iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






October 2002 3Digest -
ATI RADEON 9700Pro 128MB DDR (325/620 MHz)

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This chip is presented by Hercules 3D Prophet 9700 Pro 128MB, AGP card.


  • 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.

  1. 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).
  2. Well, RADEON 9700 is surely a today's king. But don't forget about close release of NVIDIA NV30 that can become a new leader this fall. Perhaps, it won't "kill" RADEON 9700, but will surely push it aside, forcing ATI to cut prices.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 October 2002 the latest drivers from ATI are 6.178, 6.193 for Windows XP.

Windows XP

As you can see, new versions are almost identical.

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.

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.

Example 1 Example 2
3DMark2001, Game 1

AA 4x

AA 6x

3DMark2001, Game 3

AA 4x

AA 6x

3DMark2001, Game 4

AA 4x

AA 6x

Serious Sam: TSE

AA 4x

AA 6x

Below are screenshots from a number of games taken on RADEON 9700, and the reference screenshots taken on NVIDIA GeForce3.

Games / Cards 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12


Games / Cards 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24


Games / Cards 25 26 27 28 29 30


Game list:

  • 1. Return to Castle Wolfenstein
  • 2. Unreal2 (alpha version)
  • 3. Comanche4
  • 4. Jedi Knight II Outcast
  • 5. Morrowind
  • 6. Colin McRAE Rally2 (Windows XP)
  • 7. Red Faction
  • 8. Rally Trophy
  • 9. Sacrifice
  • 10. Venom
  • 11. Unreal Tournament 2003 DEMO
  • 12. DOOM 3 v0.02
  • 13. Blade of Darkness (Windows XP)
  • 14. Neverwinter Nights
  • 15. 3DMark2001: Game1
  • 16. 3DMark2001: Game2
  • 17. 3DMark2001: Game3
  • 18. 3DMark2001: Game4
  • 19. 3DMark2001: Dot3
  • 20. 3DMark2001: EMBM
  • 21. 3DMark2001: Vertex Shaders
  • 22. 3DMark2001: Pixel Shaders
  • 23. Warcraft III
  • 24. Soldier of Fortune II
  • 25. Command and Conquer: Renegade
  • 26. Max Payne
  • 27. AquaNox
  • 28. Serious Sam: The Second Encounter
  • 29. IL2: Shturmovik
  • 30. MoHAA

Andrey Vorobiev (Anvakams@ixbt.com)
Alexander Kondakov (kondalex@ixbt.com)

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