ATI Radeon 9700 Pro - Delivering as Promisedby Anand Lal Shimpi on August 19, 2002 8:00 AM EST
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Just over a month ago we brought you a preview of ATI's most impressive GPU to date - the R300. Although ATI had previously given us every reason to be skeptical of their ability to beat NVIDIA, the R300 removed all doubt from our minds. The chip was very NVIDIA-like in design, employing an architecture very similar to NV30. Gone were the days when ATI would bank on features like a radical 3rd texture unit per pipeline; the R300 was designed with tried and true philosophies and unlike most of NVIDIA's competitors, ATI seemed to have learned from their mistakes.
Our only remaining worry was that ATI would not be able to deliver the very large and very expensive R300 chip as promised. ATI made us a promise that they would begin shipping to retail in roughly a month from the R300's technology announcement; if you do a quick search you'll see that ATI even delivered on this promise as well. Just as ATI announced a couple of weeks ago, retail shipments of the Radeon 9700 Pro have commenced as of today (8/19/2002).
With the chip and the card on time, the only thing that remained was a confirmation of clock speeds. One of the biggest concerns that exists when dealing with a large chip like the R300 is the issue of binning. It all boils down to one very simple principle; the higher the clock speed, the lower the yield will be and there was a lot of doubt that ATI could reach core clocks over 300MHz. Part of the secret to ATI's ability to launch the R300 at 325MHz is contained within the Radeon 9700 Pro name, but we'll get to that later.
As the Radeon 9700 Pro begins its journey into the hands of the fortunate few that are spending $399 on a video card, we're here to bring you a final review of the card based on shipping hardware.
If you haven't already, be sure to read our technology overview and performance preview of the Radeon 9700 Pro since we'll be assuming that you're already familiar with the R300's architecture at this point.