ATI All-In-Wonder RADEON 9700 Review

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ATI AllInWonder RADEON 9700 Review - Page 6

 

ATI All In Wonder 9700 Pro Review
The Fastest 3D in a Multimedia Package

By: Chris Angelini
November 4th, 2002

Unreal Tournament 2003 Demo
The Final Say-So

The RADEON 9700 dominates once again, demonstrating a 34% advantage over the GeForce4 Ti 4600 at 1600x1200 (Flyby) and a 50% lead over the prior generation All In Wonder RADEON 8500.

Number Seven - Bringing it Together with MMC 8.0
The Final Link

One of the most important factors in making the All In Wonder successful is the software that brings together each hardware subsystem.  We've already looked at the TV and DVD software, but the software suite also consists of a File Player, a CD Player and a VCD Player.

There is also a Multimedia Center Library, which helps manage media files.  It also recommends files for deletion, depending on the filtering method you choose. 

Though not related to the Multimedia Center, ATI bundles a specially modified version of Pinnacle Studio 8, for creating and editing video.  The All In Wonder has the ability to run a video stream through the 3D pipeline, adding transitions and effects with pixel shaders.  However, this capability won't be exposed until DirectX 9 is release.  Also included in the package is Matchware Mediator 7 and Morrowind - The Elder Scrolls III.



Compatibility
Can't We All Just Get Along?

Seeing as one of the All in Wonder RADEON 9700 Pro?s features is AGP 8x compliance, we first tested the card in a SiS 648 platform.  Time after time, a 3D benchmark would start, only to lock or spontaneously reboot the system.  More than one All in Wonder card demonstrated similar behavior in more than one SiS 648 motherboard (with different power supplies), so we?d safely say that there is still a problem plaguing that combination of hardware.

Just to be safe, we also tested motherboards based on Intel?s i850 and i845 families with no incident.   VIA?s KT400 and P4X400 chipsets performed similarly ? it seems to be a problem limited to SiS and ATI. 

Overclocking
When 'Stock' Just Isn't Enough

It would seem that the R300 chip is a bad candidate for overclocking.  To begin with, at 110 million transistors, it is extremely complex.  And considering the die is manufactured on a .15-micron process, it is extremely large.  ATI is already operating the board at an aggressive 325MHz ? more than many skeptics believed was possible.  However, we were still able to pull an extra 25MHz from the core before it demonstrated signs of instability.  Similarly, the memory modules were also good for an additional 25MHz DDR (50MHz effective), resulting in an overclocked frequency of 350/335MHz.


 

The idea behind the ?home-theater PC? is as exciting now as it was back in 2000 with introduction of the first the All in Wonder RADEON.  In fact, with the advent of High Definition television and wireless networking it has become even easier to integrate a PC into the traditional home theater rack with full broadband connectivity.  The All in Wonder RADEON 9700 takes this concept one step further by offering TV-ON-DEMAND, GemStar?s programming guide, support for component output, DVD decoding, the most complete 3D feature-set on the market (along with the most impressive performance), and finally, the Remote Wonder, every couch-potato?s dream. 

The card isn?t without flaw, though.  Most high-end cards now include the option for a second display, through either a DVI-I port or another 15-pin VGA connector.  Unfortunately, the All in Wonder RADEON 9700 Pro only supports one display.  ATI simply ran out of room on the card?s back plate.  Secondly, while AGP 8x is understandably in its infancy, general incompatibility with multiple SiS 648-based motherboards is a little harder to understand. 

Even still, this has been a stellar year for ATI and the success will likely continue with the All in Wonder RADEON 9700 Pro.  The card will feature a suggested retail price of $449 (ATI anticipates the board will be found for around $400 from online retailers), just $50 more than the RADEON 9700 Pro.  Put into perspective, the card includes a $50 Remote Wonder, a $30 component output adapter, and several software titles ? we haven?t even taken the multimedia features of the card into consideration and already, the All in Wonder RADEON 9700 Pro seems like a better ?value? than the RADEON 9700 Pro.  In the words of Ferris Bueller, ?It?s so choice, I highly recommend picking one up, if you have the means.?



 

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Tags:  ATI, Radeon, review, view, IE

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