ATI's Radeon 9700 graphics chip runs faster than anything the company's main competitor, NVidia, currently offers. With 3D applications and games finally catching up to the hardware, that actually matters again.
Our first tests of a graphics card incorporating the new chip -- ATI's $1150 Radeon 9700 Pro -- netted some impressive results. At standard resolutions, such as 1024x768 pixels and 32-bit colour, the Radeon performed on a par with boards using NVidia's GeForce4 Ti 4600 chip. In higher-resolution tests, the 9700 Pro took a commanding lead.
In our tests, for example, the Radeon delivered 139 and 102 frames per second, respectively, at resolutions of 1200x1024 and 1600x1200. Its nearest competitor, EVGA's E-GeForce4 Ti 4600, scored 100 and 70 frames per second in the same tests. The Radeon was also faster in our antialiasing tests and earned high marks for image quality.
The 9700 Pro's impressive performance derives from the 9700 graphics chip, a 325MHz processor with DirectX 9 capabilities that requires so much juice, you have to connect it to your PC's internal power supply. The board also sports 128MB of 620MHz DDR memory. Other features: dual monitor connectors (one analogue, one DVI), a TV-out port, and AGP 8X support.
Currently, the Radeon 9700 Pro is the graphics card to own if you want the best 3D speed in stunningly detailed DirectX 8 games like Unreal Tournament 2003.
The folks at NVidia aren't standing still, of course. The graphics giant is currently readying its forthcoming NV-30 chip, which is sure to challenge the Radeon 9700 for the performance lead.
Radeon 9700 Pro Expensive, but it's the fastest graphics chip out there. Price: $1150 BBF Components & Peripherals Phone: 1800 803 802 URL: www.bbf.com.au