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ATi All-In-Wonder VE: Want the absolute latest TV-Tuner and consumer level video editing card, but don't want to fork over the big bucks? What if I said you can get all this for under 105$? Yup, you read that right, so keep reading...
Date: March 10, 2003
Catagory: Video Cards
Written By:

Though the use of computers is still mostly for work, or more importantly, playing the latest video games, more and more people are looking for something that can do it all. We're talking about a video card that can play games, power your 2D desktop, and output to TV. Better still is a card that can also double as a TV tuner, and allow for some TiVO action. So what do you do to get TV on your PC?

One solution is to keep your current card, and grab a TV-Tuner, which is a good idea if already own a decent AGP card. What if your video card is less than stellar though? Worse still, what if your AGP video is integrated? Though a TV-Tuner will get you your favorite episode of Friends, most lack video editing capabilities, let alone any acceleration for your favorite action game. This can be a problem if you are building a home theatre PC, and would still like to play a game or two occasionally. Ideally, you'll want a card that can do it all.

There are not many cards that can do this. nVidia's Personal Cinema is an add-on to their video cards, and frankly, it isn't easy to find any that pairs up with the GeForce 4. ATi has their All-In-Wonder series, which in my opinion does the best job of bringing everything together.

This brings us to the question of cost. The AiW 9700 Pro, the current flagship, doesn't come cheap. ATi has addressed the cost concerns with a new AiW 9000, but it may still be a bit pricey for some people. That is where the ATi AiW Radeon VE comes in. It's cheap, provides TV-Tuner and video editing capabilities, and is powered by the Radeon 7500, which is no screamer, but will let you play most games at acceptable framerates. Though not everyone has an AGP slot, everyone will have a PCI slot, which will work out fine since the AiW VE is a PCI part. The reasoning behind this is ATi is gearing the AiW VE as an inexpensive solution for people who own systems without AGP slots. If you're wondering why an enthusiast would care, well, early adopters jumped on the first Shuttle SFFs, given the decent performance, and portability, but got sacked for poor integrated video performance. These very PCs can now get a new lease on life with the AiW VE as an inexpensive TiVo.


Powered by the RADEON™ 7500 graphical processing unit (RV200)
PCI interface
64MB DDR memory accelerates the latest in video games and applications
THEATER™ 200 provides exceptional video quality viewing during live TV and video input and capture
Pinnacle Studio™ 8, ATI Version, allows for ease of creation for personal video masterpieces

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

Click to Enlarge

The ATi AiW Radeon VE arrived in the typical red box we're accustomed to with ATi. The packaging contains all the information you need on what the card is capable of. At a street price of about , you get a lot of functionality for your hard earned ducats. Packaging is neat, with the card, manual and CD on the upper half of the packaging, and the rest of the stuff on the bottom.

AiW 8500DV (left), AiW VE (right)

The AiW VE is not a large card at all, though it is a full sized one. I'm mentioning this because although it should fit in most cases, half height cases (Slim PCs) won't be able to use this card without a PCI riser.

Click to Enlarge

Powering the AiW VE is the RV200, aka the Radeon 7500 graphical processing unit. It isn't the most powerful GPU (ok, it isn't all that great for the latest pixel pushing games), but it does have T&L support. There is only DirectX 7 hardware support, which means there's no pixel and vertex shader support. It is essentially a die shrunk R100, and is based on a .15µ manufacturing process.

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Given its manufacturing process, and the fact that it isn't clocked nearly as high as the 8500 and 9700 AiWs, the VE uses passive cooling to keep the GPU cool. Even after some gaming, I didn't find the heatsink too warm, so this should be more than enough. The upside to this approach is that without a fan, the card naturally runs silent. The last thing you need when setting up a PC theatre is more noise.

I half expected generic TSOP memory chips to adorn the AiW VE. Let's face it… most budget cards don't use BGA memory, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover this.

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On the back of the card, you have all you various I/O choices. Missing is a DVI connection, so if you've been dreaming of outputting the video to a nice DVI LCD, keep on dreaming.

Missing from the bundle is the ATi Remote Wonder. Given the low price, it's understandable why they omitted the remote, but providing a discount coupon, or maybe bundling it with the AiW VE for an extra 30$ would have been a good idea.

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