One of the keys to NVIDIA’s success has been its indirect sales approach. Rather than deal with the costs associated with developing, marketing, and manufacturing their own line of video cards, NVIDIA has essentially outsourced those functions to its partners. This way, NVIDIA can focus on developing and promoting its GPUs while TSMC products its chips and card manufacturers such as ASUS, MSI, Leadtek, and others produce graphics cards based on those graphics cores.
This keeps costs down to a minimum, while maximizing profits for NVIDIA. The greatest downside is that getting their product to market takes a little bit longer than the direct model, although consumers will definitely enjoy the increased price competition the indirect sales model brings.
Weighing the pros and cons of each method, ATI chose to incorporate features from both. While ATI produces its own line of retail RADEON products, it also relies on its own set of partners that also produce cards based on ATI chips. PowerColor is one such company and their EVIL COMMANDO 2 graphics card that we’re reviewing today is based on the RADEON 9700 PRO. In fact, the manufacture of components and their placement is identical to that of ATI’s own RADEON 9700 PRO card, but more on that later. Instead, lets discuss PowerColor.
PowerColor’s not so humble beginnings
PowerColor is a name that may not be familiar to you, but they’ve actually been in the graphics card business longer than many of ATI’s partners. Before signing on with ATI, PowerColor produced cards based on NVIDIA and 3dfx’s graphics chips. PowerColor was also one of a handful of graphics manufacturers to partner with ST Micro/PowerVR on its Kyro products. Before Hercules stepped in, PowerColor was one of their key customers.
To this day PowerColor still produces GeForce products as well as graphics cards based on the SiS Xabre, and overseas, the Kyro II. But now the company is focusing the majority of its efforts on its products based on ATI’s RADEON 9000, 9500, and 9700 lines. Their EVIL COMMANDO (RADEON 9000 PRO) and EVIL COMMANDO 2 (RADEON 9700 PRO) cards were among the first available on the market when these cores were made available largely due to their expertise in bringing their products to market quickly and at an inexpensive price.
Now that you’re more familiar with the company, lets take a look for what they have in store for the RADEON 9700 PRO.