To say that Mac gamers have a love/hate relationship with graphics card manufacturer ATI Technologies is something of an understatement. Cast aside as the underdog in performance, late with driver updates, and slow to bring their latest and greatest to the Mac platform, ATI has given many Mac gamers reason to look elsewhere for 3D hardware acceleration. Unfortunately, those ‘other’ solutions have proven just as imperfect, with beta (and unsupported in some cases) drivers and various trade-offs for a slight gain in performance.
Even Steve Jobs has been mad at ATI, when the information about an OEM Radeon option was leaked before he could announce it. For a time, things looked sketchy for the future of ATI on the Mac platform.
Well, that time is over. ATI is shipping both OEM Radeon cards for Apple’s G4 Cube and G4 tower systems, and the Radeon Mac Edition AGP should be in stores soon. For the first time on the Mac, you really can have it all – top-notch speed, fantastic image quality and compatibility – and lose nothing in the bargain.
The Tech SpecsThe Radeon is a single-chip card based on a next-generation chip from ATI. This AGP card, which supports the 2X AGP slot in Apple’s later G4 series machines, has 32 MB of DDR RAM. The graphics processor has a 166 MHz clock rate, and sits on a 256-bit bus with a 350 MHz RAMDAC which powers the 2D functions of the card. The Radeon chip itself has over 30 million transistors crammed into its tiny size – more than a Pentium III chip!
What does all this tech-speak translate into? Well, ATI is no longer an also-ran. They broke the mold and made a new chip which not only incorporates the same level of technology as their competitors, but surpasses similar chips in many ways.
There are several very important differences between the retail and the OEM version of the Radeon. There is no ADC connector; the card features a standard VGA port, a DVI/I port for digital flat-panel displays, and an S-Video port for display on a TV or connection to a VCR. Currently there is no plan for an ADC-equipped retail card; the reason for this is pretty clear. Anyone who had an ADC-capable monitor would already own a Mac with an OEM Radeon in it, so the market for such a card would be very limited; only those who bought G4s or Cubes with the Rage 128 ADC in the small window in which the Radeon OEM had yet to ship would be potential upgraders. It is also important to note that the Radeon Mac Edition will NOT fit in the Apple Cube systems.
The card itself is quite small, the same size as the Rage 128 Pro OEM, and sports a single, practically silent fan. Shipping in the box with the Radeon are several high-quality video cables (S-Video to RCA Video, S-Video to S-Video) for connection to a TV or VCR and a driver install CD; there is no game or software bundle.