The Gigabyte Maya II R9500 Pro
vs.
The Sapphire Radeon 9500 Atlantis Pro
Premium Performance, Mainstream Price

By - Tom Laverriere
& Marco Chiappetta
February 3, 2003

   

It's game 7 of the World Series, bottom of the 9th and the winning run is standing just 90 feet away.  Who do you want in the batters box?  You want the best hitter in the league standing in the batters box ready to rip the cover off the ball.  In video cards these days, that equates to "Built by ATI" or "Powered by ATI" Radeon 9700 Pro boards.  No other consumer video card on the market right now can move pixels like a  Radeon 9700 Pro.  Of course his little brother isn't too shabby either.  We wouldn't mind him standing in at the plate as well.  Why you ask?  Well because the 9500 Pro can deliver almost as much pixel crunching power as it's bigger brother the 9700 Pro, but at a much lower price point.  As PC enthusiasts. its always nice to have the biggest, best hardware in the land sitting cozy inside your case.  However, for most of us, money doesn't grow on trees.  The two "Powered by ATI" R9500 Pro cards we have for you today, are targeted to lure the budget-minded buyer into their respective corners.  Can the R9500 Pro take over a spot that is held tightly by its main competitor, the Nvidia GeForce 4 Ti4200?  Today we have two boards vying for that honor, the Gigabyte Maya II R9500 Pro and the Sapphire R9500 Atlantis Pro.  Let's take a look at how they performed on the test bench...

 

Specifications & Features of the Radeon 9500 Pro VPU
Mainstream DX9 Part...

The Gigabyte Maya II R9500 Pro
     

 
The Sapphire Radeon 9500 Atlantis Pro
     

CLICK ANY IMAGE FOR AN ENLARGED VIEW

GRAPHICS TECHNOLOGY

R300 Visual Processing Unit (VPU)

MEMORY CONFIGURATION

  • 128MB or 64MB of double data rate SDRAM

3D GRAPHICS FEATURES

  • Eight/four parallel rendering pipelines process up to 2.6 billion pixels per second
  • Four parallel geometry engines process up to 325 million transformed and lit polygons per second
  • High precision 10-bit per channel framebuffer support
  • 256-bit/128-bit DDR memory interface
  • AGP 8X support

-SMARTSHADER 2.0

  • Full support for Microsoft DirectX 9.0 programmable pixel and vertex shaders in hardware
  • 2.0 Pixel Shaders support up to 16 textures per rendering pass
  • 2.0 Vertex Shaders support vertex programs up to 1024 instructions with flow control
  • New 128-bit per pixel floating point color formats
  • Multiple Render Target (MRT) support
  • Shadow volume rendering acceleration
  • Complete feature set also supported in OpenGL via extensions

-SMOOTHVISION 2.0

  • State-of-the-art full-scene anti-aliasing
  • New technology processes up to 15.6 billion anti-aliased samples per second for unprecedented performance
  • Supports 2x, 4x, and 6x modes with programmable sample patterns
  • Advanced anisotropic filtering
  • Supports up to 16 bilinear samples (in performance mode) or trilinear samples (in quality mode) per pixel
  • 2x/4x/6x full scene anti-aliasing modes
  • Adaptive algorithm with programmable sample patterns
  • 2x/4x/8x/16x anisotropic filtering modes
  • Adaptive algorithm with bilinear (performance) and trilinear (quality) options
  • Bandwidth-saving algorithm enables this feature with minimal performance cost

-HYPERZ III

  • Hierarchical Z-Buffer and Early Z Test reduce overdraw by detecting and discarding hidden pixels
  • Lossless Z-Buffer Compression and Fast Z-Buffer Clear reduce memory bandwidth consumption by over 50%
  • Fast Z-Buffer Clear

-TRUFORM 2.0

  • 2nd generation N-patch higher order surface support
  • Discrete and continuous tessellation levels per polygon for dynamic LOD
  • DirectX 9.0 displacement mapping
VIDEO FEATURES

