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I think it is rather obvious from this review, and many others on the Internet, that the Radeon 9700 is the current champ of video cards. Not only is it the fastest, but I also think it’s a quality made product. Through all of my testing, I haven’t had any major problems with the 9700, much like the Radeon 8500 did when it was initially reviewed. I had a lockup problem in Mafia, but that was fixed by downloading a small patch from ATI’s website. You might be reading about a few problems with this card, but I can’t lie to you, I really haven’t had any problems with this card. I’m sure that there are definitely more satisfied users than disappointed ones. This card doesn’t shine in 3DMark, or Quake 3; where this card shines is when you turn up the eye candy, the AA/AF, and the resolution, and we fully utilize the power of the card and of your system. The AA implementation is excellent (although not quite as good as Matrox’s 16xFAA) and it doesn’t seem to have a problem with any game I’ve thrown at it (not only do the drivers work great, but you can run with high details/resolution). I would have run more AA tests, but I was on a big time limitation with the Ti4600.

Don’t get me wrong, even though the ATI 9700 whooped the Ti4600 by a good margin, the Ti4600 is no slouch. As you can see, it can play a LOT of games out there with max settings and still get great framerates. If you can’t afford a 9700 Pro, a Ti4600 should keep you set for a while; granted, it isn’t as good, but such is the tradeoff, as with anything. The bottom line is, if you play all your games at 1024×768 with no AA/AF (for whatever reason…) or if you have a sub-1GHz CPU, don’t waste your money on this card; you won’t realize a difference important enough to justify the extra $100-odd dollars. My friend was asking me a couple of weeks ago whether he should get a TI4600 or a Radeon 9700, and his 15 inch LCD monitor doesn’t support anything above 10×7. I asked him if he wanted AA, he told me it didn’t matter, so I told him to get a GeForce4 Ti.

We’ll probably see the same results with the NV30– higher performance at more intensive resolutions/settings, but comparable performance to the 9700 in lower settings. But on the other hand, does anyone (aside from my friend, who is in the minority with his LCD monitor) really game at 1024×768 with no AA/AF anymore? And if they do, I’d be willing to bet they play more than Quake 3 and Unreal Tournament. However, if you like your games with maximum eye candy, you’ll love the Radeon 9700, and I definitely think it’d be worth the extra $100.

Do you want me to send you this card?

Do you want this exact card that I’ve benchmarked, tested, and turned my computer into a 3DMark-monster with? It’s not exactly “my card”, it was supplied to me by one of our very generous moderators (jimzinsocal) under the condition that I would raffle it off when I’m done revieiwng it, to help Tigsman (one of our super moderators who recently had a heart attack) with his growing medical bills, due to his lack of medical insurance. Ron (Tigsman) is also a reviewer here, and mostly does cases and cooling, though his condition has temporarily delayed some of the reviews he’d like to do…get well soon Ron. 🙂

Should you upgrade?

If you already have a GeForce4 Ti, I wouldn’t even bother upgrading right now unless you are loaded in money—sure, the performance difference is awesome, but at what cost? If you have a GeForce3, or maybe even a Radeon 8500, it would be a very nice treat to upgrade to the latest and greatest, and if you’ve got the cash I say go for it…and if you have a GeForce2 or lower, run to the store now, and at least get a GeForce4 Ti, if this is out of your price range! If you buy a Radeon 9700 now, you should surely be set for all of next year, and perhaps beyond that.

Bottom line, if you’ve got the money and you want the absolute best, this is the card for you. Prices have already dropped by a lot on the Internet, and they are already near about $320 for Sapphire-made versions and $350 for the retail ATI built version; perhaps they will even get below $300 soon enough. Ti4600 prices have already dropped, some are well under $250. If you don’t exactly want to shell out those big bucks, pick up a GeForce4 Ti4200, or even an 8500 wouldn’t be bad. You can’t go wrong either way.

If you’ve got any comments, suggestions, or questions, you can email me here. If you’d like to discuss this article and the card itself, check out this thread on the AMD Forums.

To discuss this review, head here.

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