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ATI Radeon 9600 Mac/PC Edition Compatibility Notes
Last Updated: 5/23/2006 (Digital Audio owner report on cleaning contacts)



In April 2006 a reader sent a note he had no video at boot with his new retail Radeon 9600 Mac/PC Edition in a Quicksilver Mac. (Not uncommon, see bottom of page for links to fall 2005 news posts on this issue) and that ATI's support site had a new tech note on the 9600 Mac/PC edition saying the Digital Audio and Quicksilver/Quicksilver 2002 models were no longer supported. (When the 9600 Mac/PC edition first shipped last fall, several readers reported the same 'no video' problem. One QS owner said after repeatedly reseating the card it worked, some others said a replacement worked, but not all. I asked the latest reader with the problem if he tried reseating and all the usual tricks, even tried the contact mod for OEM 8x AGP cards in 4x Macs - no help he said.)
Here's a copy of the ATI tech note. (ATI's support site doesn't allow direct links to the doc - you have to have a cookie set at the main support page first but you can find the doc by entering "737-21888" in the search field on the main support page.)

" 737-21888: No Display using Radeon 9600 PRO PC & MAC Edition in the "Quicksilver", "Quicksilver 2002" and "Digital Audio" Power Mac G4 models

The information in this article applies to the following configurations:
- Radeon(r) 9600 PRO PC & MAC Edition
- "Quicksilver" Power Mac G4 model
- "Quicksilver 2002" Power Mac G4 model
- "Digital Audio" Power Mac G4 model

The Radeon 9600 Mac & PC Edition is not compatible with the "Quicksilver", "Quicksilver 2002" or the "Digital Audio" PowerMac G4. If a Radeon 9600 Mac & PC Edition board is installed in one of these systems the result is a blank display.
For assistance in differentiating Power Mac G4 models, please refer to Apple Article 58418 "

I know OWC had sold a lot of the cards so I wrote them asking what their experience/return rates were lately for the card with those Mac models and also wrote ATI to ask for more details on the problem.
Here's OWC's reply (ATI's replies are below)

" Since learning of ATI's April tech note regarding the Radeon 9600 256MB Retail model, OWC has spent a significant of time testing these in the Quicksilver and Digital Audio G4s - as well as in a MDD G4 control.

Based on our customer data - the problem with Quicksilver and Digital Audio systems is something new and recent. It's been since later in March that a higher return request rate has been noted. Further - testing those returned cards with the problem reported, we've confirmed that they fail in both Digital Audio and Quicksilver, but work fine in the Mirrored Drive Door machine.

We have not identified any particular serial number range, but testing with off the shelf cards found this problem was NOT something that occurred with ALL of the cards. So - we suspect ATI unwittingly changed a component or even a supplier where some 'equal' component isn't quite equal and that has resulted in this new, sudden compatibility issue.

That said - in line with ATI's current supported models information, OWC is now mirroring this and will only support/sell this ATI Model in the MDD G4 and AGP G5 systems.

Of further interest.... For over a year now, we've been offering Apple OEM ATI Radeon 9600 Video Cards w/64MBs modified for use on PowerMac G4s:
http://eshop.macsales.com/Search/Search.cfm?Criteria=radeon+oem&Manufacturer=&x=0&y=0

In our own experience - we have found that while the majority work without issue in all 4X AGP equipped PowerMac G4 models (Digital Audio, QuickSilvers, and Mirrored Drive Door), there is a small percentage that we also find to ONLY operate in the MDD G4. Physically there is no difference between the cards that do and the cards that don't - and no serial number or difference in Rom on the cards to tie this to. The only way to know is to do the actual testing in the machines, which we do on EVERY card we modify. As there is no in between they either work in QuickSilver/Digital Audio or they don't - this adds more support to the possibility there is some component variation that impacts this compatibility.

It's truly disappointing for ATI to have allowed this problem and I hope they realize that G5 and MDD owners make up just a tiny sliver of 256MB 9600 Retail sales as well. Up till now, that's been a decent upgrade for the 4X AGP slot Macs and the only option for those wanting to drive a Dual-Link 30" LCD with a PowerMac G4. I do hope ATI takes a closer look at this and determines a solution. If they contact us - be more than happy to let them look at some of our Apple OEM modified cards so maybe they can find out what the difference is what we've got and their retail card.
Hope this helps the XLR8yourMac readers. Thanks!
Best Regards,
Lawrence R. O'Connor
Other World Computing "

Here's the reply(s) from an ATI contact about the problem:

" Hi Mike, Some of the early reports we got led us down some blind alleys where we could not reproduce the problems. For example we thought, for a while that the card may not have been seated properly in the socket and that poor electical contact may have been to blame. It was somewhat challenging due to the common brand name of the many the Power Mac G4 systems Apple released over the years.

