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ATI All-In-Wonder RADEON 9800 Pro
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Date: Jun 09, 2003
Section:Graphics/Sound
Author: HH Editor
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ATI AllInWonder RADEON 9800 Pro - Page 1

 

ATi's All-In-Wonder 9800 Pro
When You've Got To Have It All

By: Dave Atlavilla
June 9, 2003

 

 

Circuit Design, whether it be at the chip level or board level, is truly an art form.  Electrical Engineers and Architects are challenged with optimizing functionality, performance and cost, into an ever shrinking piece of real-estate, either in Silicon or FR4 PCB material.  Faster, smaller and better is the name of the game and "continuous improvement" is a given not a variable.  Oh, and did we mention your creative energy needs to be supremely focused within a blistering 6 month design cycle?  Sorry, no breezy 18 month hiatus in Cabo San Lucas for you, after launch day.  Once they take the wraps off your new baby, it's back to the grind, since the competition is already locked and loaded with another response to your new "earth-shattering" creation.  At this level of intensity, it's easy to miss the mark but there's no margin for error.

The Engineers at ATi certainly are keenly aware of this hostile environment and as of late, you've got to hand it to them, they've been executing flawlessly.  Comparatively, a flagship ATi board, like the Radeon 9800 Pro, is a significantly more efficient, cost effective elegant design than any NVIDIA high end product.  Anyone that has seen a GeForce FX 5900 side by side, versus a Radeon 9800 Pro, can easily attest to this.  Furthermore, if NVIDIA were to even consider integrating the features of an ATi All In Wonder product, it would be a monumental undertaking. 

As a result, the product we have on showcase for you today, one would say is in a league of its own.  Featuring ATi's most powerful VPU, the ATi All-In-Wonder Radeon 9800 Pro also boasts TV and Multimedia features previously only found in discrete solutions.  This card is targeted at those who want it all and in one low profile AGP slot.  Are all things "wondrous" with this new high end ATi All-In-Wonder?  We'll try to answer that for you in the pages ahead.

Features of the All-In-Wonder RADEON 9800 Pro
Top End Enthusiast Gaming, TV , Video And Multimedia - You CAN have it all.


Click to Enlarge


 

GRAPHICS TECHNOLOGY

  • Powered by the RADEON? 9800 PRO visual processor (VPU) clocked at 380MHz

MEMORY CONFIGURATION

  • 128MB of Double Data Rate DRAM clocked at 680MHz

3D GRAPHICS FEATURES

  • Eight parallel rendering pipelines process up to 1 billion pixels per second

SMARTSHADER? 2.1

Full support for Microsoft® DirectX® 9.0 programmable vertex and pixel shaders in hardware

SMOOTHVISION? 2.1

  • State-of-the-art full-scene anti-aliasing
  • Enhances image quality by eliminating jagged edges and bringing out fine texture detail, without compromising performance

HYPER Z? III+

  • Hierarchical Z-Buffer and Early Z Test reduce overdraw by detecting and discarding hidden pixels
  • Bandwidth-conserving technology removes a key performance bottleneck and provides end users with faster graphics performance

TRUFORM? 2.0

  • 2nd generation N-patch higher order surface support
  • Improves the appearance and realism of 3D characters, objects, and images to provide a smoother, more natural look

DISPLAY FEATURES

  • Dual integrated display controllers
  • Drive two displays simultaneously with independent resolutions and refresh rates
  • HYDRAVISION? software provides complete control over multi-display configurations with a user-friendly interface
  • Dual integrated 10-bit per channel palette DACs operating at up to 400MHz
  • Integrated DVI-compliant 165MHz TMDS transmitter supports resolutions up to WUXGA (1920x1200) Integrated TV-Out support up to 1024x768 resolution

VIDEO FEATURES

  • VIDEO IMMERSION? II delivers industry-leading video playback

  • FULLSTREAM? Hardware accelerated de-blocking of Internet video streams

  • Integrated MPEG-2 decode including iDCT and motion compensation:

  • All format DTV/HDTV decode

  • Top quality DVD with lowest CPU usage

  • YUV to RGB color space conversion

  • Back-end scaler delivers top quality playback
  • 4-tap horizontal and vertical filtering
  • Upscaling and downscaling
  • Filtered display of images up to 1920 pixels wide
  • Unique per-pixel adaptive de-interlacing feature combines the best elements of the ?bob? and ?add-field? (weave) techniques
  • Hardware mirroring for flipping video images in video conferencing systems
  • Supports 8-bit alpha blending and video keying for effective overlay of video and graphics

