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Manufacturer: ATI Technologies
Min OS X: 10.2.5    Requires: Free AGP Slot


ATI Radeon 9800 Pro
September 18, 2003 | Lucian Fong
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Out of the Box
The first thing you will notice about the Radeon 9800 Pro is the red PCB and aluminum finned heatsink, which will probably make you wish your Mac had a big lexan window and neon lighting so you could show off to all your friends. A Molex connector (the same kind your hard drive uses) resides in the upper right corner of the PCB and a lengthy Y-adapter comes pre-attached. The Radeon 9800 Pro must be attached to an external power source or your computer will not boot up properly. Although ATI recommends a 300 watt power supply, I had it installed in my G4/500 tower that has a meager 220 watt PSU and powers three hard drives, a DVD burner, a CPU upgrade card, and several external peripherals, without any problems.

Three familiar connectors line the card's metal bracket: 15-pin VGA, DVI-I, and S-video out. An S-video cable, a composite cable, and two adapters (S-video-to-composite and DVI-to-VGA) are included. Owners of displays that utilize ADC (Apple Display Connecter) will need to purchase a DVI-to-ADC adapter.

Included on the driver CD is version 1.0 of the Radeon 9800 Pro software and a PDF manual that covers the ATI Displays control panel in detail. It is highly recommended that you download and install version 1.1, which includes ATI Displays 4.1 and allows you to control full-scene anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering on a per application basis. The new OpenGL Override options are explained in the documentation found with the driver download.

The Radeon 9800 Pro requires Mac OS X 10.2.5 or higher for full functionality. It will boot into Mac OS 9, but with no 2D or 3D acceleration and only basic 2D display capabilities. Lastly, the Radeon 9800 Pro is a 4x AGP card, so it will transfer data at that speed even when installed in the 8x AGP slot of a Power Mac G5. The Apple BTO Radeon 9800 Pro, on the other hand, will run at full 8x speed.

3D Benchmarks
Small Dog Electronics was generous enough to loan IMG a dual 1.25 GHz Power Mac G4 for this review. While it will take much faster hardware to push the Radeon 9800 Pro, this setup will give you an idea of how it performs relative to ATI's older products and it's potential. Hopefully, this review will be updated with scores from a Power Mac G5 in the future.

I changed the usual benchmarking methodology to eliminate irrelevant tests and accommodate the Radeon 9800 Pro's new features, specifically full-scene anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering. Jedi Knight 2 and Return to Castle Wolfenstein were left out (severely CPU bound) and Unreal Tournament 2003 was added. Also, by popular demand, Quake 3 was tested with sound off.

Below are the particulars of the hardware and software configurations I used:

  • Power Mac G4 dual 1.25 GHz (FW800)
  • Retail Radeon 9800 Pro
  • OEM ATI Radeon 9000 Pro
  • Retail Radeon 8500
  • 768 MB of PC2700 DDR SDRAM
  • Mac OS X 10.2.6

  • Quake 3: Arena 1.32 (G4 build), demo four
  • Unreal Tournament 2003 (with OpenAL fix), Antalus flyby demo
  • In both Quake 3 and UT2003, I used the highest detail settings possible. Also of note, sound is disabled in the UT2003 flyby demos.

    I was unable to procure any NVIDIA graphics cards so they were omitted from testing.



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