax while you read the rest.
After noticing the 3.3ns memory Sapphire was using on the 9800, I was a little less than enthusiastic about the cards overclocking potential. 3.3ns equals 300Mhz theoretical maximum speed, which doesn't leave much headroom for cheapskates looking for a cheap 9800 Pro. However, overclocking is called overclocking for a reason, it's not about stopping when you reach design limits. No indeed.
I'll also add that there are apparently two
(or three, even) versions of the Sapphire 9800 on the market. One with Infineon ram, and the other (the one I have) with Samsung ram. If you are planning on overclocking the card, then you should really try and get the one that has the Samsung ram. People are having much better luck overclocking with the Samsung ram than they are with the Infineon ram. Just ask your retailer for specifics, they should be able to help.
Having nothing to loose other than a free 9800, I tried 380/340 - Pro speed - right out of the gate. Ok, serious artifacts in every game but no crashing outright. Good potential. Lower memory timings a bit. 335MHz still artifacts, but not as bad. Lowering a bit more to 330MHz is clean. Too clean, so I up the core to 390MHz. Nothing... 400... 410... wow, impressive! 420... 430... time to hack the registry so R3DTweak can overclock higher... 440! 105Mhz over stock! 450!
. Oh, but wait. A bunch of little white dots floating around in 3DMark03 GT4 (the only time you'll see it mentioned in this review, I promise). Now knowing what to look for with regard to artifacts, I start lowering the core until they go away. At around 430 the dots are hardly noticable, only at the edges of some objects and a littel in the PS 2.0 shaded water. At 420Mhz the dot artifacts are all but gone, though a keen eye can pick them out when you know what to look for. 415MHz on the core and perfectly clean. 90MHz over stock clocks, using the stock cooler, with no artifacts. Not bad at all!
The overclocking results on the core were so impressive I've decided to create a new religion based on them. Congregation assembly in my basement every Friday and Saturday. BYOB.
Now I know what some of you are probably saying. The word you are echoing probably begins with an "F" (not that
word), ends with an "H" and has "LAS" in the middle. Well, sorry, but this is not that kind of review. I'm not going to suggest to some people something that could possibly destroy the card which they've saved their hard earned money to buy. If they want to take that chance then the needed information is not hard to find, you're just not going to find it here.