Ever since the introduction of ATI's R300 VPU, the gaming industry has started
to take a new look at PC Gaming. No longer are we only obsessed with frame
rates, instead we are now also caring about image quality. The primary
technologies contributing to this phenomenon are FSAA (Full Scene Anti-Aliasing),
and AF (Anisotropic Filtering). Past cards could do both of these technologies,
however when enabled a large performance hit would normally be felt. Many
gamers including myself decided to leave them off as it was better to have a
smooth game play than the improved image quality.
When ATI finally brought R300 to market, a new light was brought on. No longer
did we experience quite as large of a performance hit, in fact many of us can
run with 4X FSAA, and 16X Anisotropic and still get very good frame rates.
Many gamers jumped on the this card when it first came out, however many did
not. Sadly not all of us, including myself have an unlimited budget, so
shelling out 350 - 400 dollars on a video card is just not going to happen.
ATI, along with 3rd party manufacturers like Sapphire had an answer to this
by creating 3 other cards based on the R300 Chipset. The Radeon 9700,
Radeon 9500 Pro, and Radeon 9500. Today we look at Sapphire's Radeon 9700
Included in the Sapphire 9700 Retail box is a full copy of Soldier of Fortune
II, as well as Redline, which is Sapphire's Overclocking/Tweaking Utility.
Its nice to see a company that includes utilities to tweak the card =).
The differences between the 9700 and 9700 Pro are very small, the VPU/Graphics
Processor is identical to the 9700 Pro, in fact the board/pcb design is identical
as well, however 2 things were changed. The video memory was reduced to
a 3.6NS Part, and the VPU speed was reduced as well. The result of this
is a VPU speed of 275 MHz, and a video memory speed of 270 MHz. The 9700
Pro runs at 325VPU, and 310Memory. Other differences are simply cosmetic,
the pcb is not red this time, instead Sapphire decided to go with a rather sporty
and cool looking black PCB, an improvement over the stock red color in my opinion.
The other change is the HSF (Heat Sink/Fan). It not only performs a tad
better, but looks better as well. Nothing wrong with that.
In terms of the die hard features of the card, I am going to reference this
rage3d review of the 9700 Pro, as it seems rather silly to repeat it all here.
for more details.