GENERAL FEATURES

  • Comprehensive 2X and 4X AGP support
  • Compatible with AGP 8X universal motherboards
  • High performance dual-channel 128-bit DDR memory interface supports 64/128MB configurations
  • Fully compliant with PC 2002 requirements
  • Optimized for Pentium4 SSE2 and AMD Athlon? 3Dnow! processor instructions
  • Supports optional THEATER? 200 companion chip for NTSC/PAL/ SECAM video capture
  • Highly optimized 128-bit 2D engine with support for new WindowsXP GDI extensions

HOME ENTERTAINMENT FEATURES

  • Stereo TV tuner with 125 channels

  • TV-ON-DEMAND? records programs on your hard drive, pauses live TV and resumes broadcasts on your schedule

  • Gemstar GUIDE Plus+? provides interactive programming guides to select, schedule and record favorite shows

  • MULTIMEDIA CENTER? 8.5, industry leading suite of integrated multimedia applications

  • ATI?s new EAZYLOOK?? remote control user interface

  • Radio frequency wireless remote adds the flexibility of a hand held, 30 foot user interface

  • Video capture and editing including DVD and VideoCD Authoring

  • THRUVIEW? creates live, translucent TV, video and DVD windows for easy desktop access

  • MulTView? enables dual TV tuner capabilities including Picture-in-Picture and independent channel surfing*

  • THEATER? 200 video decoder and stereo audio processor with S/PDIF output

  • Component Video output via a YPrPb adapter (Adapter Included)

ALSO INCLUDED

  • Remote Wonder RF USB Interface RF Transmitter and Remote Control

  • YPrPb Component Output dongle

  • Multimedia Center version 8.5


 
 

Those of you that are familiar with the specifications of a Radeon 9800 Pro, will note there is no difference, in terms of 3D Graphics specifications, between this card and a 128MB Radeon 9800 Pro.  The average Radeon card is already equipped with an s-video output connector, so all ATi had to do was drop in a TV Tuner with Cable input and S-Video in.  Additionally ATi's Theater 200 chip (backside of the card) provides full audio and video capture from NTSC, PAL and SECAM source inputs.  However, even though ATi has integrated all these features into a single board design, you're probably surprised to see in the picture above, that the card is actually slightly smaller than a standard Radeon 9800 Pro reference board.  One notable difference, other than the TV Tuner section, is that ATi went back to the 4 pin Floppy Power Connector on the AIW 9800 Pro, versus the 4 pin standard molex connector found on an R9800 Pro. 

Finally, the All-In-Wonder Radeon 9800 Pro only comes equipped with a single DVI Monitor output, which also supports standard VGA D-Sub, with an included DVI to D-Sub converter.  You can drive TV output simultaneously to DVI or VGA but there is no ability to drive two PC monitors with the All-In-Wonder R9800 Pro, since ATi had to remove the second monitor output to fit the Tuner and s-video input connectors on the back-plate.  So, maybe you can't exactly have it "all" with the AIW R9800 Pro but you certainly get plenty of Multimedia horsepower and the laws of physics and geometry preclude getting any additional connectors on that back-plate.

A Closer Look And The Remote Wonder

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ATI AllInWonder RADEON 9800 Pro - Page 2

 

ATi's All-In-Wonder 9800 Pro
When You've Got To Have It All

By: Dave Atlavilla
June 9, 2003

 

The Card and The Bundle
Pristine Layout, Solid Quality and Lots Of Extras

As we noted earlier, the layout on this card is super tight.  The heatsink is a different shape than that which is found on a Radeon 9800 Pro but the surface area is comparable.  It does a decent job of cooling the VPU, however, we found our card to run pretty hot over all.  Although the heat is not excessive, the TV Tuner section on this card also adds a fair amount of warmth to the overall assembly.  Regardless, we found our card ran very stable within spec and actually overclocked respectably as well.  We hit a stable 415MHz Core and 710MHz Memory speed, without lock-ups or artifacts.

   
   
   

The included bundle ATi provides with this card, offers all you'll need to take advantage of the card's capabilities and then some.  Included are full release copies of Morrowind Elder Scrolls, a fantastic looking game from Bethesda Softworks (screen shots coming up!), as well as Matchware Mediator 7 and Pinnacle Studio 8, an excellent video editing package.  The purple colored break-out box and associated cabling ATi packs in with the AIW R9800 Pro, allows for S-Video and Composite Video and Audio input, for capture in the card's on board "Theater 200" video controller.  This setup gave us the ability to easily take an S-Video output from our Digital Camcorder (or any other video device) and capture MPEG or MPEG2 movies on our system, with a wide array of quality levels ranging all the way up to DVD quality 720X480 capture.  Of course you can also capture direct from the TV Tuner signal as well.