In the identified systems, such as "Quicksilver 2002", we eventually found some anomalous behavior where Apple's core logic drops the AGP bus speed down to 33MHz instead of 66MHz, which is what our card requires to operate. The result is that no video is output to the display when running this type of system.

We're analysing ways to get around this issue but other than Apple doing a firmware revision in these discontinued systems, which is not likely, our solutions seem to involve some sort of hardware change.

Thus for the time being we are simply alerting customers that those systems are not supported. Customers unable to get a video signal on a card they have already purchased should contact our support centre as per the warranty.

(Any idea why the retail Mac/PC 9600 is prone to this where other cards like the 9800 isn't?
And you saw the same clock issue with digital audio and 2001 QS models? (I had at least one QS owner that said he eventually got it going after several re-seats - and some said a replacement card worked but not all)
At first I also thought it was a contact issue but card checks showed the board thickness was within spec (and similar to other cards that worked in the same system)-Mike
)

There's a particular electrical interaction between the Radeon 9600 PRO GPU and the specific core logic chipset on those specific systems that results in the previously mentioned unanticipated behaviour where the bus speed drops down to 33MHz. This characteristic is not present in other ATI GPU's like the 9800. It is not a logic or computational bug. Rather, it is an electical sensitivity that can be less present in some boards but is common enough that we need to consider those systems unsupported. That might explain why some users could successfully overcome the issue after repeated attempts.

We've got a lab where prior to releasing a product we extensively test these sorts of things across a full range of older systems but we do not have so many of each configuration that we get a full statistical distribution for every Apple's PMG4 model ever produced. To address that limitation we expanded the universe of our testing sample to include beta testers but even with those additional resources this particular problem escaped us for a long time and we're pretty unhappy about it.
I hope this helps. "

Latest Reader Reports: (most recent first)

(added 5/23/2006)
"First, many thanks for your great site which has just saved me and my client a lot of money and hassle. I'm an Apple reseller. Brief facts of the case:

1. Client lives in Photoshop, using old G4/400 with 21" monitor. Wants to buy and use Apple 30" -- asks me if he can use one with his current machine. "Possibly" I answer, and off I go to check what graphics card he'll need. As it turns out, there's only one, and the ATi 9600 Pro. I check with ATi to see if it works at AGP 2x as in my client's machine, and ATi take a week to tell me "not supported -- you need 4x AGP minimum".

2. Obtained from eBay a G4/466 with 4x AGP -- (serious budgetary constaints, so I figure we can just swap the client's RAM & internal HDs over to it), for less than the cost of the 9600 Pro. Waited 6 goddam weeks for Apple to ship the 30" display. Finally it arrives. I assemble everything in the workshop, install the 9600 Pro, and boot the machine. No video, of course -- with either the Apple 30" or an Acer 15" which was lying around -- which worked fine with the factory-installed G4 OEM card.

3. With awful visions of having to refund the cost of an Apple 30" / 9600 Pro combo, and therefore tearing out hair and mumbling, I updated ATi drivers, zapped P-RAM, reset Open Firmware, sacrificed goats, you name it -- nothing. Not even a flicker -- not one blink of video.

4. Desparately googled "ATi 9600 pro mac problem", and your site popped up. Read the whole sorry saga with mounting dread. Then, (and facing east the whole while), I removed the card and reseated it 20 times, finally pressing it home with sufficient force to make blood vessels stand out. Connected up and booted -- still nothing, just that stubborn orange light on the Acer monitor.

5. Then I saw those strange little paragraphs about contact cleaning with an eraser, and the one from the MDD user who installed the card loosely without the screw. (he's referring to posts from 2005 in the news page - see links at bottom of page below.-Mike) At this point, anything was worth a try, so I pulled the card, and cleaned the contacts both sides with an eraser solidly for 5 minutes. They were very shiny when I'd finished! I then wiped them with a cloth moistened with Zippo fuel, and reinstalled the card without the screw, connected the monitor, and booted the Mac with the case open so the card could be wiggled if required.

Hallelujah -- it worked!! The monitor image was mostly in shades of pink, but it worked. I wiggled the card a bit, and the image repeatedly came and went. Then I put the screw in, and the colours came back. I connected the Apple 30" to the other DVI port, and that worked too. It's now solid, perfect and very quick.

