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ATI Radeon 9800 XT: We take a look at ATI's flagship pixel pusher, and see where it fits in today's and tomorrow's market.
Date: February 4, 2004
Manufacturer:
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   Over the past few years ATI has made great strides in the video card market.  From the old Rage 128 series that had problems with drivers among other things, to today's high performing cards, ATI has moved into the lead that first 3DFX and then nVidia had in the 3D performance market.

    We have looked at ATI video cards over the last year, from the 'lowly' Radeon All-In-Wonder VE to the previous high end card, the ATI Radeon 9800 Pro.  For the most part we have been impressed with ATI's ability to meet the needs of the user, especially in the TV capture market that seems to be growing.  

    A couple of months ago ATI released a speed bump for the 9800 series, as well as for the 9600 series, called the XT.  The main component apart from the speed bump, which is pretty slight in the case of the 9800 and decent in the case of the 9600, is the coupon for a free version of Half Life II.  This game is like a automatic $50 discount on the card.

ATI Radeon 9800XT

    ATI cards have historically been released in a red box, with some logo in the background framed by a circle.  Have they changed this pattern, and what all comes with the card?  Lets take a look at some pictures to see what ATI has done with this card.

    So what do we get with the package?  Lets look at an itemized list:

  • The ATI 9800XT
  • Driver CD and Manual
  • Power cable and DVI-VGA connector
  • Composite and SVHS cables
  • SVHS-Composite cable

    The box has changed as to previous ATI cards.  Much like the newer AIW 9000Pro the box itself is smaller which means less wasted space on the shelf or in the packaging.  The back of the box is almost all about Half Life II, which is free with the coupon that should be included in the product that you buy, though wasn't in the package I received.

    It is nice to see that ATI provided both SVHS and composite video out cables, as well as the adaptor from SVHS to composite.  The DVI-VGA adaptor is also included which is considered the norm now for video card packages.  The manual included in the package is of the standard ATI quality which is pretty good and through.

    The card itself has departed from the standard heatsink design that ATI has used for most of the cards that have been previous to it.  While the Radeon 9800 Pro on the right side has a very small heatsink, the 9800XT uses a heatsink more reminiscent of the MSI nBox 5900Ultra.  Later on we will look at if the larger fan of the XT is louder than the other fans we have tested previously.

    The back plate of this card has the same look as almost any card on the market, with one DVI, one VGA and one SVHS port.  Its a pity that ATI didn't decide to put two DVI ports on this card as some other cards have done, but they are not alone in this.  The SVHS port also has the SVHS to composite converter, which allows for the most possibilities in connecting to the TV.  The optional DVI to component adaptor gives you the remaining TV connection you can use.

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