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ATI All In Wonder 9600 Pro Review

/ Dec 23rd, 2003 No Comments

We’ve been wowed before by ATI’s offerings by dishing out some well deserved Editor’s Choice awards for the ATI All In Wonder 9700 Pro as well as the 9800 Pro edition. Both cards offered top of the line gaming performance, a great bundle, good application performance, and all the features you could possibly want in a video card. But instead of looking at a card that will blow away the competition, your friends, and your wallet, we’re going to take a look at ATI’s budget offering for the holiday season – the ATI All In Wonder 9600 Pro, a card price-pointed at $250, and offered lower at many e-retailers.

The All In Wonder 9600 PRO includes a higher speed version of ATI’s RADEON 9600 PRO graphics chip for graphics performance. Microsoft DirectX 9 support is the focus of hardware and drivers for games of today and tomorrow. The video card is said to offer long-term entertainment value with its quad-pipe architecture and high precision cinematic shaders that will result in amazing visual gaming experiences to excite devoted gamers and casual fans alike. How would it stack up against the competition? Lets find out!!!

Specifications & Features

The new ALL-IN-WONDER 9600 PRO’s specifications and features.

Dual Monitor Support:

• The first All-in-Wonder with two VGA connections, never be display limited again.

• Run up to three displays simultaneously (dual VGA + TV in clone mode).
FM on your PC:

• Stereo FM Tuner with range from 75.9MHz to 108.0MHz.

• FM-ON-DEMAND … The power to pause live FM radio, listen to instant replays, record live broadcasts … Save radio content in MP3 format for later listening.

TV and beyond on your PC:

• Stereo TV Tuner with 125 channels.
•TV-ON-DEMAND … The power to pause live TV, get instant replays, record live broadcasts for later viewing … Stay on top of the live action while in TV-ON-DEMAND™ mode via Live Preview window.
• VIDEOSOAP™ – next Generation filtering options for Personal Video Recordings that improve captured image quality, particularly when capturing to low bitrates.
• MULTVIEW™ – the ability to add a second tuner for PiP , PoP , and many more features (not supported in EAZYLOOK at this time).
• Gemstar GUIDE Plus+™ Interactive Program Guide- allows user to view and search TV listing by category, actor/performer, or date. Schedule and record programs at the click of a mouse – all the benefits of a PVR without the monthly fees.EAZYLOOK ™
• New Channel surfing menu allows for channel preview.
• Integrated help screens help users master the use of the remote control
• Integrated TV Listings access in TV Player.

Home Theater on your PC:• Superior quality DVD playback with AC-3 Digital Audio output for Dolby® 5.1 Surround Sound.• ATI’s VIDEO IMMERSION II technology for unprecedented video quality.

RF REMOTE WONDER™ (original)• Controls the TV, video, DVD, Interactive Programming Guide, Internet, and gaming features of the ALL-IN-WONDER 9600 PRO.• Supports EAZYLOOK, the REMOTE WONDER user interface included with Multimedia Center.RF REMOTE WONDER™ II (available as optional upgrade):• Support for upcoming second generation remote (available as optional upgrade).• Increased range: now 60 feet.• 6 programmable buttons.

Component Output Support:• Watch DVDs, TV-ON-DEMAND™ on an HDTV ready television using optional component output.

Easy Digital and Analog Video Editing:
• Capture still images and video for use in your own creations.
• Add effects, transitions, and sound to video footage.
• Save your authored videos to VideoCD and DVD formats and burn to disc with one click.
• Bundled with Pinnacle Studio 8.0.Industry Leading 2D/3D Graphics Technology:
• Higher clock rates than desktop RADEON 9600 Pro (400e/325m DDR).
• Complete Microsoft® DirectX® 9.0 support and AGP 8X support.
• 128MB DDR memory accelerates the latest 3D games.
• 128-bit memory interface enables fast 3D performance.
• THEATER™ 200 provides exceptional video quality viewing during live TV, video input and capture.
• ATI’s improved FULLSTREAM™ and VIDEOSHADER™ technologies provide sharper image • quality and better-looking visuals.

Once again we’re blown away by the “All In Wonder” packages that ATI puts together for consumers. You have the Remote Wonder, which itself won an Editor’s Choice award from this website (and many others), as well as the FM radio ability, the video inputs for capturing DVDs and VCR tapes, as well as the cable TV input to watch and capture TV on your computer.
Retails packages include…

ALL-IN-WONDER 9600 PRO Graphics Board

  • Back board Interfaces include Video In (s-video, composite), Video Out (s-video, composite, dual VGA), CATV, and FM ANT.Remote Control
  • 1 – RF REMOTE WONDER
  • 4 – AAA batteries included
  • 1 – USB Remote Receiver
  • Cables and Adapters:1 – Video/Audio Input Block1 – Video/Audio Output Dongle1 – 6’ Composite Video Cable 1 – 6’ S-Video Cable

