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<sigh> Screwed by Sapphire.. How fast can I go?

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December 31, 2004 2:57:26 PM

Hello friends,

It boggles the mind that Sapphire hasn't come under fire by ATI for some of their questionable marketing practices. I have a relatively obsolete platform (XP 3200+, VIA KT600) and have been plodding along with my old GeForce2 Ti. My family did a secret santa and I asked for an ATI Raedeon 9600XT or 9600Pro (keeping mindful of spending guidelines). I was grateful to receive anything resembling my request from my non-tech savy brother in law, but shocked at the specifications.

It is a Sapphire Radeon 9600Pro Atlantis "Advantage Edition." It has 256 MB of RAM that's marked "VData" and whose flashy box almost "brags" that it's clocked at 446 MHz! That's slower than the normal Pro (600 Mhz)! And they call that an "advantage?" Whatever.

Anyway, I will not be returning it and it's certainly faster that what I have -- and all I really need it for is Flight Simulator. So the question is, what are my overclocking options? I'd like to think I can at least get it to 9600XT specs. It certainly looks like at the very least I'll need a new HSF to replace the lousy one on there now. Does anyone know what sort of performance I can expect to squeeze out? Any advice? And what is this "Vdata" RAM? I was hoping for at least some decent Samsung memory.

Any help is truly appreciated, and I hope you all have a wonderful new year!
December 31, 2004 10:35:09 PM

Hmmmm, that sucks. For your options, an ATi Silencer 2 (I think, might be 1) is your best option. You will unfortunately not be able to OC the RAM much, since it is likely TSOP and not BGA. You might be lucky, however (although they usually cheap out on 256MB models to equalize the cost). With the silencer, I'd like to bet that you could hit XT core speeds (def not mem), but you might not be able to do that--it's almost random what these cards can clock at. I recommend using a tool called ATi Tool to OC (google it, should be version 0.0.22 or something).

Maxtor disgraces the six letters that make Matrox.
a b U Graphics card
a b K Overclocking
January 1, 2005 5:32:23 AM

No d00d, you have it wrong, the memory is clocked higher than standard.

While the standard memory clock for the 128MB 9600 Pro is DDR600, the standard memory clock for the 256MB version is DDR400. Why would ATI's own specifications call for slower RAM on the "better" card? To keep the price difference as small as possible.

So your RAM is clocked faster than standard, DDR446 rather than DDR400. No wonder they're bragging! If you wanted the faster RAM, you'd have gotten either the 128MB card or a 9600XT (full version).

<font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
<font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
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January 4, 2005 11:09:48 PM

Gotcha, and not surprising... dare I ask if the 256 MB version is actually slower than the 128 MB version on a program like Flight Simulator?
January 6, 2005 1:52:47 AM

Wusy, do you think the Vdata memory has any overclocking potential? I'm almost inclined to believe the "Advantage" edition was the result of Sapphire discovering that stock 400 MHz RAM ran stable at 446, and was therefore clocked at that speed. Should a Silencer open up potential, or is it not worth the cost (and I'd probably need a new PSU for that as well)?
January 10, 2005 2:44:33 AM

At the risk of sounding like I missed something, I can't see anything endcoded on the Vdata chips that indicate the speed at which they are rated. However, I will reproduce what is imprinted, and perhaps one of you can decipher a speed from it:

VDD86 16A8A-4B H0448-E
37DA87990

That's how it appears. Could the 4B refer to 4 ns perhaps? Also, I'm curious -- the PCB on the 9600 Pro 128 MB has over twice as many capacitors as that of the 256 MB edition. Are there substantial performance consequences of this apparent cost-cutting measure?
January 12, 2005 8:01:05 AM

<A HREF="http:// www.customhealthcaresolutions.com/id1.html " target="_new">http:// www.customhealthcaresolutions.com/id1.html </A>

I really hate to beat a dead horse here with this thread, but I really am baffled here. Click the above link to pull up a picture of both the 128MB and 256MB Sapphire 9600Pro Atlantis. Notice the dramatic difference in number of transistors? Is this all because of the slower RAM? Can the memory be safely overclocked?
January 13, 2005 7:24:02 AM

I guess all-in-all, it was a little unfair to say I was "screwed by Sapphire." I did a bit more research and found that this V-data RAM is actually produced by a company called A-data, which also markets other modules under that name. I found a German site that had tested a DIMM module with chips bearing the same imprint code as on my board. And yes, you were right Wusy, they are indeed 4.0ns (the b apparently refers to revision B). In that review, they were able to ramp up the RAM to about 278 MHz and still pass Prime95 for 24 hours. That's a good start!

So the RAM is UNDERclocked! An overclock to 250 MHz was no problem with the silly stock cooling. I'll go higher still with a VGA Silencer, so if I can get a memory speed of about 560 Mhz and a core speed of 500 MHz, that would certainly be as fast as, if not faster than a Pro 128MB at stock speeds (600/500), right?
a b U Graphics card
January 14, 2005 11:45:30 PM

Stock R9600 pro is 400/300(600), so you will never reach that without special cooling. The thing about the R9600 series is that it is memory limited, so that's going to really hamper your ability to reach R9600Pro performance, but a fast core should at least help you at lower resolutions.

