Up until the recent announcement of the 9800 Pro, the Radeon 9700 Pro was ATi's top dog. Even with the GeForce FX nipping away at the performance crown, the 9700 Pro was still an option for the performance crowd. Looking at the 9700 Pro on its own, it's easy to see why. It is an advanced piece of hardware, and can handle any modern game thrown at it with relative ease. Gamers were very satisfied, but as we all know, you can do much more than just use your PC for gaming.
The All-in-Wonder series of video cards addresses those needs that enthusiasts would want out of a video card. More than just for games, the AiW cards allowed users to edit video, watch television on their PCs, and when you get bored with that, fire up a game and blow some baddies away. The problem with the past AiW cards was that despite being upgraded with each new GPU release by ATi, they were never as fast as their gaming card counterparts. The Radeon 8500 for example was a fast card when released, but the AiW 8500, though based on the same GPU technology, was a slower version of it.
Well my friends… that will hopefully change with future AiW cards, as the All-in-Wonder 9700 Pro was released late last year. Unlike the past AiWs, the AiW 9700 Pro is exactly as the name implies. It is the latest in the AiW family, and is based off exactly the same technology as the Radeon 9700 Pro. What we're talking about is the same GPU advances, as well as running at the same speeds as its desktop brother. Does it deserve the coveted AGP slot in your PC? That is the question we will hopefully answer.
Powered by the RADEON™ 9700 PRO visual processing unit
Unparalleled TV and DVD features: TV-ON-DEMAND™, Gemstar GUIDE Plus+™, mulTView™, VIDEOSOAP™, THRUVIEW™ and much more
Easily edit video into your own creations: Video CD and DVD Authoring
128 MB DDR memory
AGP 8X support
Complete DirectX® 9.0 support
30 foot user interface for hand held remote control to control your pc applications
Use component output to watch TV, DVDs, and videos on your High Definition TVs
Unmatched TV and DVD Features
Stereo TV tuner with 125 channels
TV-ON-DEMAND™: Pause live TV, record broadcasts, and video playback
Integrated Gemstar GUIDE Plus+™ for scheduling and recording TV programs
THRUVIEW™ allows for translucent viewing of TV - never move your TV window to get to your work again
Easily Edit Videos In Your Own Creations
Capture still images and video for use in your own creations
Add effects, transitions, and sound to video footage
Save your authored videos to VideoCD and DVD format
Revolutionary New Video Features
THEATER™ 200 provides exceptional video quality viewing during live TV and video input and capture
The All-In Wonder 9700 Pro
As with all their products, the AiW 9700 Pro ships in ATi's red and black box. If you've never owned an AiW product, one thing you'll notice right away is the weight of the package. Being their flagship video card, they pack a lot of goodies, including cables, manuals, CDs, a breakout box, a remote and the AiW 9700 Pro itself.
The AiW 9700 Pro is a full sized AGP card, though no larger than the desktop Radeon 9700 Pro. There isn't any extraordinary cooling, or extra large PCB, so you shouldn't have any physical issues with installation.
The heatsink design is similar to that of the Radeon 9700 Pro, although it has been slightly modified to fit into the board layout. This HSF cools the R300 GPU, clocked at 325MHz. There are also a couple more heatsinks near the capacitor. I guess there's no such thing as not enough cooling.
There are 128MBs of 2.8ns BGA chips are manufactured by Samsung, and clocked at 310MHz (620MHz DDR). The BGA ram has no cooling whatsoever though, so this will likely hinder overclocking a little.
Like all the Radeon cards above 9500, you will need to plug in the power cable to provide the extra juice to the AiW 9700 Pro. ATi suggest a 300W PSU, but as we like to tell our readers, more is better, and don't forget quality is important.
There are plenty of I/O connections on the AiW 9700 Pro. What gets used will depend on how you plan to setup your PC. There is no standard 15-pin VGA connection, but there is a DVI-VGA adapter included. Keep in mind that there is no dual screen support. You can only have one DVI-LCD or VGA connection at any one time.
I'm not going to dig in to deeply into the R300 core, but feel free to go over our Radeon 9700 Pro review. There are a few items that I feel are worth re-mentioning though.
The R300 is based on the mature 0.15u manufacturing process. There is an 8 pixel and 4 vertex pipeline, but it is limited to one texture per pipeline. The Pro version of the R300 is clocked at 325MHz, though it is entirely possible that OEMs, and non-Pro models (you can bet on this) will be slower.
The R300 supports DirectX 9.0 and AGP 8x. Though it's not like there are any DX9 games out there, this is a forward-looking feature. The same goes with AGP8x, as current games don't really saturate the AGP4x bus.
Full-scene anti-aliasing (FSAA) and anisotropic filtering is improved from earlier versions in the form of Smoothvision 2.0. These features are there to improve image quality in games by removing the jaggies and the blur normally present in 3D games.
Truform adds additional polygons that will smooth the edges of a curved object. HyperZ III addresses the memory bandwidth issues that plague many video cards. Videoshader is supposed help smooth out streaming video, which tends to be blocky. The results are clearer and smoother video.
Now that we've gotten over the basics, let's look at the items that make the AiW what it is.
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