Issues and ConclusionIssues
The biggest issue I had with the card was that Anti-Aliasing wouldn't work at high resolutions or high refresh rates when using Direct3D, making it impossible to fully benchmark the card. I'm hoping there's a fix for this since it's a pretty big problem - one that would probably invalidate a lot of 9500 Pro benchmark numbers.
However, having said that, running at 1600x1200 w/ 6xAA is not reasonable for the average user. Going by the benchmark numbers I've shown, most users shouldn't have a problem with the card running at 1024x768 or even 1280x1024 with 4x Anti-Aliasing and 8x or 16x Anisotropic.
Another issue I have is the clock locking. I'm not a fan of clock locking in any form, but I understand where ATI is coming from by doing it (understand that it was ATI who installed the BIOS clock lock, not Sapphire). However, like I said before, it's difficult to understand why Sapphire would include an overclocking utility, and not stop to think if they should go ahead an unlock the thing before they shipped it.
Ramsinks would have been nice too, but with the way the 9500 Pro reference layout is, it would require moving the power connector out of the way to get ramsinks on all the chips. I'm sure that's a lot easier said than done, but it'd still be a pretty good mod for Sapphire to do, especially considering the inclusion of an overclocking tool.
I have to say that, issues aside, I was very impressed with the performance of the card. I frankly didn't expect it to be able to perform as well as it did - on my relativly low end system, I honestly could not really tell the difference between the Sapphire 9500 Atlantis Pro and my ATI 9700 Pro. For a user on a budget who can't afford to spend the cash to get a top-of-the-line 9700 or 9700 Pro, this card is easily the next best choice.
4 out of 5