Compared directly to the Sapphire 9800XT, the ABIT 9800XT comes up short in a few areas. First, while they both offer the Half-Life2 coupon in the box and the same bundle of cables and adapters, the Sapphire 9800XT also comes with the full version of Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness. Granted, Tomb Raider is such a bad game that having it bundled could be considered cruel and unusual punishment, but I have to give Sapphire points for offering something extra that ABIT isn't. ABIT makes up a little for that though by including the new version of PowerDVD 5 while Sapphire still bundles PowerDVD 4.
There's also the overclocking. If you read my Sapphire 9800XT review you would see that I reached 450MHz on the core there, while I only managed to get 439MHz on the ABIT 9800XT. Overclocking is more about being lucky than anything else so it could be just that I got lucky with the Sapphire card and unlucky with the ABIT, but the fact remains that the Sapphire 9800XT I have overclocks a bit better than the ABIT 9800XT I looked at in this review.
Speaking of overclocking, Sapphire also includes their custom tweaking and overclocking utility Redline in the bundle. ABIT offers no Radeon tweaking or overclocking software as of right now, but they have indicated that software similar to what they currently have for their nVidia cards is in the works.
ABIT also really impressed me with the attention they put into packaging the card. Everything is grouped and packaged inside three separate white boxes which neatly fit together inside the main box. While that may not be important to some people, little things like this really show that ABIT quality and attention to detail we've come to expect from them.
As I said at the conclusion of my Sapphire 9800XT review, I will say again that you shouldn't consider upgrading to a 9800XT from a 9800 or better as it doesn't seem to be really worth the performance gain (for test results comparing a 9800XT to a 9800NP you can check out my Sapphire 9800XT review here). If you're running a mid-range card like the 9600XT or Pro however, and would like to step-up to the high-end, then the 9800XT will easily impress you with its performance - particularly when using high anti-aliasing and resolution settings. Keep in mind though that we're getting closer and closer to the next generation of cards from both ATI and nVidia as every new day passes. As such it's likely that the amount of money you spend for a 9800XT today is going to be similar to what you would have to spend for one of those next-generation cards. If you can't wait until then, and you must have arguably the fastest graphics card around right now, then the 9800XT is as about as good as it gets. It's a toss up between ABIT and Sapphire though, so you'll have to make that decision on your own.
4.5 out of 5
- Fast as fast can be
- 256MB of high-speed DDR ram
- Only needs a single-slot
- Half-Life2 included
- The fact that it's ABIT
- Still disappointed with OverDrive
- No extra games bundled