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ATi Radeon 9500 Pro: As much as everyone would like a top-of-the-line card, the reality is most people will probably have to settle for something cheaper. Cheaper doesn't have to mean suck-ass though.
Date: May 5, 2003
Catagory: Video Cards
Written By: Quasar

Being a student, money isn't something that I have a whole lot of. I still do consider myself something of an enthusiast, but the reality is, I don't have 400$ to blow on the latest video cards. I do play a fair number of games though, so I am ready to spend what I can afford, which is why I've been such a nVidia mark for a long time. The GeForce 4 Ti4200 has always done the job for me, but I hesitated when the AGP8x came out. Given my lack of will power, I picked it up anyways. The main reason for the hesitation was that I didn't think the bump to AGP8x was worth it, but the other reason was I was getting bored with nVidia. Don't get me wrong, it's still a good board, but I never felt it was much more than a speed bumped GeForce 3. The image quality wasn't too good, and considering the amount of time I spent writing code, this was another area I wanted to address.

I briefly considered the Matrox Parhelia, but the price tag and gaming performance left much to be desired (yes, that was a dig). The Radeon 9700 Pro was something I wanted, but that wasn't cheap either. I did end up with a good compromise though, and today we'll be looking at the OEM ATi 9500 Pro.


Fast 3D gaming performance
Complete Microsoft® DirectX® 9.0 support
128MB of DDR memory
8-pixel pipeline architecture
128-bit memory interface
Video output support
Featuring CATALYST™ - Industry-leading software suite

I'm not going to fill up the page with all the specifications, so if you want to know every detail, feel free to checkout their .

The ATi 9500 Pro

The 9500 Pro shares essentially the same feature set as the 9700 Pro. Both are based on the 0.15u manufacturing process. Both have eight rendering pipelines, and four geometry pipelines. In fact, items such as the RAMDAC speeds, AGP8x, DX9 support, and the technology features (Smartshader, Truform, etc) are identical. That is where the similarities end.

The obvious difference is the clock speed. The Radeon 9700 Pro is clocked at 325MHz, while the 9500 Pro is 50MHz slower at 275MHz. The memory used is also slower, which is 270MHz (540MHz DDR). Another change with the memory is that the memory bus is 128-bits. The 9700 Pro has a 256-bit pathway, which is why it dominates at higher resolutions. The result is 8.8GB/sec of bandwidth for the 9500 Pro and almost 20GB/sec for the 9700 Pro. The last difference is the PCB layout, which isn't all that important really.

The changes from the 9700 Pro to the 9500 Pro explain the much lower price tag, which could be as much as 100% depending where you shop. I have seen the card for as low as . As much as enthusiasts would like to have the fastest, the reality is that the majority of the consumer market is made up of cards under 200$.

The input/output options allows for you to run a dual monitor setup via Hydravision. I don't have a second monitor to test this, but along with a standard VGA connection, you also have a DVI connection. If you want to power two CRT monitors, a DVI-to-VGA connection is available either separately or in the retail box.

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