Setup and Installation:1 – Installation and Setup Poster1 – Installation and Setup Guide1 – Multimedia Center User Guide1 – ATI Driver and Utility CD (includes ATI Multimedia 8.6 software)
Bundled Software:Pinnacle Studio 8 – ATI Versionmuvee autoProducerHalf Life 2 coupon

card benchmark & testing

We used the same system we tested the GeForce4 Ti4200, Ti4400, and Ti4600 on for this review…
Test System Specifications:- AMD 1800+XP Processor- ABIT KR7A Motherboard- 512 MB RAM- Windows XP- DirectX 9.0

3D Mark 2003 – DX9 Benchmarking

3DMark 03 is the latest installment in the popular 3DMark series. 3DMark03 sets the new standard for easily and objectively measuring and comparing modern PCs’ 3D graphics performance. It supports the latest Microsoft DirectX9.0 and contains four new mind blowing real-time 3D game tests as well as advanced DirectX9.0 feature tests. The Numbers…

As you can see the card performs a bit better than the similar price-pointed card, the nVIDIA 5600 Ultra. If you’re interested in games in a DX9 atmosphere, it seems logical that the ATI 9600 Pro is just as good a solution than other cards at that $250 price point.

AquaMark 3

AquaMark3 allows PC users to easily measure and compare the performance of their current and next-generation PC systems. It provides a reliable benchmark which helps users to configure their systems for the best gaming performance.

The AquaMark3 executes a complete state-of-the-art game engine and generates 3D scenes designed to make the same demands on hardware as a modern game. I’ve only included the GFX score, since the CPU and all other parts of the system were identical for the cards tested…


As you can see, the ATI 9600 Pro outperformed the nVIDIA counterpart, but again was pretty far behind cards $150 to $200 more expensive, which is of course pretty understandable.

Gunmetal 2

We used the latest Gun Metal Benchmark 2 version 1.20S and used the default quality settings of the benchmark. This equates to 2XAA was enabled by the game and AF was disabled. We tested at 1024×768.

Numbers represent the average Frame Rate (higher is better)…


Well if you’re able to see patterns, then you can see that once again we see the ATI All In Wonder 9600 Pro outperform the GFFX 5600 Ultra.

installation

The video card is quite easily the easiest thing to install in your computer. Uninstall the OLD drivers first (some people forget this step), turn off your computer, take out the old card, put in the new card (don’t forget you need at least a 350W power supply, 400W greatly recommended … you have to plug it into the video card), turn on the system, download the latest Catalyst drivers (right here) and install them. After that – you’re ready to go!

impressions of performance

The card runs pretty well … then I remember that this card is only $250 and I think that this is one helluva value for consumers from where I sit. Consider this … the Remote Wonder runs $50 and if you planned to buy what promises to be one of the highest selling titles in Half Life 2, which is $50 … right there that’s a combined value of $100 that’s included with the card. Sometimes manufacturers include a ton of stuff that somehow and someway adds up to $100 worth of stuff, but it’s stuff you never use. ATI has included ACTUAL things you’d want to buy. Great work by our friends in Canada.
The lack of 295 cables for this version of the card and use of the one giant uber-cable that plugs everything into it, and then into the card is pretty convenient … just don’t ever lose it. The FM tuner worked pretty poorly to be honest, but to be fair to ATI, that’s more of a reflection of the HORRIBLE reception of FM radio I get in the area.

Conclusions

I was very curious to see how a card that that retailed for about $250 would perform against the immediate competition (the GFFX 5600 Ultra), and the cards that are a step up. We saw some very consistent results with the three main benchmarking programs that we saw – the card outperforms cards at the same price point, but is a definite step behind cards above it in price and hardware.

If you are looking for a card to buy this holiday season that won’t cost you $400+ for yourself or a friend, then ATI has put together a fantastic solution for you. The deal has been really sweetened by the addition of Half Life 2 with the card’s retail bundle. Fantastic! I wish more companies could develop the kind of relationships that benefit the end user like ATI and Valve has with this card.

The 3 year warranty with the card ensures that you’ll be owning it for a while. The performance of the card was pretty impressive, but again, not up to the top cards in the industry – so remember you get what you pay for. This isn’t the top performing card out there, but that’s not why you buy this card – you want a good card at a great price. The value of the card is the real selling point – especially considering the sick bundle included. High usefulness – that’s for sure. You got about 12 different uses for this video card … anywhere from a great performing card for video games, to importing video, to watching tv, to listening to the radio … and so on and so forth. The longevity of the card doesn’t get top marks … getting a card designed for budget shows that it’s not the top of the line, and that decreases the viable life of the product if you regularly upgrade. There is a drawback that there is no DVI support, but most people have the adapter necessary.

The ATI All-in-Wonder 9600 Pro is a fantastic performing card and blows away the competition at it’s pricepoint. With the inclusion of Half Life 2, the bundle is probably the best ever we’ve seen from a video card. This is undoubtedly a fantastic choice if you’re shopping for a video card this holiday season.

Sean W. Gibson

Sean W. Gibson

Founder, Featured Contributor at Gaming Illustrated
Sean Gibson has been the owner and Executive Editor of Gaming Illustrated for over eleven years. His roles include acting as CEO and President of Gaming Illustrated, LLC and also includes being a reviewer, previewer and interviewer. Sean's opinions on this site do not reflect those of his full-time employer.
Sean W. Gibson
Sean W. Gibson

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