Welcome back! A little later than expected we’ve posted our first impression
of the Radeon 9800 Pro, and it certainly did not disappoint. We did some experimenting with the Radeon 9800 Pro, which we always do to determine the absolute maximum, or minimum, clockspeed, timing, stable frequency etc. a video card is able to run at. By using PowerStrip
we coached the 9800 and 9700 Pro through a whole set of different frequencies. What we found is interesting; if we clock a Radeon 9700 Pro up to the same clockspeed as the 9800 pro is running at, 380MHz core and 337MHz memory, we get about the same results if we don’t use AA or AF. If we however turn on AA and AF the performance gap widens to a maximum of 25%; that’s impressive to say the least.
Fig 1. The Direct3D properties tab in the Radeon 9800 Pro drivers.
However there’s more; the net results of increasing just the frequency of the memory and keeping the core at a fixed frequency yielded better performance with the Radeon 9800 Pro than with the 9700 Pro. This indicates that the improvements ATI has made to the data compression to/from the memory and the AA/AF algorithms have got some reserves built in, so once ATI decides to go with DDR-II or bump up the clockspeed of the current DDR memory to for example 400MHz there’s enough headroom left to give the Radeon 9800 Pro another boost in performance.
Fig 2. The maximum clockspeed our Radeon 9800 Pro was able to run at, courtesy of PowerStrip.
The other thing that surprised us was the fact that our sample had quite some headroom left in terms of clockspeed; we could run the core up to 480MHz and the memory up to 400MHz with some ramsinks on the memory chips and a heavy duty heatsink on the core. We weren’t able to finish any of the 3D benchmarks without severe image corruption, and sometimes they wouldn’t finish at all, but it does indicate that the R350 core has some headroom left. So even if NV35 turns out to be all that the GeForce FX was supposed to be, ATI could just slap on some faster memory, increase the clockspeed of the core and the memory and they instantly get a nice boost in performance.