The Radeon 9800 from Connect3D is another ATi reference design, so the key to this graphics card is the Radeon 9800 chip itself.
As the name suggests, the Radeon 9800 is a refinement of the Radeon 9700, which was one of the first family of DirectX 9 chips that ATi launched in July 2002. That was five months before Microsoft even released DirectX 9, so in graphics terms this chip is very long in the tooth as it is effectively 16 months old.
Despite its age, the original design has held up well and in our tests the Radeon 9800 almost manages to keep pace with the much younger and much more expensive GeForce FX5900.
If you compare the results for the Connect3D Radeon 9800 and our Editors Choice FX5900 you'll see that the two cards have very similar results in every test, with the notable exception of Serious Sam 2. In this OpenGL test the Radeon 9800 scored impressive frame rates, however the FX5900 ran twice as fast. As Gun Metal is written in the nVidia Cg programming language we wouldn't have been surprised if the nVidia chip had had an edge in this test, but once again the Radeon 9800 and FX5900 scored almost identical results.
This is impressive performance from the Radeon 9800, and is a testament to its design, which still uses a 0.15 micron fabrication process. The eight pixel pipelines and 256bit memory controller work very effectively, and the result is a surprisingly small graphics card that is very similar in size to an older card such as a Ti4200.
The Connect3D Radeon 9800 has a Molex power connector just like youâ€™d find on an optical or hard disk drive. This is a change from the floppy drive connector that was used on Radeon 9700, but it performs exactly the same job.
The PC won't start up unless the extra power connector is plugged in. Instead the motherboard speaker beeps and the card BIOS displays a warning message on your monitor.
Connect3D has used a relatively small fan on the chip heatsink, which itself is very small and basic compared to most of the other cards in this group. We are aware that many manufacturers use the heatsink fan as a cosmetic marketing tool to differentiate their products, but not in this case. The BGA Samsung memory chips on both sides of the card have no heatsinks, but as the memory is rated at 3.3ns it has a maximum rated speed of 300MHz DDR, so there is little scope for overclocking anyway.
There is very little in the package besides the card itself, so you get an S-Video to coaxial adapter, a 1.5metre coaxial extension cable, and a 1.5metre S-Video extension cable. There is no software apart from drivers, but this is an incredible package if you're after the maximum amount of gaming power for your money and don't need any extras.
Itâ€™s third time lucky for Connect3D with this Radeon 9800 card providing a mixture of great performance and stunning value. It may lack some features, but if you want to experience the latest 3D games without breaking the bank look no further.