ATI Technologies Inc. on Friday introduced the Radeon 9600 Pro PC & Mac Edition, its first AGP graphics card designed to work with both Macs and Windows-based PCs. The new card is available for a suggested retail price of US$199.
This is the first graphics card that ATI has released for both Macintosh and Windows computers. The same card will work with an AGP-equipped Mac and Windows PC out of the same box, so Mac users can simply hunt for the best price rather than relying on Mac-specific stock from an Apple parts vendor.
One size fits all
The new graphics card is compatible with both Power Mac G4 and G5 systems, and features 256MB of VRAM. It’s equipped with two Digital Visual Interface (DVI) connectors for flat panel displays. One of the DVI connectors is dual-link enabled, so the card can support an Apple 30-inch Cinema HD Display along with a smaller DVI-equipped display. ATI also includes a DVI to VGA adapter cable to connect an analog display like a CRT or less expensive LCD panel.
ATI is positioning the card at gamers and content creators looking to boost the graphical capabilities of their systems. The Radeon 9600 Pro PC & Mac Edition incorporates a graphics processor clocked at 400MHz that features four pixel pipes and two vertex pipes, a 1.5 billion pixel per second fill rate, 200 million vertices per second geometry rate, and real-time anti-aliasing and texture filtering capabilities.
Compared to other cards
Apple already offers Radeon 9600 variants as standard and optional equipment on the Power Mac G5 line, including the Radeon 9650, a $50 upgrade that features one dual-link DVI connector to enable users to plug in a 30-inch Cinema HD Display.
The new card is a modest upgrade for Power Mac G5 users who already have a Radeon 9600 card installed, with slightly better performance and the ability to drive a 30-inch Cinema HD Display.
The Radeon 9600 Pro PC & Mac Edition is more likely to appeal to Power Mac G4 users who have older, slower graphics hardware installed on their machines and want to upgrade. The Radeon 9600 Pro PC & Mac Edition has half the parallel pixel pipes and half the vertex pipes as the Radeon 9800 Pro Mac Edition card, but also carries a $100 lower suggested retail price, and is likely to be significantly less than that from vendors.
Software exposes other capabilities
The included ATI Displays software enables Mac users to rotate the screen on any display; if you connect a display that supports portrait orientation, for example, you can use the ATI Displays software to rotate your desktop image 90 degrees left or right.
ATI Displays also exposes OpenGL-based overrides for individual applications, and lets you enable features like anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering on games that don’t have native support for those features. Anti-aliasing smooths the jagged edges of polygonal objects to help create a more lifelike effect, while anisotropic filtering can sharpen the detail you see in 3D objects looked at from an angle.