At first glance you might be mistaken for thinking that this is just a regular Radeon 9700 / Pro card. Both cards do look disarmingly similar in design. The first notable difference is the provision of an upgraded cooler to take care of the higher VPU frequency. Speaking of frequencies, the Radeon 9800 Pro operates at 380MHz core and 680MHz memory. That's around a 17% faster VPU and 10% faster memory speeds than the present Radeon 9700 Pro. There's a little more in it than pure clock speeds alone, as I'll show once we discuss the attributes of the card and begin the benchmarking run in earnest.
The back of the card is pretty much as one would expect. There's no extra cooling on the underside of the VPU, and no extra cooling to the TinyBGA RAM modules. Our reference board was a strict non-qualification review sample, so retail boards may vary a little here or there.
Because of the complexity and power usage of the card, ATi have wisely decided to go with a molex-style power connector to supply any additional power requirements. This, as you will probably know, ties in with the GeForce FX Ultra and replaces the floppy-style connector found on the present Radeon 9700 Pro. I'm sure that all manufacturers will bundle a passthrough connector with the retail card.
The cooler, an aluminium fare, replaces the smaller plastic cooler on the R300. The fan, whilst looking like the R300's, seems to spin at a noticeably faster RPM. The number of fins have been increased from the present 9700 Pro's cooler and the sound is of a slightly higher pitch. The card is most definitely louder in operation, although still nowhere near the excruciatingly loud GeForce FX's FXFlow cooling.
Some were prophesising the use of DDR-II memory on the Radeon 9800 Pro. That, as the above picture will graphically show, is not the case here. Samsung are gainfully employed to provide the 128MB of TinyBGA memory again. Samsung's chip codes give no definitive answer as to the rated speed of the modules, but a fair estimate would be in the region of 2.5 / 2.6ns, thereby giving 680MHz with ease.