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The Radeon 9800 Pro card
OK, enough of the egghead graphics geek stuff. Let's check out the new hardware. Here are some beauty shots of the card:

The 9800 Pro card isn't wildly different from the Radeon 9700 Pro. Many of the same bits are in the same places, although the board itself is about a half-inch longer than the 9700 cards. All the standard graphics card stuff is there, including VGA, DVI, and TV-Out ports. One especially welcome addition is that cute little heatsink on the card's voltage regulator. The metal plate on the back side of the original 9700 cards tended to get very hot, and the heatsink seems like a better design.

Remarkably, the card's main heatsink and cooler is actually smaller than the stock ATI cooler on the 9700 Pro. The unit's fan has more blades at a sharper angle than the 9700's fan, but noise levels seem largely unchanged. As with the 9700, the Radeon 9800 Pro is barely audible amidst the noise generated by a standard CPU heatsink/fan combo and a power supply fan.

ATI uses Samsung DDR memory chips on the 9800 Pro, and unlike the 9700, the 9800 card uses a four-pin Molex-type connector for auxiliary power. These connectors are more abundant in most systems than the smaller floppy-drive power connector on the 9700 cards, so the change is welcome.

Now that we've ogled the card, let's see how it performs.