The Remote Wonder
The Right Way To Run The Clicker

ATi's "Remote Wonder" has been shipping with many of their All In Wonder solutions for a long time now.  It is easily the most powerful, longest range remote control solution for the PC currently, that money can buy.  We've showcased this device in several other All-In-Wonder articles here at HotHardware but for those who have missed our coverage, this remote is not like any you have ever used before, most likely.  The Remote Wonder is an RF (Radio Frequency) remote and as such, does not need to have a "line of site" to its companion USB transmitter (pictured above).  With a range of about 30 feet, this remote works through walls and the transmitter can be easily tossed behind your PC case, out of site, yet still function perfectly.

   

The Remote Wonder's software suite also includes mouse functionality, for full control of your desktop.  This function alone allows you to convert your PC into a true multi-functional and Multimedia device.  A PC with this installation can be operated from the comfort and convenience of your living room sofa, as you surf the web, play DVDs, and music.  Add to this a companion cordless mouse and keyboard and you'll be completely cable free.  Finally, there are a number of plug-ins available for popular Music, Video and Multimedia players, that can be installed for use with the Remote Wonder.  WinAmp, Windows Media Player and PowerDVD are just a few of the third party applications that have Remote Wonder plug-ins available.  You can take a spin by the Remote Wonder site, for a list of all plug-ins currently available.

 

Multimedia Center 8.5, EasyLook and Bundled Software

 

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ATI AllInWonder RADEON 9800 Pro - Page 3

 

ATi's All-In-Wonder 9800 Pro
When You've Got To Have It All

By: Dave Atlavilla
June 9, 2003

 

 

With each new 3D Graphics Card launch, we like to give readers a taste of leading edge game play, with some of the most current titles out on the market.  So, we fired up 4X AA and 8X Aniso Filtering with our new All-In-Wonder Radeon 9800 Pro and proceeded to jack into the worlds of "Morrowind" and "Enter The Matrix".

Eye Candy - In Game Footage
Morrowwind and Enter The Matrix

Bethesda Softworks - Morrowind
(Bundled in with this card)

 

ATi bundles in Morrowind with the All-In-Wonder Radeon 9800 Pro.  Gamers will really enjoy this new role playing adventure series.  Its landscapes and texture rich environments are colorful, lush and complex.  Also, even at high 1280X960 resolutions with 4X AA and 8X Anisotropic Filtering enabled, the game remains smooth and fluid on the All-In-Wonder Radeon 9800 Pro.

 

Infogrames - Enter The Matrix

   

Although Enter The Matrix is NOT a bundled title with the All-In-Wonder Radeon 9800 Pro, we thought it would be nice to show you high res, high IQ action gaming at its best in this new first person shooter.  Actually, you can play in first and third person mode but with all of the cool Martial Arts havoc your character can wield, we're pretty sure you'll opt for third person mode as we did.  Once again, when the resolution and image quality is cranked high, the new All-In-Wonder Radeon 9800 Pro handles the Matrix like they say in the movie, "right as rain".

Benchmarks anyone?

HotHardware Test Systems
Pentium 4 Canterwood Infused


Our test system was based on a common Motherboard and CPU configuration, with three different Graphics Cards involved at various points in testing.  We ran the All In Wonder Radeon 9800 Pro side by side with a GeForce FX 5900 Ultra and in a few of our tests, added a 256MB Radeon 9800 Pro to the mix.  Since performance of an All In Wonder Radeon 9800 Pro will be virtually identical to a standard Radeon 9800 Pro, we felt it was a more relative metric to also include ATi's top Enthusiast Gaming card, which is the 256MB variant. 

 

 

ATI All-in-Wonder 9800 Pro

ATi Radeon 9800 Pro 256MB
Catalyst Drivers Version 3.4

 

NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 Ultra

Detonator FX 44.03 Drivers

 

Pentium 4 3GHz - 800MHz FSB

Abit IC7-G Canterwood Motherboard
512MB PC3500 Kingston HyperX DDR DRAM

120GB Seagate Barracuda V SATA Hard Disk

Windows XP Pro SP-1

DirectX 9.0a

 


 

Unfortunately, this may be the last time you see 3DMark scores here at HotHardware.com, at least until NVIDIA and FutureMark get the mess they created sorted out.  There is no shortage of opinions on the topic these days, so we won't bore you with another editorial before we serve up the benchmark scores.  We're only going to provide scores for 3DMark 2001 SE (version 330) in this article and frankly we're not all that convinced that the scores with this test are all that valid as well.
 

