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Visiontek 9800 Pro Review - Hardware

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Some of you are NVIDIA fans, some of you are ATI fans, and some of you probably think that any argument between the two sides is stupid. That is true, to a degree; competition is a good thing, beyond individual preferences. Especially in the graphics card business, whether consumer or professional. There is little doubt that ATI took the former scene by storm late last year, releasing the Radeon 9700 Pro to the general masses. Here was a card that in just about all normal cases matched or bested anything NVIDIA had to offer, and in anti-alias and anisotropic filtering it dominated thoroughly. NVIDIA answered quite late with their GeForce FX 5800 Ultra, which has given iffy performance and quality scores, often losing to the older 9700 Pro. Most of you will probably never see the 5800 Ultra, as it is currently considered cancelled and only available to those who had previously pre-ordered it. The regular 5800, however, may make it to stores, but it's cost and caliber make it all but useless for comparison in this review. Hence the main focus here will be what the Radeon 9800 Pro can do for you, the mainstream gamer willing to go enthusiast and how it improves upon ATI's already proven 9700 Pro.

Since this review covers a Visiontek card, it is perhaps best to start talking about the company. Just about everyone remembers Visiontek as a reference and third party board maker for NVIDIA back in the day. Indeed, my previous card - an Xtasy 6964 (GeF3 Ti-500) - is a Visiontek. It has served me well and I was always satisfied with VTek's quality and their excellent warranty (although their fans were a bit on the weak side). But times change; my card was no longer holding up after nearly 18 months, and Visiontek was but a memory. Or was it? Good ole VTek went bankrupt, but they were kindly bought out and reinstated (and their warranties honored). But they went over to the 'Dark Side' - they only build ATI cards, now. This is good news to many people. I hit up their pre-order program (which was simultaneous to ATI's own) and received my card on April 4th. I've spent a week putting it through the motions to offer a short but hopefully useful review. You may have read other Radeon 9800 Pro reviews (many well before the cards came out), so what's new with mine? Nothing, really...except I have an honest-to-good retail version and one of the first VTek 9800 reviews.

The Goods

Here's the box. Looks nice, eh? Reminds me of their old designs quite a bit. It was quickly unwrapped and thrown aside.

The Shirt

They also gave me a nice "one size fits all" (XL) shirt ... (continued next page)