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    ATi Radeon 9700 Pro Mini Review

    Date:September 11th, 2002
    Type:Mini Review
    RRP:$850 AUS

    With nVidia based GeForce 4 Ti4600 graphics cards leading the market for the past few months it is good to see some competition reappear with the introduction of the ATI based Radeon 9700 series graphics cards.

    Today we were lucky enough to receive our first shipment of these cards at work and decided to do a little bit of testing of our own to see with our own eyes the power.

    "RADEON 9700 PRO is the world's fastest* and most advanced graphics board, featuring ATI's RADEON 9700 PRO Visual Processing Unit (VPU). Through a combination of incredible 3D rendering performance, sophisticated real-time visual effects, unsurpassed image quality and cutting-edge video features, it takes the PC entertainment experience to a totally new level." - ATi

    • 128MB DDR Memory
    • 256-bit Memory Interface
    • Industry's first 8-pixel pipeline architecture
    • Supports the new AGP 8X standard (2.0 GB/sec)
    • First to fully support DirectX 9.0 and the latest OpenGL functionality
    • New SMARTSHADER 2.0 technology
    • SMOOTHVISION 2.0 technology
    • 128-bit floating-point color precision
    • Unique VIDEOSHADER engine
    • ATI's new FULLSTREAM technology

    Enough with the specs and boring stuff and now into the actual testing.

    In order to get a wide range of results we used three rather different systems that were available to us, we tested the systems as they where with their original cards and then once again with the ATI Radeon 9700 Pro.

    (Note: We used 3D Mark 2001 SE for our benchmarking)

    Test System #1:
    Pentium 4 2.4GHz (Standard HSF)
    ASUS P4S533 Motherboard
    256MB DDR PC2100 Memory
    Aopen 52xCD-ROM
    Leadtek GeForce 4 MX440 64MB DDR
    Western Digital 40GB 7200RPM Hard Disk
    Windows 2000 Pro (Service Pack 3)
    3D Marks: 5881 (Using 30.82 Detonator Drivers)

    Test System #2:
    AMD Athlon XP 1800+ @ 1.61GHz (140FSB) (Volcano 7 HSF)
    Gigabyte GA-7VTXE KT266A Motherboard
    2 x 256MB PC2100 Memory
    Adaptec 19160 U160 SCSI Controller
    2 x 10,000RPM 36GB Hard Drives
    Sound Blaster Live! 5.1
    Windows 2000 Pro (Service Pack 3)
    ATI Radeon 8500LE 64MB DDR (250/250) OEM
    3D Marks: 8310 (Using Catalyst 6118 Drivers)

    Test System #3:
    Dual AMD Athlon XP 1700+ (Volcano 7 HSF's)
    Tyan Tiger MPX S2466-4M Motherboard
    2 x 256MB DDR PC2100 Memory
    Mylex 150 SCSI RAID Adapter
    2 x 9.1GB IBM 7200RPM (SCSI RAID-0)
    9.1GB Atlas II 10000RPM (SCSI)
    20GB 7200RPM Fugitsu
    40GB 7200RPM Seagate
    Sound Blaster Live! 5.1
    Windows 2000 (Service Pack 3)
    Hercules 3D Prophet GeForce 3 Ti500 64MB
    3D Marks: 7748 (Using 1.1.82 Omega Drivers)

    Test System #4:
    AMD Athlon XP 1800+ @ 1.61GHz (140FSB) (Volcano 7 HSF)
    Gigabyte GA-7VRXP KT333 Motherboard
    2 x 256MB DDR PC2700 Kingmax Memory
    2 x 80GB Seagate 7200RPM (IDE RAID-0)
    Sound Blaster Live! 5.1
    Windows XP Professional (Service Pack 1)
    Hercules 3D Prophet GeForce 2 Ti 64MB - 3D Marks: 5181 (Using 1.1.82 Omega Drivers)
    ATi Radeon 8500LE 64MB DDR OEM - 3D Marks: 8546 (Using 6166 Catalyst Drivers)

    All the following where achieved using the supplied drivers (and only the Pentium 4 had a fresh installation of Windows).

    System #1 Results:
    12802 3D Marks
    13330 3D Marks @ 2.64GHz
    13630 3D Marks @ 2.71GHz

    System #2 Results:
    12160 3D Marks @ Performance Settings
    ~7782 3D Marks @ Quality Settings

    Here is just a snapshot of one of the results:

    System #3 Results:
    ~10341 3D Marks (System was / is having a bottleneck, will keep testing)

    System #4 Results:
    11791 3D Marks @ Default Install Settings
    12182 3D Marks @ Performance Settings

    Here is just a snapshot of one of the results:

    Well my friends we have a dead set, hands down, winner right here, the ATI Radeon 9700 Pro is certainly all that it was hyped up to be, and just you wait until DirectX 9.0 is released later this year to take control of the full potential of this card.

    Unfortunately for those Linux enthusiasts there wont be Linux drivers for a while... but hey, aren't we glad for VM Ware and Dual Booting :)

    We did notice a few problems here and there while testing, mainly some problems in games due to Anti-Aliasing and the likes, but most of these were overcome with settings and patchs. This is expected with a first driver release and should mostly be fixed once updated and better drivers are released.

    Score: 10 / 10

    Full Reviews are available here:
    Toms Hardware
    ZDNet UK Reviews
    Digit Life

    Product Information is available here:
    ATi Radeon 9700 Pro Home Page

    On a further note we can't wait to get our hands on a Gigabyte and Hercules card for comparison.

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