3DMark 2001 SE Version 330
Direct X Benchmarking

 

 

Both the AIW Radeon 9800 Pro and the GFFX 5900 Ultra are neck and neck here,  without AA enabled.  In fact, the AIW R9800 Pro bests the NVIDIA card by a hair.  However, with 4X AA enabled, NVIDIA's fill rate advantage takes over a bit and pulls ahead of the All In Wonder Radeon 9800 Pro.  We'll talk more about the GFFX 5900's AA performance, in the pages ahead.  There's more to the story than just raw numbers.  Let's move out for now.

Quake 3 Arena and Serious Sam

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ATI AllInWonder RADEON 9800 Pro - Page 4

 

ATi's All-In-Wonder 9800 Pro
When You've Got To Have It All

By: Dave Atlavilla
June 9, 2003

 

 

Quake 3 "Four" Time Demo
Aging OpenGL Testing

In terms of simple raw fill rate metrics, Quake 3 Arena time demos are still a good measure of performance.  We ran the cards in our test through only the highest resolutions and then enabled AA and Aniso Filtering.  Here are the results and they may surprise you.

At 1280X1024 resolution Quake 3 is hardly working either card all that rigorously, until you enable AA and Aniso Filtering.  Then something surprising happens.  The AIW R9800 Pro pulls ahead of the GeForce FX 5900 Ultra by over 12 frames per second, with 4X AA and 8X Anisotropic Filtering enabled.  Again, NVIDIA's Aniso engine certainly isn't as efficient as ATi's.  However, when fill rate becomes the limiting factor at 1600X1200 resolution, the GeForce FX 5900 UItra takes the lead again. 

Getting Serious With Sam
OpenGL Gaming - Serious Sam, The Second Encounter

Continuing in the OpenGL vein, we have Serious Sam "Little Trouble" time demos for you.  We utilized Beyond 3D's Max Quality scripts to level the playing field for image quality but disabling Anisotropic Filtering in this test.

Oddly enough, we see the inverse of our Quake 3 results, here with Serious Sam.  At a lower resolution of 1024X768, the GeForce FX 5900 Ultra drops in a 10 - 15 fps advantage over the AIW Radeon 9800 Pro.  However, at 1600X1200 the cards are in a virtual dead heat without AA and the race is much closer even with AA enabled.  These aging game engines are rather one dimensional however, there's fill rate and oh yes, fill rate to consider.  Let's look at some benchmarks with a little more pixel shader action going on.

Unreal Tournament 2003

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ATI AllInWonder RADEON 9800 Pro - Page 5

 

ATi's All-In-Wonder 9800 Pro
When You've Got To Have It All

By: Dave Atlavilla
June 9, 2003

 

Unreal Tournament 2003
Direct X 8 Gaming Performance

In our previous articles, we chose the Antalus map in Unreal Tournament 2003, for testing and reference score purposes.  This time we've chosen the Citadel map, for a change of pace and to see if we could shake up the field a bit.  We also added our 256MB Radeon 9800 Pro to this round, just for good measure.

 

As we came to find out, when we changed the landscape in this test we really "changed the landscape".  That is to say, that our little change in map scenery also changed the benchmark score scenery a bit as well, versus what we had seen in previous UT2003 testing.  The AIW R9800 Pro hangs tough with the GFFX 5900 Ultra, until you enable AA and Aniso.  The 256MB Radeon 9800 Pro gains a bit overall with its extra frame buffer memory but the differential versus the All-In-Wonder is negligible. 

 


And then fill rate takes hold of the equation again with the GeForce FX 5900 Ultra.  However, we've said this before and we'll say it again here.  In our humble opinion NVIDIA's AA is not as crisp, setting for setting, versus ATi's.  This is a subjective thing of course but we've looked at literally hundreds of screenshots and spent ours with in-game testing.  ATi's IQ is better and therefore it is our opinion that they are doing "more work" with respect to rendering scenes with Full Scene Anti-Aliasing.  On the other hand, slice this up however you like.  For some folks, frame rate is always king.

