Power Mac G4 systems built to order from Apple’s online store customized with Radeon 9700 Pro Edition graphics cards are now shipping, according to e-mails received by MacCentral readers. What’s more, the Apple Store has changed the part description to no longer read “Available Soon,” implying that the card is immediately available for new customers.
The Radeon 9700 is one of the fastest graphics chips you can get on the Mac right now, and the card upon which it’s built has attracted the interest of Mac gamers and others looking for maximum 3D performance. It features an 8-pixel pipeline architecture, 256-bit memory interface mated to 128MB DDR RAM, and support for technologies like ATI’s “Smoothvision” full-scene anti-aliasing, “Videoshader” video processing technology, and “Smartshader 2.0” vertex and pixel shading technology.
Apple’s OEM version of the card features inputs for Apple Display Connector (ADC) technology, for easy hookups to Apple Cinema Displays. Digital Visual Interface (DVI) is also supported on the card, making it possible to connect it to a wide variety of third-party digital flat panel displays. A DVI to VGA adapter is also included, in case you need to connect the card to an older analog monitor. And because it features multiple outputs, the card also features a dual display mode that enables you to have separate desktops (or a mirrored display) on multiple monitors.
A premium card for the Macintosh commands a premium price, and this one will cost users who buy new Power Mac G4s an extra US$300 to have installed in place of the stock Radeon 9000 Pro card available on most units. Alas, you have to buy a new Power Mac G4 to get one, as the Apple Store doesn’t sell the Radeon 9700 Pro separately.
A retail version of the 9700 card packaged by ATI has yet to be formally announced, although ATI has readily admitted plans to develop one in past briefings.
In related news, ATI today announced that it’s shipping its recently announced Radeon 9800 — its new flagship desktop graphics chip, which introduces some improvements over the 9700. An ATI spokesperson told MacCentral that the company has “been getting lots of encouragement” to produce a Mac-compatible card based on the new chip design, and said that the company hopes to have a new Mac retail solution announced “in the not too distant future.”