Don't forget that this machine isn't even a QuickSilver -- it's an old AGP 4x 466mhz G4, (that's the digital audio model - originally the card was listed as compatible with any 4x AGP mac or better (Digital Audio, Quicksilver, MDD, etc.) but as mentioned above ATI has now revised that to exclude the Digital Audio and Quicksilvers)-Mike) and it didn't want to work with the 9600 Pro. But clearly these cards (1) ship with something unpredictable spread all over the contacts which is an excellent insulator and needs to be removed, and (2) in an older machine, the AGP slot itself will have had a pile of dust blown at it by the PSU fan for years, so that needs to brushed out too. I suspect that physical contact is probably the bulk of the problem, and the technical smokescreen given by the ATi tech you interviewed is not often the cause.
Thanks again -- my day is made!
Best,
Mark J.
SBC systems (UK) "

I can't promise that this will work for everyone but originally a contact issue was suspected, although ATI's comments above dispute that.


(from 4/19/2006 mail)
"I just recently acquired an 800MHz Quicksilver G4 (single processor). It's working pretty well under Mac OS X 10.4.6, but I wanted a little more oomph out of the video subsystem...so I called the local computer dealer, who told me they had the ATI Radeon 9600 Mac/PC edition on closeout. That sounded like a good deal to me.

Well, if only I'd have thought to read your site first...I wouldn't have chosen that card.

I've reseated it who-knows-how many times already and there's been no improvement. I tried zapping the PRAM a few times. As a desperate last resort, I did try the suggestion on your site to push *hard* until the card clicked into place, but that didn't work either. By that point, I was pushing on the card so hard that I thought it or the logic board might break, so I gave up and put the original ATI card back into place. My computer's video came right back after that.
So...here's another report of the card not working, for whatever it might be worth.
-William W. "


This Digital Audio owner reported the card worked, although using an ADC/DVI adapter lost the ability to power on the system via the Monitor.

(from 4/14/2006 mail)
"I just purchased (yesterday) the ati 9600 and installed it on my G4/Digital Audio machine. I have one gig of ram and an encore 1.8 mhz upgrade card. I am running os X 10.4.6. I am using an Apple 17 inch flat panel lcd and had to purchase a DVI to ADC adapter to connect it to my machine.... I installed it in the AGP slot replacing the video card that came with the computer.
It works but I can't start my machine from the monitor anymore. I have to use the start button on my computer. When I purchased the card, I asked if there was any problem with it working on my machine and MacMall said there wasn't any reported problems and that it should work. Your article on your web site was the first I heard of a problem. If it is working now, do you know of anyone who developed a problem after installing it and having it work for a period of time? Thanks and I'll look forward to your response.
-Ray "

I think the display power button issue is due to the ADC/DVI adapter.


A G5 owner report on the card not working:

(from mail)
"I have wasted a number of hours over the past week trying to get this card to work in a PowerMac G5 2x2gB (quite late 2004). I have had the same symptoms as described by everyone else so the problem is not confined to the G4 Quicksilver. The Mac would hang part way though start up with a blue screen. Zapping PRAM, reseating card etc. had no effect, except that I did get it to work briefly after I downloaded the latest driver from ATI's website. However the card would cease working every time I shut down and restarted. I managed to coax it back into action with several more PRAM resets etc. twice after this, but then it refused to work at all and it is now on its way back to the supplier. It's a pity as, for the brief period that it worked, it was an excellent card (and speeded up Google Earth considerably!).

(I suggested he get the card replaced under warranty and he later wrote-Mike)
You might be interested to know that I am now trying the replacement 9600 Card and it is exhibiting the same symptoms as before. The G5 refuses to start up unless I reset the PRAM each time (last time it stopped responding at all after 5 or 6 PRAM resets.)
(he later wrote)
The replacement card also refused to work in my G5 at home but works perfectly in my identical G5 at work! I've given up trying to work that one out.
Regards, Ken"

I'd ask for a refund then.


(from 4/4/2006 mail)
"Mike, Just had a bad experiece with trying to get an ATI 9600 Pro Mac/PC Edition to work in a Quicksilver 2002 model. Most sites (www.macsales.com) advertise it to work in the machine, but no such luck on my attempts. (it was originally listed as compatible with any 4x AGP Mac (Digital Audio, Quicksilver, MDD) and above - but see notes above from ATI and OWC has since revised their info based on ATI's latest comments.-Mike) That is when I went to the ATI site to find this:

    737-21888: No Display using Radeon 9600 PRO PC & MAC Edition in the "Quicksilver", "Quicksilver 2002" and "Digital Audio" Power Mac G4 models
    The information in this article applies to the following configurations:
    Radeon 9600 PRO PC & MAC Edition
    "Quicksilver" Power Mac G4 model
    "Quicksilver 2002" Power Mac G4 model
    "Digital Audio" Power Mac G4 model
    The Radeon 9600 Mac & PC Edition is not compatible with the "Quicksilver", "Quicksilver 2002" or the "Digital Audio" PowerMac G4. If a Radeon 9600 Mac & PC Edition board is installed in one of these systems the result is a blank display. For assistance in differentiating Power Mac G4 models, please refer to Apple Article 58418

