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When ATI launched the RADEON 9000/9000 PRO and RADEON 9700 PRO earlier this summer, they were unanimously heralded as the best products in their class by the media. Not only was ATI the first to market with a DirectX 8 accelerator in the value space, they’d also grabbed the performance thrown from NVIDIA, a spot NVIDIA had held for years.
But while the value sector the RADEON 9000 competes in is a huge market, margins are slim and competition is cutthroat. The RADEON 9700 PRO is without a doubt the king of the hill in its market, but lets face it, there aren’t many consumers out there willing to dish out $400 for a video card. Therefore, as successful as both product launches were, it goes without saying that ATI had left a huge hole in the mainstream segment. Some would say the gap between both products was large enough to guide a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier through.
We can say that in the past tense because today ATI is unveiling three new products that are intended to address this market. And by the looks of things, it certainly appears that ATI has executed once again.
When the RADEON 9700 was initially unveiled, the specs for the board were not final. ATI would only say that they were shooting for a core clock frequency greater than 300MHz, while they were demonstrating boards running at 325MHz. Eventually it was decided that a RADEON 9700 PRO model would be added to the product lineup, with a 325MHz core clock paired with 620MHz memory.
At the time we guessed that the announcement was hinting that ATI was having poor yields at 325MHz, and would therefore offer a limited number of RADEON 9700 PRO boards at 325MHz, with the bulk of their shipments being RADEON 9700 cards at a slower clock speed. However, it’s now two months later and not only are regular 9700 cards still nonexistent, we’ve also discovered that the RADEON 9700 PRO core is an excellent overclocker!
However, ATI knows that its customers want to see the RADEON 9700 at a lower price point. The ultra high-end market just isn’t large enough for ATI and its board partners. Therefore ATI has decided to release the RADEON 9700.
Like the RADEON 9000 and RADEON 9000 PRO, the only difference between the RADEON 9700 and RADEON 9700 PRO lies in its clock speed. While the RADEON 9700 PRO boasts a 325MHz core/620MHz memory combination, RADEON 9700 sports a 275MHz core clock paired with 540MHz memory.