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Preview: ATI's OEM Radeon 9700 Pro AGP Graphics Card
By Mike
Published: 4/5/2003
Performance Tests vs 9000 Pro, 8500, Geforce4 Ti, and GeForce3
(Update: For performance tests of the later 9800 Pro card, see the Video topics page)

Intro/Specs | 2D Performance | 3D Performance | Game Performance

Pros: Huge boost in shader performance over previous models. Literally no performance drop even at the highest resolutions. Sharper 2D image quality than other OEM cards w/CRT displays. 128MB ram a plus for dual/large displays. Has potential with software that supports its advanced features. For the same BTO addon price as the older Geforce4 Ti model, I'd choose the 9700 Pro.

Cons: It's very frustrating that so many Mac apps/games I have are CPU bound and/or do not take advantage of the card's advanced features. I often never found the real limits of the card with a dual 1GHz G4 system. OEM model only for MDD G4s. (FYI - Not tested in OS 9.x here, but reportedly the 9700 and up GPUs will not have OS 9 driver support for 3D/OpenGL/Gaming.)

Requirements: Apple G4 MDD (Mirror Drive Door) Tower system. Retail models will have wider backward G4/AGP system support and will have an aux. power connector like the retail PC cards do, since some older AGP slot systems do not source enough current for the card. (Test System used was Dual 1GHz MDD with ATI drivers build date April 3rd, 2003.)


Although only available as a BTO option at the Apple Store, ATI was kind enough to provide an OEM Radeon 9700 Pro card for tests in a MDD Dual 1GHz G4 tower here. The photo below shows the OEM (BTO) version of the Mac Radeon 9700 Pro AGP card which features 128MB of DDR Video RAM (which I noticed has the same speed VRAM chips as used on the higher clock speed PC 9800 Pro model) and ADC (Apple Display Connector) and DVI monitor ports. The digital ports can be used with an analog (CRT) monitor using an adapter. The retail model reportedly will have DVI + VGA ports, as well as a Video out port (S-Video with composite adapter included) and will include a hard drive type power connector since some older systems AGP slots can't source enough power for the card. (PC retail 9700 pro cards have this connector also for the same reason.)

Radeon 9700 Pro OEM Photo

Specs Comparison:
Features comparison

Note: Core/Memory info in parenthesis is taken from PC model specs - Mac OEM version may have different rates.

Rather than regurgitate the info on the features of the 9700 Pro like SmoothVision anti-aliasing, VideoShader programmable pixel shaders and HyperZ(tm) III memory design here, see ATI's OEM Mac Radeon 9700 Pro product page for details.

Review Index:
This first preview compares performance of the 9700 Pro to the Geforce4 Ti, Geforce3, Radeon 9000 Pro and Radeon 8500 in a rev A Dual G4 1GHz MDD system (see below for specs). This preview is divided into the following categories:

  1. 2D Performance: 2D image quality, resolutions/refresh ates, DVD cpu cycle usage, Appleworks 100pg multi-column newsletter scroll tests and XBench 1.0 tests.

  2. 3D Performance: Lightwave 3D 7.5, CineBench 2003, ATI Shader Demos and Vertex Performance Tests. Unfortunately there's not a lot of advanced benchmarks for the Mac compared to what's available for the PC.

  3. Game Performance: Jedi Knight II (FSAA and HQ), Red Faction (FSAA), Quake3, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, and Unreal Tournament X PR3 tests. These are the games I had on-hand to test. (I should be getting a test copy of UT2003 next week.)

Test System Hardware Summary:

Details of the test systems used for this review are listed below.

  • Apple MDD Dual G4 1GHz:
  • 768MB RAM
  • OEM Seagate 80GB Hard Disk
  • Pioneer DVR-104 OEM Superdrive
  • Teac W540E CDRW (slave)
  • OS X 10.2.4 with all updates applied
  • ATI Drivers/GL version build dated April 3, 2003
  • Nvidia card tests used standard drivers/GL from 10.2.4 (the GF4ti card would not boot with the ATI drivers/GL version installed.)
  • Monitor: Sony FW-900 (24" widescreen CRT)

You can follow my preferred path through the review by continuing to the next page,
or use the links below to jump to a specific page.

Index of OEM Radeon 9700 Pro Review

Intro/Specs | 2D Performance | 3D Performance | Game Performance

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