-VIDEOSHADER

  • Seamless integration of programmable pixel shaders with video data
  • High quality, hardware accelerated de-blocking of internet streaming video
  • Noise removal filter for captured video
  • Integrated MPEG-2 decode
  • Hardware accelerated iDCT, motion compensation, and color space conversion
  • Top quality DVD and all-format DTV/HDTV decode with low CPU overhead
  • Back-end scaler delivers top quality playback
  • Upscaling and downscaling with 4-tap horizontal and vertical filtering
  • Filtered display of images up to 1920 pixels wide
  • Unique per-pixel adaptive de-interlacing feature combines the best elements of the bob and add-field (weave) techniques

FULLSTREAM video de-blocking technology

  • Noise removal filtering for captured video
  • MPEG-2 decoding with motion compensation, iDCT and color space conversion
  • All-format DTV/HDTV decoding
  • YPrPb component output
  • Adaptive de-interlacing and frame rate conversion
  • Dual integrated display controllers
  • Dual integrated 10-bit per channel 400MHz DACs
  • Integrated 165 MHz TMDS transmitter (DVI and HDCP compliant)
  • Integrated TV Output support up to 1024x768 resolution
  • Optimized for Pentium 4 SSE2 and AMD Athlon 3Dnow!
  • PC 2002 compliant

DISPLAY FEATURES

  • Dual integrated display controllers
  • Drive two displays simultaneously with independent resolutions and refresh rates
  • HYDRAVISION software provides complete control over multi-display configurations with a user-friendly interface
  • Dual integrated 10-bit per channel palette DACs operating at up to 400MHz
  • Integrated 165MHz TMDS transmitter supports resolutions up to QXGA (2048x1536) and complies with DVI and HDCP specifications
  • Integrated TV-Out support up to 1024x768 resolution
  • YPrPb output for direct drive of HDTV monitors

DISPLAY SUPPORT

  • 15-pin VGA connector for analog CRT
  • S-video or composite connector for TV/VCR
  • DVI-I connector for digital CRT or flat panel
  • Independent resolutions and refresh rates for any two connected displays

GENERAL FEATURES

  • Comprehensive 2x, 4x, and 8x AGP support
  • High performance quad-channel DDR memory interface supports 64/128/256MB configurations
  • Fully compliant with PC 2002 requirements
  • Optimized for Pentium 4 SSE2 and AMD Athlon 3Dnow! processor instructions
  • Supports optional THEATER 200 companion chip for NTSC/PAL/SECAM video capture
  • Highly optimized 128-bit 2D engine with support for new Windows XP GDI extensions

The Bundles:

 

GIGABYTE
 

 

 

SAPPHIRE
 

 

The Gigabyte Maya II R9500 Pro shipped with an impressive bundle to say the least.  In addition to the driver CD, the card shipped with full versions of Serious Sam, Cyberlink PowerDVD XP, and Rune.  It also shipped with "lite" versions of Oni and 4X4 Evo.  Although these aren't the most popular games available right now, it's always good to get a few extra goodies, besides the card and some drivers.  Additionally, Gigabyte threw in a DVI-to-15 pin adapter, a composite video cable, an S-Video cable and a Molex power cable splitter.

The Sapphire's bundle was a little more spartan.  The Sapphire did not ship with any games, but did come with the full version of Cyberlink PowerDVD XP, which is arguably the best DVD playback software on the market today.  Also included was the driver CD.  Unlike Gigabyte, Sapphire failed to throw in the DVI-to-15 pin adapter, but did have the composite video cable, the S-Video cable and a Molex power cable splitter.  Although we can't complain about Sapphire's bundle it would have been nice to get a game thrown into the mix.  Since both cards come in around the same price point it's hard not to side with Gigabyte because of its generous bundle and the fact that most people buying this card will be doing so with gaming in mind.

The Cards...