Competition is a grand thing. It makes companies work harder for customer's dollars and ensures that product development will continue unabated. The situation between Intel and AMD is a great example, and consumers have enjoyed a windfall of high-performance, processors since AMD introduced their Athlon CPU. It's much the same story with ATI and NVIDIA, as each is looking to get the jump on the other, and product development schedules have been compressed beyond belief.
The release of the Radeon 9700 Pro is direct proof of this, as ATI have used their recent acquisitions (such as ArtX) to make this card a reality. When the Radeon 9700 was first introduced, all signs pointed towards a new performance champion, but before we joined in the ticker tape parade, hands-on testing was a required element. Now that we have the Radeon 9700 Pro hardware in-house and fully benchmarked, we have a much clearer view of where the new card fits into the existing hierarchy. For now, let's just say there's a new gunslinger in town, and he's known around these parts as the Radeon 9700 Pro.
Our Radeon 9700 review card matched up pretty well to what we'd seen in preview documentation. It ships at 325 MHz core and 620 MHz DDR memory speeds, and comes in one configuration: 128MB of DDR memory with VGA, DVI-I and TV-out connectors. The Radeon 9700 Pro features a red PCB, high-density BGA DDR memory, and a far more expansive heatsink-fan than we're accustomed to on an ATI card. It's still not in GeForce4 Ti-land, but still about twice the size of the HSF on a Radeon 8500.
The card is also the first we've seen to feature an external power plug since the old Voodoo5. Our review card featured a 4-pin floppy connector port, along with an extension cord adapting into the more standard Molex connectors. This isn't a big deal outside of purely aesthetic concerns, though as we found out with the Voodoo5, care should be taken when removing the card.
As we imagine you've come for the review, but will stay for the benchmarks, we'll keep this section short and sweet. In a very basic sense, the Radeon 9700 Pro doubles the specifications of current 3D video cards, by including an 8-pixel pipeline, a 256-bit DDR memory bus, quad vertex shading engines, AGP 8X, a maximum of 256-MB of card memory, and a new SMOOTHVISION 2.0 engine with edge-anti-aliasing. This is a cutting-edge card with all the next-generation features you could want, but with high-end performance for current games and applications.
If you need additional information regarding the features and specifications of the Radeon 9700, please consult our Radeon 9700 Preview. Now onto the benchmarks.