Crucial Radeon 9700 Pro review
ATi's Radeon 9700 Pro, since its widespread availability from the beginning of September, has been the performance video card of choice, assuming you could raise the asking price of around £300. With its phenomenal fillrate (courtesy of a 256-bit memory bus), efficient bandwidth-saving techniques, and impressive performance once visual delights such as anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering had been applied, it was comfortably faster than NVIDIA's GeForce4 Ti 4600.
ATi, in the past, were keen to market cards with their name alone. NVIDIA, on the other hand, enlisted the help of as many partners as possible with a view to sourcing out the reference design and allowing card manufacturers to introduce their own offerings based on a certain GPU. Notable industry heavyweights such as Gainward, Asus, ABIT, MSI, Visiontek, and Leadtek all took up the challenge and produced their own versions of each NVIDIA GPU, often deviating from the reference design when and where they saw fit.
It seems as if ATi have taken a leaf out of NVIDIA's book lately. Although they still put forward the reference design, other companies are given the chance to package and market certain ATi video cards. Generally starting with the Radeon 8500, we've seen an increasing number of 3rd-party ATi cards in the form of Sapphire, Connect3D, Powercolor, and MagicPro versions.
The introduction of the Radeon 9700 Pro has seen a number of recognised manufacturers enter the ATi fray. At the time of writing you can purchase a Radeon 9700 Pro branded under the Gigabyte or Hercules name; that's quite an achievement for a company that strictly produced its own cards until very recently. In a further attempt to increase the availability and attractiveness of the R9700, it seems that another player has thrown their hat into the ring.
Crucial Technology, a popular division of Micron Memory, are, quite understandably, best-known for distributing quality PC memory. It's not an overstatement to say that their on-line store has reformed the way in which we purchase our memory in the UK and Europe. Every firm is keen to branch out into related, but new, pastures. Crucial did so by re-selling ATi's Radeon 8500 under their own name. It appears as if this venture was a success, as we now see the Crucial offering the Radeon 9700 Pro.
What, if anything, is new with this variant of the R9700 ?. Just how does it perform ?. Let's answer these and other questions as we look at it in a little greater detail.