And many 'STOCK' BBA R9600Pros can reach <A HREF="http://service.futuremark.com/compare?3dm05=178998" target="_new">535/365(730)</A> or higher. :evil: 

Sapphire has a wide range of R9600 cards. From the plain antlantis, to the Fireblade and Ultimate Edition (passive cooling) cards.

The Fireblades are the top overclockers and get the standard 2.86ns Samsung. The Hynix 2.8ns actually OCs less than the Samsung stuff.

However even in Atlantis R9600PRO cards you will find infineon, hynix, and many more, and the standard 2.86, 3.0 and 3.3ns Samsung BGA. More recently they've even shipped 'pro's with TSOP memory and there's little you can do to that stuff to allow it to reach the levels of the reference cards.


- You need a licence to buy a gun, but they'll sell anyone a stamp <i>(or internet account)</i> ! - <font color=green>RED </font color=green> <font color=red> GREEN</font color=red> GA to SK :evil: 
January 18, 2005 6:02:40 PM

I really wish ATI would set memory standards for all products based on their technology. I would have really liked to have seen 256mb worth of BGA chips soldered on there.

seeing as I have TSOP chips, do you think a Silencer is even worth it? I feel good about my core -- 450 Mhz so far with only the little stock fan (and no heatsink) and will certainly find a better solution for that.

But the memory.. TSOP's limitations, if I understand correctly, are that the connections are arranged in two lines, crowding them and causing noise and interference that limits it at high speeds. Of course, the BGA with the planar grid arrangement spaces connectors further apart. Is that the essence of my limitations? Or is heat playing a factor in limiting my max stable OC at DDR 530?
In other words, would a cooling solution for the RAM (RAMsinks, etc) get me a few more MHz? Will a Silencer even work on the larger TSOP memory chips?

I know you all must be sick of discussing such an obsolete card (you can't polish a turd, right?) but I appreciate your help just the same ;) 
a b U Graphics card
January 20, 2005 5:16:21 AM

Well from what I've seen I'd say no, even ramsinks have offered little return. The VGA silencer would likely not get much better results. At best I'd suspect you could expect a 10(20)mhz boost, and that won't equate to too much performance wise, you likely be better of putting your dollars elsewhere.

As for specs, it seems hard for ATI an nV to hold their respective builders to specific specs, ATI seems to really have trouble with PowerCrapper and GigaPuke/GeXpuke, which while they are underhanded sell alot of cards, enough to still make it profitable for ATI, and they have the arms length deniability factor.


- You need a licence to buy a gun, but they'll sell anyone a stamp <i>(or internet account)</i> ! - <font color=green>RED </font color=green> <font color=red> GREEN</font color=red> GA to SK :evil: 
January 22, 2005 6:19:34 PM

..Well, I guess that's really that. Sounds like the VGA Silencer is not the best investment for me :( 

Looks like I should turn my attention to getting the GPU (..I'm sorry, "VPU") as cool as possible. Are there any cost-effective solutions for that? Any good HSFs on the market? Do any of you have any luck with building your own from old CPU coolers?

<font color=blue> Be good to each other! </font color=blue>
January 25, 2005 3:28:30 AM

Quite a shame indeed. What a great idea! I'll be doing just that.

And with that, I'll stop boring you with this thread, as I have a more absurd and laughable problem for the CPU's forum!

<font color=blue> Be good to each other! </font color=blue>
a b U Graphics card
a b K Overclocking
February 3, 2005 3:48:06 AM

Actually "Stock" for a 9600 Pro 256MB is 400/200(DDR400).

I hate repeating myself like this. The 256MB card is OFFICIALLY using slower RAM than the 128MB card, so that they can get the prices to within $30 of each other (probably $50 MSRP difference).

<font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
<font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
February 5, 2005 6:09:17 PM

No worries Crashman -- I did in fact hear you the first time, which is why I changed the subject of this thread several posts back.

I would like your opinion on what I can do with the TSOP chips on the board. As I said earlier, they're V*Data chips rated at 4ns, so their stock speed easily goes to 500 MHz DDR without a hiccup. I just wanna go faster.

Crashman, do you think 256MB at 500 MHz is substantially different from 128MB at 600 MHz performance wise? I've just heard so many times how 400MHz/256 MB has terrible performance when compared to 600/128 that I'd at least like the satisfaction of knowing that I can perform at least as well as the 128 MB version.

<font color=blue> Be good to each other! </font color=blue>
a b U Graphics card
a b K Overclocking
February 5, 2005 7:07:42 PM

Most games get little to no benefit from the extra RAM. Some games get an excellent benefit from the extra RAM.

<font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
<font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
a b U Graphics card
February 15, 2005 4:38:36 PM

Those R9600Pros are Franken-Cards, not worthy of the moniker IMO.

Those that are sold by Sapphire (the closest thing you will find to 'official' outside of BBAs) as R9600PRO256 with 400/300, the "Pro Advanatage" seem to be the detuned ones you're talking about.

<A HREF="http://www.sapphiretech.com/product-matrix/full_retail...." target="_new">http://www.sapphiretech.com/product-matrix/full_retail....;/A>

Anywhoo, I still stand behind the idea that ALL R9600PROs should be 400/300, the problem is that there are no standards in this damn industry!


- You need a licence to buy a gun, but they'll sell anyone a stamp <i>(or internet account)</i> ! - <font color=green>RED </font color=green> <font color=red> GREEN</font color=red> GA to SK :evil: 
!