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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [10.01.02]
Manufactured by: ATI

MSRP: $399.00



With the Radeon 8500, we saw some hints that ATI had what it takes to topple NVIDIA to become the maker of the fastest video card in the world.  While the sales figures for top end video cards don't mean everything, they are certainly capable of garnering interest towards one company.

ATI's next addition to the Top End line is the Radeon 9700 PRO.

The Radeon 9700 PRO sports 128MB of DDR ram running at 310 MHz (620 MHz effectively), and a core operating at 325 MHz.  There are no plans for a 64MB version, but I'm sure we'll see some lower model numbers with less RAM and maybe some features disabled.

The big feature on the box of course is DirectX 9 compatibility.  DX9 isn't expected to be released until sometime this winter, so unfortunately there's no way for us to test this capability.  Games won't start using DX9 exclusively for quite a while of course.

Unfortunately, all the attention spent on DX9 means limited OpenGL support.  Again, there aren't a heck of a lot of games coming out using OpenGL... Besides Doom ]|[ how many "Tier 1" titles can you name? Unfortunately, this means most games may suffer a performance hit on the 9700.  We'll look at this later on.

The Card

This is the reference design of course.  Expect to see the exact same design here on essentially every Radeon 9700 Pro you buy.  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, ATI 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.

On the bracket you'll find 3 separate outputs - Standard VGA, S-Video output (an RCA adapter is included) and straight DFI out.  Only two of these may be employed at any single time however.  Also included is a DFI > VGA adapter, so you can use two CRT monitors (or two LCD adapters that use VGA connections).

Card specifications:

GPU Frequency: 325 MHz
Memory: 128 MB 256 bit
Memory Speed: 310 MHz DDR (620 MHz effective)
Multi-monitor support: Yes
AGP 8x max
Vertex Shader 2.0 w/T&L program
Pixel shader 2.0
Fully DirectX9 compliant
SMOOTHVISION 2.0 AA/Ansio unit
TV-Out: 800x600 max
8 pixel pipelines
1 texture unit per pipe

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