Crucial's 128MB Radeon 9800 Pro card performs almost exactly the same as the Connect3D 9800 Pro and the Gigabyte 9800 Pro. That doesn't surprise us as all three cards stick faithfully to the reference design and run the core at 375MHz and the memory at 675MHz. None of them offer an overclocking utility in the drivers, so you can see that it makes perfect sense that the test results are the same, with only a small percentage deviation.
The Connect3D and Crucial cards appear to have come out of the same factory, and we were very surprised that Crucial used Samsung memory, rather than its own Micron chips. This is in no way a criticism of Crucial, but we would have thought that corporate pride would ensure Micron memory was used on all the graphics cards.
Everything we said about the Connect3D 9800 Pro applies to the Crucial card, as the two cards are inseparable in most respects.
Both cards are supplied in very basic packages that must keep shipping costs to a minimum. Although these are full retail products, both of them could be considered to be OEM products as they assume that you are a PC enthusiast when you pay nearly Â£300 for a graphics card.
In fact both cards come with the same DVI adapter, S-Video to coaxial adapter and a pair of extension cables. The only difference is that Crucial supplies a copy of Cyberlink PowerDVD XP 4.0 in the package and charges about Â£10 less for its card. If you're after a basic Radeon 9800 Pro with very few trimmings, we'd suggest you go for the Crucial.
As there is nothing new to say about this card it gives us a chance to look ahead to the next version of the 9800 Pro chip (codenamed R360), which is due to be released any day now. We are bound by a Non Disclosure Agreement and can't release details of the new chip - or even give you its model name - but rest assured that we will post a review as soon as the NDA is lifted.
We can only speculate about the performance increase of R360 over Radeon 9800 Pro, but we have to assume that it will match or surpass GeForce FX5900 Ultra.
ATi has been incredibly successful updating Radeon 9700/9700 Pro into Radeon 9800/9800 Pro, and also adapting Radeon 9500 into Radeon 9600. While it is clear that ATi is reaping huge rewards from its superb original DirectX 9 design, right now it appears that nVidia has the performance edge with FX5900 Ultra, especially in OpenGL.
There are also rumours that the imminent Half Life 2 and AquaMark 3 benchmarks will favour ATi chips over nVidia, but whether these rumours are true will be discovered soon enough. Assuming anyone can drag themselves away from playing Half Life 2 long enough to run a benchmark.
Ultimately though, the Crucial Radeon 9800 Pro is a very basic package that offers stacks of performance for just under Â£300.
It might not be feature packed, but if youâ€™re looking for a basic Radeon 9800 Pro card for a good price, the Crucial is definitely worth considering.