ATI Radeon Ships for PC!
10:19 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story
ATI has long been a company snickered at by both Mac and PC gamers. Their products always seemed to be 6 to 8 months behind the competition, short on speed, and were usually late, to boot. Mac gamers have been tragically disappointed at their offerings for our platform, which pale in comparison to the cards they offer the PC field.
Well, ATI might have found a way to shut up the snickers for good. They have shipped their next-gen Radeon card - yes, shipped! - to stores, well ahead of schedule. The PC news sites are flooded with previews, reviews, and comments - some from John Carmack of id Software himself. The various articles agree that the Radeon is a 1.3 gigatexel card with the mettle to compete with the 3dfx Voodoo5 5500 and the NVIDIA GeForce2 GTS DDR.
Thresh's Firing Squad put this card through the usual battery of tests, and the results may astound you - the new ATI card was a robust contender, totally trouncing the Voodoo5 5500 in many tests, and even squashing the much-praised GeForce 2 in 32-bit Quake 3 Arena benchmarks. Not only that, but the card is packed with features:
In terms of features, the Radeon has all the bases covered. As always, ATI's multimedia DVD/DTV/HDTV support is among the best. As we've mentioned before, the Radeon uses the optional Rage Theater chip for video encoding and decoding. ATI has informed us that there will be a Radeon All-in-Wonder card.Our Gamecenter Alliance partner Gamer's Depot did a bang-up job reviewing this card and talking to ATI staff. GD came to similar conclusions - in 32-bit mode, the Radeon can rival the GeForce 2 GTS (both 64 MB cards) with no trouble at all. The Radeon even beats NVIDIA's card in a test designed to show off NVIDIA's future NV15 chip! GD also makes the radical departure of testing the card with something else than Quake 3 Arena (gasp!) and again it matches or surpasses NVIDIA's hottest card. Here are their conclusions:
There's no question after seeing the benchmark scores that ATI has hit the nail on the head when it comes to 32bit rendering performance. With talk from people like John Carmack about introducing 64bit color in the future, 16bit is looking more and more like ancient technology. So it's great to see ATI pushing the envelope of technology and being a frontrunner in 32bit. This is all well and good, but what does it mean to Mac gamers? Well, we're not sure as of yet, but we will be sure tomorrow! IMG staff will be meeting with ATI at Macworld Expo New York, and ATI just might have an announcement for us - and perhaps even a card to show. ATI has already announced that this new chipset is Mac OS compatible, and strongly hinted that this will be the card in the next G4 series of systems.
It's great to see ATI hitting their competition below the belt by not only bringing us technology that is trend-setting, but also introduces new, usable technology via DirectX8 (to be released later this year). Not only is ATI setting the pace in terms of technology, but also for pricing. As of press time the 64MB version of this card will be $399.00(MSRP), and we're told to expect a 32MB DDR version for $279.00, with a 32MB SDR version bringing up the rear for under $200.00. We were told that since the Radeon incorporates Hyper-Z, even the SDR card will be a good performer in its price range. I guess we'll have to wait and see.
So what is in store for us - another 6 month wait? This time, we don't think so. With 3dfx and NVIDIA charging towards the Mac market, we think ATI's going to find itself squeezed right out of the Mac scene if they aren't aggressive. This will be a great test of how serious ATI is about the Mac audience and their OEM license - if ATI can come through with Mac Radeon cards in the next several months, they might be able to win back the respect of Mac gamers. Maybe.
As the benchmarks show, the Radeon is not the absolute fastest card, but it is a serious contender. It faces the same obstacles NVIDIA has faced, in that many of the advanced features they offer (T&L, 3D textures, etc) have to be specifically included in a game's design in order to be taken advantage of properly - if no designers choose to use those tricks, then you might as well not have them built into the card. And as of yet ATI doesn't offer the comprehensive Full-Screen-Anti-Aliasing solution that the 3dfx Voodoo5 5500 does, although the ATI card does support this feature.
Over the next few days, many questions should be answered. Hopefully ATI will be forthcoming about their Mac plans for the Radeon at MWNY, and other PC hardware sites will chime in with more benchmarks, comparisons, and details on FSAA for this card. With NVIDIA's offerings for Mac still at least 6 months away, and 3dfx' new cards just hitting the market, ATI has the chance to offer the fastest card on the Mac market, for a little while. Their biggest obstacle to overcome will be the negative attitude of Mac gamers, who have felt ignored up to this point.
ATI Radeon - a Mac Contender?
ATI Radeon Showcase
Gamer's Depot Preview/Review of Radeon
Firing Squad Radeon Preview
ATI (add to watch list)
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