Friday’s introduction of ATI’s new Radeon 9600 Pro PC & Mac Edition graphics card also heralds an important step in the graphics chip and card maker’s realignment of its Macintosh product line. ATI is consolidating and shifting its Mac retail graphics card efforts for the fall.
At the top of the line, ATI’s X800 XT Mac Edition card remains the best money can buy for Power Mac G5 gaming enthusiasts and 3D design and animation professionals. The card debuted late last year for US$499, but ATI is dropping the retail price to $399 to make it more palatable for G5 users who wish to upgrade.
Equipped with 256MB VRAM, the X800 XT Mac Edition card incorporates a dual link DVI connector to support 30-inch Apple Cinema HD Displays and an Apple Display Connector (ADC) interface to support older Apple flat panel displays.
ATI also makes a low-end card — the $129 Radeon 9200 Mac Edition. A PCI-based graphics card, the Radeon 9200 comes equipped with VGA, DVI and S-Video interfaces and is aimed at users who have a legacy Power Mac that doesn’t have an AGP interface, or at users who want to add additional video capabilities to their systems on top of whatever AGP-based card they already have installed. ATI will continue to make the Radeon 9200 Mac Edition card available.
Consolidation and changes to the mid-range
ATI’s newly introduced Radeon 9600 Pro PC & Mac Edition card effectively replaces the Radeon 9000 Pro Mac Edition card. That card was aimed at mainstream Power Mac G4 users, equipped with 128MB VRAM, ADC and DVI connectors. At only $129, The Radeon 9000 was less expensive, but was built around a slower and less capable graphics chip.
ATI is also consolidating its Radeon 9800 Pro line, which should help clear up some confusion from Mac users. Up to now, the company has had a Mac Special Edition card specific for Power Mac G5 users, and a Mac Edition card specifically for Power Mac G4 users. While both cards were comparable in performance, the G5 version touted 256MB VRAM and cost $299, while the $249 Power Mac G4 version had only 128MB VRAM.
ATI is whittling that down to a single Radeon 9800 Pro Mac Edition card that works with both G4 and G5 systems. Equipped with 256MB VRAM, a DVI interface, VGA port and S-Video port. The card will retail for $299 — the same price as the Mac Special Edition card currently available.