Silent but Deadly

Sapphire Atlantis Pro 9700 Ultimate Edition
4.5 stars
Manufacturer: Sapphire
MSRP $399

Jason Cross

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This article originally appeared in Computer Games Magazine #150

With all the talk about the GeForce FX’s loud cooling system on the Ultra model, it’s interesting to take a look at the other side of the fence, a high-end video card that features totally passive, and therefore silent, cooling. Sapphire’s Atlantis Pro 9700 takes a standard Radeon 9700 Pro and replaces its normal cooling with a giant metal monstrosity that uses a heat pipe to transfer heat to even more heat sink on the back. As if this wasn’t enough metal, there are heat sinks on the RAM, too. All this cooling makes the card so wide that you can’t put anything in the neighboring PCI slot, but the upshot is that there’s no fan at all, so it never contributes even the slightest hum to that god-awful racket coming from your case.

The Ultimate Edition is designed for hardcore gamers, and comes with a pretty detailed tweak utility that lets you overclock to your heart’s content and adjust all kinds of visual settings in the driver, even setting up profiles for individual games. You’ll also find full versions of Soldier of Fortune II and Return to Castle Wolfenstein in the box, along with PowerDVD, so the bundle is rather attractive.

When it came to cranking up the clock, it was only able to sustain a stable core/memory clock speed of 344/344 MHz, up from the standard 324/310. This delivers an extra 3% performance boost, which is hardly enough to notice without looking at the benchmark numbers. Still, the 9700 is a great chip, it’s neat to see a passively-cooled high end card, and it has a great software bundle. 

This article originally appeared in Computer Games Magazine #150