You shoult be able to use the "stock ATI" drivers with the Sapphire card, although I'd assume it would ship with its own drivers. From what I understand, pretty much every single one (no exceptions that I know of) of the board makers making a Radeon 9500/9700 card are following ATI's reference design to the letter, so for the time being, it shouldn't matter which one you get.
However, the unconfirmed rumor is that very early Radeon 9500's from SOME manufacturers are being made on 9700 boards, meaning that while they're only the 4-pipeline 9500 chip, they enjoy the 256-bit bus bandwidth of the 9700 and 9700 pro. Not sure which specific vendors are doing this initially, but it was just temporary AFAIK and you're taking your chances by guessing who or whether it's just the 9500 or 9500 pro's, too...
This only matters on the 3D/games end of things, obviously, but is still interesting.
I just purchased a 9500 pro board (ATI OEM built) and found it on Pricewatch for like $167, delivered...
I sure hope you did find a PRO at $167. I do not see any Pros listed on Pricewatch, 128 9500s only. NewEgg has the 128 9500 for 163 and the 128 9500 Pro at $198. I am not sure if there is a difference or someone just forgot to add the word Pro. Very confusing to say the least.
Well, what I am talking about is if you go to the home page and click on the link Multimedia/video cards, you will not see a catagory listing for 9500 pro. There are pro catagories for the 9700 and 9000 but not the 9500. There are listings for 9500 128 MB and 9500 64MB, but there are 128MB non-pros too.
Ahhhh... I always use the search function though, for the same reason you're talking about. I find more things, and cheaper, using search rather than browsing through pricewatch's menu.
Xtreme Gear's website confirmed that this was, indeed, a 9500 PRO and I figured if it's not (as I was skeptical of the price difference at first, too), I printed the receipt and will return it promptly.
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