ATi Radeon 9700Pro Full Release Review

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The ATi Radeon 9700 Pro Full Release Review
ATi Technologies Overtakes NVIDIA's Flagship GPU

By, Dave Altavilla
August 19, 2002


 

Fishtank's Aquanox is a great looking "Battle Sub" sim that really paints an amazingly detailed world for the armchair cyber-athlete.  Our man Chris Angelini grabbed this capture during a test with an Asus GeForce 4 card not long ago, just for reference.  It's a great looking game title for sure and uses many of the latest shader effects of today's modern GPUs and "VPUs", in the case of the Radeon 9700 Pro

Aquamark Benchmarks
Aquatic renderings in real time

The game engine has been updated and patched a few times since its release about a year ago.  We've utilized the latest Aquamark build here for this test and it really puts a heavy load on the graphics engines.

A 17% lead is shown here by the Radeon 9700 Pro but you know we have to turn up AA and really shake things out.

 

And that my friends, is what we call domination.  At more than 2X the performance, the Radeon 9700 Pro shows it has more than enough gas to handle this benchmark with 4X AA, while the others shudder to a crawl comparatively.

Once again, more than 2X the performance of a GeForce 4 Ti 4600 with AA on and a commanding lead at 1280X1024 without AA, the Radeon 9700 Pro continues to impress us with true next generation 3D Accelerator performance.

Game, set and match... The Radeon 9700 Pro takes no prisoners again with nearly a 39% lead at 1600X1200 without anti-aliasing.

Turn off the oven, we're done.  Let's recap what we've learned today here boys and girls.

 

First and foremost, I don't think anyone can refute that ATi is firmly in the "driver's seat" with the release of the Radeon 9700 Pro.  The benchmarks, testing and showcase that you have seen here today, clearly show that ATi's new flagship VPU is faster, more powerful and has better features and 3D quality than anything on the market, period.  This is a bold statement to make for sure but after spending some quality time with this new graphics card, we can honestly say that it is the most impressive product we have seen in a long time, from any Graphics OEM.  NVIDIA certainly has some catching up to do.  The NV30 needs to get out the door in a hurry because ATi is going to eat up market share, with the various incarnations of this product, in the weeks and months ahead.

We've shown you OpenGL and DirectX 8 testing with high resolution and with AA and Anisotropic Filtering.  In every test where graphics horsepower and fill rate was a factor, the Radeon 9700 Pro dominated the benchmarks and left the GeForce 4 in the dust.  Also, you've seen your first glimpse of 6X Gamma Corrected Anti-Aliasing with the Radeon 9700 Pro.  In our humble opinion, this is easily the best looking AA yet and it even takes the cake over scenes rendered on the Parhelia with 16X FAA.  Keep in mind that fact that the card can run any current game engine at high res with 6X AA engaged and still push silky smooth frame rates.  Finally, as we've shown you in various tests, Anisotropic Filtering is a complete free-be, costing trivial and imperceptible performance degradation at any resolution.  However, what really is going to make the Radeon 9700 Pro shine are game titles forthcoming like Doom III, that will drive DirectX 9 image complexity and quality to new levels.  Not only does the Radeon 9700 Pro have the horsepower for today's game engines, it will have the "legroom" for next generation game engines as well, making it extremely future proof.

At this point in time, it's safe to say that ATi has captured the performance and quality crown from their long time rival and market leader NVIDIA.  The NV30 is rumored to be around the corner, sometime in Q4 this year.  We'll have to wait and see what it's made of, to determine which competitor will drive the market for the next 6 months.  For now, all the lime light is on ATi.  They've earned it by delivering a product that is truly innovative and leading edge. 

We're giving the Radeon 9700 Pro a HotHardware Heat Meter rating of.

 

 - The fastest 3D Graphics Card money can buy today.
 - Fully DX9 Compliant
 - Anisotropic Filtering without performance penalty
 - 6X Gamma Corrected AA (gorgeous and fast)
 - Frame rate, frame rate, frame rate
 - Full Stream Video Smoothing
 
 - $399 price tag
 - Supplemental power connector required in most systems
 - Slow menu redraw glitch in WinXP (future driver fix?)

 

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