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Reviewed by: Bryan Pizzuti [03.09.03]
Edited by: Carl Nelson

Card manufacturer: Powercolor
GPU Manufacturer: ATI

MSRP: $370
Street: $240-290

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Yes, it's true the RADEON 9700 core has been out for a bit, touting all of its wonderful advanced features, most notably support for DirectX9.  Also notable is the fact that we hadn't reviewed one yet.  Well, now that we have a benchmark that allows us to test DirectX9 functions, it's time to dissect what many have called ATI's return to glory: the RADEON 9700 Pro chip, in this case carried by a Powercolor card.

The Box

The name and the artwork are great, especially the "Evil Commando" tagline.  It just seems "funkier" then the generic ATI packaging (it just SCREAMS Taiwan).  Powercolor has been using the "Evil" name for years, since their original "Evil Kyro."  I guess Evil is Good.  If only we could get them to start using Skeletor on their boxes!

I've seen much more extensive software bundles included with video cards, but I've also seen much worse, as well.  In addition to the card, and driver CD, Powercolor includes their standard WinDVD 4 CD, a copy of 4x4 EVO 2, and a CD containing "Six Valuable Lite Games." Powercolor's RADEON 9700 series multilanguage manual is included as well.  Unlike Powercolor's Xabre manual, this one only has to cover 2 video cards, and leaves room for a lot more details about the drivers. That's good, since there's a lot more detail to be had. More on this later though; first we'll look at

The Card

This is pretty much ATI's reference design, since ATI OEMs the cards as well as the chips for all of their recent "pro" models.  One thing to note is the power connector.  The 9700Pro GPU's power literally needs power.  More power than the AGP port can provide, in fact.  Hence this connector, so that the card can be plugged directly into the power supply.  This isn't new, since a similar setup was used back in the Voodoo5 series, but this is the first time since then that a consumer-level gaming card has needed external power.

Also, this isn't the more common 4-pin Molex connector; instead it's a floppy-style connector.  Most power supplies don't have very many of these to spare; luckily, Powercolor includes a connector for it that adapts a 4-pin molex, and also provides an extra Molex on the end, in case you can't afford to lose one.

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