Let's talk seriously about Radeon 9xxx card fro HTPC

Vince Maskeeper

Senior HTF Member
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Jan 18, 1999
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6,499
I'm thinking it's about time for an upgrade on my end- and I've been thinking about replacing my old trusty Radeon LE card (No fan!!) which happily does beautiful 720p dvd for me, with one of these new fangled gadgets and seeing what I get.

Late last year, when the first wave of cards were hitting the market, I did some reasearch and pretty much came up with:

9700 PRO- 8 pixel pipelines, 4 vertex shaders, 128 MB with 256-bit memory bus, DirectX 9 support. $350+. Complete overkill for HTPC, and complete overprice. Seems like most the advantages to this card were in the rendering and shading areas, specifically excellent for gaming. Besides the desire to own the "top of the line", I couldn't see any reason this would be useful in htpc.

9700 (non-pro)- Same engine as the 9700, at a lower clock speed (275/270 versus 325/310 of the PRO). Still seems a bit too much for HTPC it seems, the main advantages being in graphics for gaming. $250+

9500 PRO- 128bit memory interface instead of the 256 for the 9700 cards. Full 8 pixel pipelines and 128mb for the pro version. Still full DX9 support, 275/270 clock speed. $175+

9500 (non-pro)- 128bit memory interface instead of the 256 for the 9700 cards. Stripped to 4 pixel pipelines and only 64mb. $150+

9000/9000-pro: Basically the 8500 cards over again, no DX9 support.


Now, last month brings word of the new 9800, 9600 and 9200 (replacing the 9700, 9500 and 9000 cards respectively). I'm unsure how these cards really fit into the mix (besides bringing clock speed increases and shading enginer improvement over their successors)-- I'm wondering if these cards will simply serve to drive down prices on the 9700/9500 cards, aking them even better for HTPC.

The 9600 cards seem to have been more hanidcapped than the 9500 previously, but has these updated shading and smoothing engines.

I can't seem to figure out specifially which features would offer an improvement from strict MPG decoding standpoint- and would love to hear some discussion on this idea.

-Vince
 

Robert_Gaither

Screenwriter
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Mar 12, 2002
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1,370
I'm a strong believer in buying a gen behind, heck if you're a gambler you might even consider going used (those that keep up with the "jones" or bleeding-cutting edge fanatics will most likely dump them somewhat cheap). Most likely even if these products do currently come out it'd most likely only be noticed mostly on test patterns or the most demanding of video applications (ie as you stated earlier the latest games).

Of course Vince you can always upgrade to the next card and maybe release what you currently own for dirt cheap, I won't stop you but make certain you leave a nice little ad on the hardware for sale section and maybe some us will bite if the price is right...
 

Hanson

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Nov 1, 1998
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Hanson
I've been thinking about replacing my old trusty Radeon LE card (No fan!!) which happily does beautiful 720p dvd for me
I guess the question is, if it's doing the job you want and well, why even upgrade? I understand the jones to tweak and upgrade is strong. But sometimes, you've got to step back and question if it's worth it. I doubt a new card will make much of a difference in PQ -- you may want to shift the $$ into the software side.
 

Francois Caron

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François Caron
Unless you're also into hard-core gaming, you might want to stick with what you currently have now and save the bucks. I have the ATI 9000 Pro myself, but only because I've never owned a graphics card, it had the features that I needed at the time (VGA, DVI, TV-Out), and it was available at a reasonable price. The card was definitely a step-up from the motherboard's built-in graphics engine, but I doubt I'd see much of a difference if I compared it with previous ATI card models.

If you're into medium level gaming and can handle a few compromises, the 9500 and 9600 series may be worth checking out. They have much of the same technology found in the 9700/9800 series, but at a much lower price.
 

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