Here's where the Rage Fury Pro stands apart from the crowed. ATI is one of the very few manufactures that include hardware motion compensation in their chips and their DVD acceleration engine is simply amazing. When other manufactures think of improving the software aspect of DVD playback, ATI has wisely thought of the future and have gone the hardware way. The quality difference between software and hardware decoding is truly worlds apart. All this time I thought Matrox's software DVD package, the DVDMax was great, but after seeing ATI's hardware accelerated MPEG2/DVD decoding it certainly change my mind.
Going into more detail of the DVD features, as I mentioned before the chip offers 'Hardware Motion Compensation' which plays a significant role in producing high quality DVD playback. So what does this 'Motion Compensation' really do? Well the thing is when playing a DVD the decoding power that's needed from the CPU varies; some might require a great deal of power while some might not. When the CPU comes across a very complex decoding scene it's most likely that the final output will result with unclear, jerky playback. With ATI's Hardware Motion Compensation this drawback is eliminated fully. In addition to this the Rage Fury Pro is also fitted with IDCT or 'Inverse Discrete Cosine Transform' which plays a part in the MPEG 2 decoding process, thus reducing the CPU load during DVD playback and giving you the necessary power to do other tasks as well.
What's so great about this card is that even users with low-end CPU's can enjoy DVD's without any performance drop. When most other cards drain all the resources of the CPU the Rage Fury Pro does just the opposite. In fact we put the Rage Fury Pro through some tests to see how much CPU power is utilized during DVD playback. The results were simply impressive; the CPU occupancy rate very seldom went beyond the 35% mark. However this rate could go up to around 45% depending on your CPU. Either way it's still very impressive since most other boards in this range take up around 80-90% of CPU power. So as you can see it's a very considerable difference.
Overall I can say that the Rage Fury Pro offers almost every DVD acceleration feature that's available in the market. Since the card comes with the TV out option I didn't waste much time hooking my 29" TV to enjoy the DVD's I had. There isn't evident picture quality loss here either and the card simply performed as it was supposed to. Another great thing about this card is that it offers such good picture quality that it's almost similar to most set top DVD players. Now that's a great achievement for ATI. Kudos ATI !!!! If you could afford a few bucks and spend for a $80 DVD player and a reasonable speaker system then you could have your very own home theatre system at almost half the cost of a set top player. If you don't want to spend over $100 for a speaker system then the Diamond Promedia 3025 speakers will suite your needs at $80.
TV In & Out
When it comes to features I think the Rage Fury Pro board is the only board that offers this amount of features for a reasonable price of $130. In addition to the impressive DVD feature the Rage Fury Pro also comes equipped with a Video In and Video Out feature.
Implementing video capabilities on to their boards is one thing ATI does well and does it right indeed, and they seem to have done a splendid job with the Rage Fury Pro. The Video capabilities that are provided with the board are no doubt one of the best I have ever come across so far in a video card. The board is capable of capturing high resolution still images as well as send a signal out to any regular TV through its S-Video Out port or its standard RCA jack. I tested the boards TV out capabilities with my 29" TV and the experience was some thing totally new. I further went on to play NFS 3 through the TV and guess I don't need to tell how good that was now do I..!! All this is possible through ATI's Rage Theater chipset.
The card itself supports a whole range of video capturing formats such as YVU9 Planar (Indeo Raw), YVU12 Planar (MPEG Raw), MPEG-1, MPEG-2 and ATI's proprietary VCR 1.0 and VCR 2.0 formats. Depending on your requirements and hard drive space you should change the capturing format, however I would recommend that you use MPEG capturing format since it's the most distributed and widely supported format.
Another cool feature of the Rage Fury Pro is its immense flexibility. Without spending any more cash on a new Webcam for your PC you could simply attach your existing video camera to the card and reap the benefits of any PC webcam at no extra cost. Now that's something you don't see every day isn't it. The only thing that's missing with the Rage Fury Pro is a TV Tuner. We would have loved to see this on this board, yet then ATI would have had to increase the price of the board quite a lot more. However all is not lost, if you really wish to add a TV tuner function to the card then there's an add on TV tuner card on offer by ATI called the ATI-TV Wonder. This will bring out all the features offered by ATI's All-In-Wonder. Some might wonder why not go for the All-In-Wonder instead of the Rage Fury Pro, well it's simply; Speed. The Rage Fury Pro has it and the All-In-Wonder doesn't.