Sapphire Radeon9500 in the test: A first look at the new model

Sapphire Radeon9500 in the test: A first look at the new model


Not everyone can or wants to spend 400-500 € every year on a new graphics card of the top performance class, despite all the admiration for the achievements of the high-end accelerators.

This is exactly the reason why cards like the Sapphire Radeon9500 for around 200 € will follow shortly after the top model's media release : We want to offer something for every budget.

Today we want to take a quick look at whether half price means half performance. The detailed test will follow a little later.

Card and Specs

From the outside, the Sapphire, like our card from Connect3D , is presented in deep ATi red and does not look quite unrelated to this. However, the cooler is much more subtle in appearance, even if not in terms of subjective volume. The frequency alone is significantly higher with the Sapphire propeller, so that it is much more likely to be swallowed by a surrounding housing and the distance between the computer-under-the-table and the human ear, which is usually positioned far above the desk surface. However, the fan is not really annoying in the concerto grosso of the other fans of a normal PC.

Sapphire Radeon9500 front side
Sapphire Radeon9500 back side

Apart from the cooler, only minor differences between the printed circuit boards (PCBs) are noticeable. So are equipped with 64MBSapphire Radeon 9500 Atlantis/64 only populates the two 'upper' memory silk screens, but by far most of the components are in the same place, as is the floppy connector required for the current PCB design.

Revision number II
revision number

The board revision, now 3.0, is definitely more advanced, than that of the early Radeon9700 series, which should explain minimal differences in the positioning of individual SMD components.

How We will see in the specifications in a moment that the Radeon9500 seems to be a halved Radeon9700pro in almost every design aspect, which is why we were actually very surprised, also here on the To be dependent on the floppy connector, which Sapphire provided. We suspect that the entire board design seems to be designed to only draw the power consumption from the AGP port to the absolutely necessary minimum (i.e. to load the graphics BIOS), even if the lower clocked one Radeon9500 could no longer meet the AGP specification, that would mean a power consumption of significantly more than 75W for the Radeon9700pro, which sounds very, very unrealistic.

Key data of the Sapphire Radeon 9500 Atlantis/64
Radeon9700pro Radeon9500/64 GeForce4 Ti4200/64 Number of transistors ~ 107Mio ~ 70-80Mio * ~ 63Mio Chip clock 325MHz 275MHz 250MHz Rendering pipelines 8 4 4 TMU per pipeline 1 1 2 Filling rate (billion pixels/s 2.6 GPix/s 1.1 GPix/s 1.2GPix/s fill rate (billion texels/s) 2.6 GTex/s 1.1 GTex/s2.4 GTex/s fill rate (billion AA samples/s) 15.6 GSamp/s 6.6 GSamp/s 4.8 GSamp/s max.textures per pass 8 8 4 max.texture accesses per pass 16 16 4 Memory clock 310MHz 270MHz 256MHz RAM bus width 256Bit DDR 128Bit DDR 128Bit DDR RAM bandwidth (billion bytes/s) 19.84GB/s 8.64GB/s 8.19GB/s Vertex shader/TnL units 4 4 2

* estimated size

In this context, we want to briefly summarize the most important differences of the new series based on the R300 core, as it has become a bit confusing.

Differences between the R300 Radeons
R9700pro R9700 R9500pro R9500 Chip clock 325 275 275 275 Memory clock 310 270 270 270 Memory bus 256Bit DDR 25 6Bit DDR 128Bit 128Bit Renderpipelines 8 8 8 4

It is not difficult to see the budget orientation of this still fully DirectX-9 compatible card. In the other specifications nothing has changed compared to its big sister, the 2.0 shaders are still fully included, as well as gamma-correct anti-aliasing, performance-optimized anisotropic filtering, video shaders and dual monitor capability.

At this point we would like to point out again that, in our opinion, this card is not the final version, there are simply too many similarities with the significantly more expensive Radeon9700pro for a budget product, so all the following performance information is available to be enjoyed with a little caution.

On the next page: FirstBenchmarks