Image Quality, Overclocking, & Final Words
The 2D image quality produced by the Rage 128 Pro's 300MHz RAMDAC is virtually identical to that of the original Rage 128 at lower resolutions and offers an average 2D picture at higher (1600 x 1200) resolutions. The 3D image quality of the chip is definitely first class as it has always been. Even the original Rage 128 had a beautiful 32-bit color output and that trend has been carried over to the Rage 128 Pro.
So how does the Rage Fury Pro and its Rage 128 Pro chip stack up to the competition? The first thing we have to look at is price, with an introductory price of $179 minus a $30 mail in rebate for a net price of $149, for the hard core gamer, this card is a rip-off. So hard core gamers should stick to their TNT2s and Voodoo3s, as if you didn't know that before.
For the occasional gamer the Rage Fury Pro seems ideal but pairing the card up with a fast processor such as a Pentium III 500+ or an Athlon will most likely be doing your processor an injustice if you're concerned with gaming performance. The "slower" processors (< P3-450) is where the card will begin to shine, especially against the more CPU dependent TNT2, especially under Direct3D. The current limitation of performance under Quake 3 seems to be a result of the OpenGL ICD which does seem to have some room for improvement. It wouldn't be surprising to see the Rage 128 Pro beat out the TNT2 in a few Quake 3 runs with a better ICD.
As we mentioned before, we had a few problems identifying the actual clock speed of our review sample and ATI was no help in answering that question. Any attempts to reclock the core of the card would kill the video signal and left our test bed helpless until the next reboot. Judging by experiences in the past, the Rage 128 Pro probably won't be the best overclocker. As yields improve it shouldn't be difficult to push the core up another 10MHz possibly with some added cooling.
If you look at it from the perspective of feature set, then the Rage Fury Pro slowly becomes worth the cost. The DVD output of the card is truly amazing and it is definitely superior to any software solution available today. The TV output is above average as well and is excellent for outputting DVD to your TV for full screen enjoyment. Coupled with the S-Video output port the quality is impressive.
The video capture provided by the Rage Theater is a bit sketchy. For someone that's really looking to do some video editing then the Rage Fury Pro is definitely not the card for you. The old Marvel G200 or the newer Marvel G400 are both much better (and more expensive) options for video editing. The software that ships with the Rage Fury Pro simply isn't geared towards video editing, it is more of a family's computer solution. So if you're looking for good video capture for editing purposes, look back at Matrox as that's going to be your best bet under $300.
Now if you're looking for a cheap and easy way to capture video for use on a web site (low bandwidth), or in emails or just for your own personal use where image quality isn't the top concern (although you'd like it to be) then the Rage Fury Pro does make more sense than the Marvel series which requires that everything be captured in MJPEG first. This is especially useful if you're low on hard disk space unlike the MJPEG format which through maintaining such a high visual quality, eats up quite a bit of disk space.
"Respectable but not top of the line" seems to be the trend ATI has been following for a while now and fortunately they've got a few things up their sleeves that may change that. But for now with the Rage Fury Pro catering to such a specific market it will be surprising if it isn't deemed "too little too late" by the consumers. It does have its niche, with occasional gamers and DVD enthusiasts that want a better DVD experience from their computers, but it is not a good video editing solution and offers video capture as a "cool" feature rather than a useful one.
If you want good video capture look at the All-in-Wonder 128 or Matrox Marvel G200/G400. If you want a good gaming card look at the TNT2. The Rage Fury Pro is a small bridge between those two worlds with superb DVD output, if that's what you're looking for, then ATI has it.