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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [10.02.03]
Manufactured by: PowerColor 

Est. Street Price: ~$450

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Okay, so we're a day late

Had this review been published 1 day prior, I would be starting off this article touting this as PowerColor's version of ATI's fastest video card available. With the recent announcement of the 9800XT, that is no longer the case. However the XT offers not much more beyond a minor clock speed and memory speed increase, and a beefy heatsink. Currently the 9800XT is only available from ATI, but 3rd party vendors are sure to carry it, most likely replacing the 9800 Pro 256. So while the card we're about to review here is not the fastest ATI anymore, it's not behind by much. And it's still damn fast, as you're about to see.

PowerColor's Baby

So let's have a look at PowerColor's baby. I have confirmed that they will be offering the 9800XT, although there is no confirmed release date. For now their pride and joy is this card, the 9800 Pro 256:

I'm sure it's no mistake that PowerColor's box looks almost identical to ATI's box. As a matter of fact, most 3rd party companies in Taiwan have used ATI's box to base their own design upon. ATI has confirmed that they don't mind one bit.

The card itself is absolutely standard reference faire. There is nothing to distinguish PowerColor's 9800 Pro 256 from any other one based on reference design. Some people might want something a bit more exciting, but this gets the job done perfectly well. You'll note that ATI switched to a 4 pin molex connector from the small 4 pin floppy connector used on the 9700 series cards. Good move; we are sure to have more spare 4 pins than floppy connectors!

The PCI bracket is also standard reference design. You get a VGA connector, and a DVI connector for your secondary monitor or LCD. A converter is of course included for use with two VGA monitors. Included along with an S-Video cable is a component cable and S-Video > Component converter to go with it.

You probably noticed the sticker on the front of the box excitedly proclaiming the inclusion of "7 GAMES INSIDE". What you get are 2 full games (Summoner and Comanche 4), and 5 demos (Blackhawk Down, Ballistics, Ghost Recon, Serious Sam: SE, and Viet Cong). You also get a full version of the outdated-but-not-obsolete WinDVD 4. I guess you could say demos are better than nothing, but it's not like you can't just download them. Also, I appreciate the fact that PowerColor includes 2 free games, but I wish they had chosen better ones.

Valid until October 15th, PowerColor is holding a promotion where you can receive a free full version of Tomb Raider 6. The catch is that you have to send them your old video card (they say it can be in any brand or condition) and $5 for shipping. If you're a Tomb Raider fan, this adds a bit more value if you have an old broken video card laying around.

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