Splinter Cell And The Rating

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ATI AllInWonder RADEON 9800 Pro - Page 6

 

ATi's All-In-Wonder 9800 Pro
When You've Got To Have It All

By: Dave Atlavilla
June 9, 2003

 

Splinter Cell
AA Not Enabled For Proper Comparison

Before we dig into this last round of testing, we should give you a little background on our methodology with Splinter Cell as a benchmark.  Although Splinter Cell is an impressive game engine graphically, it is a bit rough around the edges as a benchmark, in the proper sense.  Recently, certain on line publications have tested with this benchmark and enabled AA while running their tests.  What you should know is that, at this point in time, AA, for all intents and purposes is broken with Splinter Cell.  ATi's drivers enable AA but there are artifacts that result.  NVIDIA's drivers simply turn OFF AA, rather than render an anomaly.  As a result, if you are comparing AA enabled scores with Splinter Cell, you are comparing one card doing the work of processing AA and one card, in NVIDIA's case, not doing it at all.

In our Splinter Cell benchmarks here, we once again used the handiwork of our friends at Beyond 3D, with their "Oil Rig" Demo test and benchmark script.  We ran the following tests without AA enabled but we did run a set of numbers with Ansio Filtering enabled as well.

GeForce FX 5900 Ultra
Rendering Artifact

Furthermore, NVIDIA still has a bug in their drivers with respect to the pixel shader effect that is used to render the water in this scene.  Take a look at the screen shot above.  See the flat areas in the water?  Last we checked, when water ripples from wind or current, large areas don't go completely flat calm at random.  This anomaly is not present with ATi's cards and the water effects look normal without the dropping shader issues that NVIDIA has.  So, again we're not quite sure what NVIDIA's card is doing in this test but we'll provide you the scores as is and you can take them for face value.


The Oil Rig demo that Beyond 3D created is heavily dependant on Pixel Shader performance to render the ocean water areas around the Oil Rig.  As you can see here, both the AIW Radeon 9800 Pro and the 256MB Radeon 9800 Pro overtake the GeForce FX 5900 Ultra handily in this test.  This is very surprising, since Splinter Cell was ported over from the X-Box, which we all know has an NVIDIA GPU inside.  One would think that this benchmark would lean more toward the GeForce FX 5900 Ultra but it certainly does not.  Also, you'll note that the All-In-Wonder Radeon 9800 Pro is right on top of the 256MB Radeon 9800 Pro in this test. 

We're more than impressed with this new soup-to-nuts solution from ATi.  Let's re-cap.

 

ATi's new All-In-Wonder Radeon 9800 Pro delivers on just about every level you could want, as an Enthusiast Gamer, Multimedia and TV solution.  Its TV, Video Capture and Editing capabilities are expansive and its processing quality is top notch.  The Remote Wonder, along with ATi's Multimedia Center 8.5 and EASYLOOK make TV, DVD and Multimedia playback a pleasure, as it should be.  The cinematic capabilities of this card are second to none on the market, although we hear NVIDIA's Personal Cinema 2 is around the corner.  However, when you consider ATi integrates all this functionality on to one neat and clean AGP card, you really have to consider that the All-In-Wonder family of products is unique and unchallenged, in terms of overall design, ease of installation and use.  There are many aspects of the All-In-Wonder Radeon 9800 Pro that really put it in a class by itself.

If you are hell-bent on the highest frame rates and image quality, the All-In-Wonder Radeon 9800 Pro won't leave you flat either.  As we have shown you here, the card competes head to head with the best of what NVIDIA has to offer, losing by a small margin in some tests and winning by a small margin in others.  The next thing we can consider is cost.  This new All-In-Wonder will most likely retail for $499, which we know may leave some of you wincing a bit.  However, when you consider you're getting a $449 3D Graphics card, $79 - $99 TV Tuner Card, RF Remote, and several hundred dollars of bundled application software and games, the numbers add up justifiably.  In the end this is a card for the enthusiast that wants it all and isn't afraid to pay for it. 

This is one fantastic Graphics/TV Tuner Card that ATi put together and we're happy to give it a Hot Hardware Heat Meter rating of:



 

Our Editor's Choice Awards is rarely given out and only when a product garners the praise of several of our team members here at Hot Hardware, as a product they would personally use in their own systems.  ATi's All-In-Wonder Radeon 9800 Pro earns every bit of this distinction with our staff.

 

HotHardware's PC Hardware Forum, Get Your Game On!

 

 

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