Sapphire PURE PI-A9RX480 - ATI's Chipset for the AMD Enthusiast
The Sapphire PURE Innovation PI-A9RX480 is the first production Radeon Xpress 200 board that is clearly targeted at the AMD enthusiast, but there are other ATI Radeon Xpress 200 chipset boards on the way from Asus, MSI, DFI, ECS, Abit, TUL, ECS, and others. Our performance tests here are of the latest production Sapphire single-GPU RX480, but Sapphire and ATI tell us that performance of the Crossfire ATI should be exactly the same in single GPU mode. We will talk more about Jaguar/Crossfire Intel performance later in a Part 2 of this article. We also will ignore integrated graphics from a performance viewpoint, even though all options can provide integrated graphics if the necessary Radeon Xpress 200 north bridge is used. The integrated video solutions basically combine on-board ATI X300 graphics on either the AMD or Intel Radeon Xpress 200 chipset. You can read more about the performance of these integrated solutions in our review comparing ATI and Intel integrated graphics solutions.
Several days ago, we published benchmarks comparing Crossfire AMD to NVIDIA SLI and found Crossfire X850 XT to be very competitive with NVIDIA 6800 Ultra SLI - even with pre-release hardware and drivers. Today, we look more deeply at a production version of the ATI Grouper that will be launched by Sapphire next week. Grouper is the single GPU version of the Crossfire chipset, but it is otherwise identical to Crossfire AMD. The Sapphire PURE Innovation PI-A9RX480 should perform as a chipset exactly the same as Crossfire AMD. How does Grouper perform compared to the best AMD chipsets on the market? What features will be available on ATI chipset boards? Of course, ATI has clearly targeted the AMD enthusiast with their new chipsets. With that in mind, the biggest question is whether or not the Sapphire PI-A9RX480 is worthy of consideration by AMD enthusiasts.