So anyway, thought I would let others know that this card appears not to work in my machine unless you have any other ideas. Was thinking maybe the card is trying to go into 8X AGP mode and the QS can only do 4X???
Tried the tape thing tonight (mod for 8x agp cards to run in 4x AGP macs, but should not be required to use this card) and still nothing. Reseated like 4 times and still nothing...even tried without the screw to see if that pulled it out when tightened down. Not sure what to think. I might send it to my bro. He has a MDD and will see if that works. Let me know if ATI has anything to say. (see their comments above-Mike) Thanks again for your help.
Thanks, Mark G "

I wrote Mark to mention the posts from fall 2005 (see below) on problems like this which is why ATI posted the revised compatibility note. (Although some have gotten it to work, many had problems.) Mark later wrote he sold the card to his brother with a MDD or G5 system.


A Quicksilver owner report on a 2nd card working:

(from 1/6/2006 mail)
"Just before Christmas I saw you asking for feedback from anyone having experience with the new ATI 9600 Pro Mac & PC Edition 256Mb video card. I had just received mine but thought I should wait until I got a replacement. Why? My first one was DOA - not a good start. This was especially bad as I live in far flung New Zealand, so the shipping charges cost me an arm and a leg. To get a replacement, I had to stump up with another NZ$50. Ouch.

I got an RMA and I sent it back to OWC the day before I left for my Christmas holidays, and wouldn't you know it, the day after I returned the replacement arrived - a good start to round two. I am pleased to say that the second card is a good one and may I say, what a beauty it is.

It's gone into my Quicksilver 2002, 933Mhz PowerMac. Unlike a 9800 I tried a few months back, being a 9600, this requires no extra power and has no cooling fan, so is 100% silent. For me this is important. I'm not a hard core gamer, so don't own the common performance demanding 3D games. But I did get this card for one program in particular - Austin Mayer's X-Plane.

For those readers out there who don't know what this is, it's the most sophisticated flight simulator available for Mac, PC and Linux based computers. While I'd always planned on replacing the anemic stock card in the Quicksilver, I really felt the pressure to get a new card when X-Plane's Version 8 Global Scenery arrived. Prior to this my stock CPU/GPU 933MHz machine performed adequately - using the old style Version 7-based world-wide scenery. Installing Version 8 Global Scenery made my 933MHz PowerMac run like my old B&W 350 running X-Plane! It was a pretty sad situation. I must confess that I didn't hold much hope that a simple video card upgrade would change that much. I was wrong.

The 256Mb ATI 9600 Pro Mac & PC Edition either shows how poor the GeForce4MX was (severely limiting my 933MHz PowerMac) or really screams along devouring 3D data like it's candy. It's probably some of both. For those who know X-Plane, running with the stock GeForce4MX and Version 8 Global Scenery, I was limited to mid-range settings, no anti-aliasing, minimal clouds and frame rates that regularly hit the minimum of 15fps - causing the fog to roll in to maintain frame rate. With the new 9600 Pro Mac & PC Edition, I have been able to turn all settings to the maximum, us much bigger clouds, 16x anti-aliasing, and the frame rate typically hovers around 20fps. It still gets down to 15, but also now up above 25 (and in very simple areas of scenery it can reach much higher). It seems now that the computer's CPU is keeping the frame rate down below 25fps in most situations, but the video card keeps it above 15fps and allows me to turn on all the good stuff with little if any performance hit. I must add, having the visibility turned to 12 miles does help lift the frame rate somewhat. I should mention that this is for scenery outside of the USA - so no buildings are in the mix.

In other areas the card show's it's flare too, providing Core Image and smoother scrolling across the system. In the games like the few 3D demos I have, it allows higher detailed characters etc. All nice, but my CPU limits these too much now. For what I bought it for, the ATI 9600 Pro Mac & PC Edition is great, has loads of headroom, is silent and was a fair price (excluding the return shipping I had to pay for).

If you're in the market for a dual head card, don't need any video acceleration in Classic, and don't want the eye popping speeds of the newer cards (nor their prices) then this card is a good choice, and it's re-sale price will be good too as it's fully cross-platform - a neat ATI trick.
Cheers, Peter C.
New Zealand "

Unfortunately the track record of the card in DA/QS models at least isn't confidence inspiring, although not everyone had a problem in those systems.


Related Posts from 2005:
I'm sure there's other reports/mails that I missed on this but here are some 9600 Mac/PC related links on the issue from the main site news page last September:





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