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The card
Although their marketing materials and product literature are littered with a brand of hip slang that borders on l337speak, VisionTek closely follows ATI's reference design for the Radeon 9800 Pro 256MB. The Xtasy is even done up on a fire-engine red board:



There's certainly nothing wrong with sticking to ATI's reference design, but I'd really like to see graphics card manufacturers offering a little more board-level variety. ATI's stock red-and-silver color scheme at least has a little sex appeal, so it should be worth showing off in a windowed case.


VisionTek adheres to the Radeon 9800 Pro 256MB reference design so strictly that they don't even bother slapping their own sticker onto the card's cooling fan—not that the card needs a custom cooling solution. The stock cooler keeps the 0.15-micron R350 chip cool enough, and its fan is nearly silent.


Unlike the Radeon 9800 Pro 128MB, whose memory chips are left bare, the Xtasy Radeon 9800 Pro 256MB has tiny a aluminum heat sink on each chip. The individual heat sinks have plenty of fins to increase surface area, but they should have a short enough profile to avoid clearance problems.


A month ago, Tyan teased us with the prospect of a dual DVI Radeon 9600 Pro, but the product was cancelled before it made it to store shelves. With a mid-range card like the 9600 Pro, dual DVI was probably overkill, but VisionTek should have no excuse for not including a second DVI output on a premium high-end card like the Xtasy 9800 Pro 256MB.

Unfortunately, the Xtasy 9800 Pro 256MB has only single DVI, VGA, and S-Video output ports. The card doesn't have a video input port, either, which is a little disappointing given its price point. I'm not aware of any vanilla Radeon-based graphics cards that offer VIVO capabilities, which makes me wonder if ATI isn't making an effort to protect its multimedia-oriented All-in-Wonder line.


In the bundle department, the Xtasy 9800 Pro is unique not so much for what it has, but for what it lacks. The card ships with a handful of essential video cables and adapters, but no software bundle to speak of. VisionTek includes a driver CD, but they've wisely chosen to leave out the two year-old bargain bin games that typify most bundles.