August 2002 3Digest -
ATI RADEON 9700Pro 128MB DDR (325/620 MHz)
This chip is presented by ATI RADEON 9700 Pro 128MB, AGP videocard.
- ATI RADEON 9700 chip, 325 MHz clock rate;
- 128MB DDR SGRAM in 8 Samsung BGA
K4D26323RA-GC2A chips. Maximum clock rate - 350 (700) MHz, so the access time is 2.8ns instead of 2.2 (provided in some reviews). By default the memory works at 310 (620) MHz, 256-bit bus;
- Peak fill rate in the multitexturing mode is 2600 megapixels/sec and 2600 megatexels/sec.
Overclocks to 360/700 MHz.
In July 2002 ATI Technologies announced its new the the most powerful 3D GPU - RADEON 9700. Later it became a base for ATI RADEON 9700Pro card. All details about the new 3D graphics top-model are provided in our review. Here we'll state only brief analysis results.
- In general, the card is good despite the chip complexity and high temperature operation (without additional external cooling the chip heats to 85 degrees (!), and PCB - up to 68-70. Though it doesn't affect card stability (tested by 6-hour cycled 3DMark2001).
- Yes, RADEON 9700 is naturally the king for today. But: it's not widely spread (shipments are to start in September), and do not forget NVIDIA's NV30 that can become a new leader in fall this year. Perhaps, it won't "kill" RADEON 8500 9700, but will push it aside and make ATI cut prices for sure.
- As for card performance, I must say that we can't evaluate DirectX 9 features, as it hasn't been released yet, as well as any beta DX9 drivers. So, later we'll get back to our RADEON 9700 article and will release the third part of the review. The second part will be released soon after this digest and will be dedicated to video features, TV-out, AGP8x (all results were obtained with AGP4x in this digest).
- I must note that due to some reason (perhaps, mobo BIOS) after you install ATI RADEON 9700 Pro to Soltek 75DRV5 (VIA KT333), there are only AGP 1x and 2x available (!). 4X is n/a though, the mobo works in this mode with other cards. As this card DOESN'T SEEM TO SUPPORT 2X (!), any 3D app locks up.
- Besides, the software is rather buggy, in particular, the driver control panel, making you switch some setting 2 or 3 times to get a result. So, ATI programers have a work to do (though 6.143 is digitally signed).
- As for 3D, we can say that despite low results in synthetic tests, the general performance is very good. And 8X1 architecture will burden future resource-greedy games. But today I can tell you one thing: enabled AA and anisotropy are a must for this card! (The latter is especially good.) So, we advise all willing to pay $400 for a super card to learn about 3D graphics basics not to be afraid to enable and control 3D quality features.
- After minuses (low fill rate due to 8X1, high price, low availability for the end of the summer, game artefacts), pluses, besides the general performance, are the improved anisotropic filtering support and better AA (high quality at moderate performance reduction.)
On the 10th of August 2002 the latest drivers from ATI are 6.143 for Windows XP.
I shall note there's
Radeon2.ru web-site that tracks all software novelties from ATI and offers improved drivers versions with preset registry settings for increasing RADEON cards perfomance.
All the latest drivers belong to the CATALYST serie. However it hasn't been debugged for RADEON 9700, causing a number of problems in games (all the details are provided on the digest main page.)
As there are currently not actual apps, using Shaders 2.0, and DirectX 9.0 hasn't been released, we'll provide some demos, based on DirectX 9.0.beta1.
Taking into account the new anisotropy quality, I recommend you to read the anisotropic filtering section.
Below are screenshots of the new RADEON 9700 feature: SmoothVision II - MSAA.