In the early months of 1999 ATI introduced their Rage 128 chipset. Even though it there was a great deal of hype before its introduction, this product really didn't get the much anticipated welcome from its customers. The fact is though the Rage 128 chipset boasted of superior 3D performance and 32-bit rendering, when the card finally reached the retail market its performance was way behind most cards in its price range. The biggest blow came from the introduction of the TNT2/Voodoo3 boards; guess I don't need to elaborate on this, we all know how great these board's performances are. It was all a matter of bad timing for ATI; December 1998 was the scheduled time for their introduction of the first board based on the Rage 128 chipset, the Rage Pro. However the delay of a few months was catastrophic for ATI.
After a few months from the introduction of the Rage Pro, ATI introduced their next successor of this 128 chipset, the Rage Fury, which was very much the same as the Rage Pro but with a higher clock speed. This board received a much greater response than its earlier cousin, yet this really didn't last long for it lacked features most new boards offered at that time. The only new feature the Rage Fury offered was a TV-out, which wasn't really great when it comes to quality. So all these black marks contributed for the Rage 128 boards not to be a great success. Uuuh, let me rephrase that, after the introduction of the Rage Fury Pro board, all cards played exactly as ATI wanted. Not only did the Rage Fury Pro have higher clock speeds but it also included a whole new range of cool new features and improved 3D quality. It's a great thing that ATI understood their mistakes early on or god knows where they would have ended up. Better late than never right!!!!
Even though this Canadian manufacture has won great many awards for their line up of video cards in the past up until now they have never been able to compete with manufactures like 3dfx, Matrox, Nvidia etc. yet they still have the whole range of the Mac line-up which is really great. ATI has decided it's high time that they change their image, and this new card is a real good stepping stone. In the future months to come they are said to put out some super GeForce cards to their line-up so that'll really change the table over.
Lets not waste anymore time and lets get to the real deal at hand.
Graphics Controller ATI RAGE 128 PRO GL RAMDAC 300 Mhz for flicker free display Memory Configurations 32MB with Video-in/Video-out 32MB with DVI connector (for Digital Flat Panel displays) 16MB with Video-in/Video-out 16MB with DVI Operating Systems Support Windows 2000 Windows 98 Windows 95b Windows NT 4.0 (DVD and video input/output not supported) Monitor Support CRT Monitor: 15 pin VGA connector TV/Video-out: S-Video and Composite (TV/Video-out versions only) Video-in: Composite (TV/Video-out/Video-in versions only) Standard DVI-D connector: display support up to UXGA resolution (1600x1200) (DVI versions only) Display Support Register compatible with VGA BIOS compatible with VESA for super VGA DDC1/2b/2b+ monitor support VESA Display Power Management Support Separate horizontal & vertical sync at TTL levels Video-in/Video-out Windows 95, Windows 98 NTSC output (PAL versions available) Composite, S-Video connectors 3D Acceleration Features OpenGL ICD for Windows NT 4.0 & Windows 98/95 DirectX, Direct3D, DirectDraw Triangle Setup Engine Texture Cache Bilinear/Trilinear Filtering Line & Edge Anti-Aliasing Texture Compositing Texture Decompression Specular Lighting Perspectively Correct Texture Mapping Mip-Mapping Z-buffering and Double-buffering Bump mapping Fog effects, texture lighting, video textures, reflections, shadows, spotlights, LOD biasing and texture morphing Warranty 5-year limited warranty
Operating Systems Support
3D Acceleration Features
The drivers included with the Rage Fury Pro were a significant improvement to what the Rage Pro offered as it came out. Aiding the average gamer has been ATI's main aim with this board, and they have included OpenGL to Direct3D support with these new drivers. However they could have improved on this a bit more by including a overclocking feature as well. Since it wasn't there we had to resort to PowerStrip for over overclocking needs. The compatibility issues that plagued the early driver releases by ATI we no more to be seen in these drivers, and it also includes an option to select the Z-buffer depth, which is a great performance-increasing feature. All in all the drivers included with the Rage Fury Pro are very satisfactory.
If you took a good look at the 3D Acceleration features this board includes then you'll know that this is no ordinary board that come out into the market, and as our tests will show its performance isn't that bad either.
It was with much anticipation I opened the package ATI sent me, and at first glance I was very impressed. The package included a software bundle which included NFS3 and HeavyGear II, and of course the ATI driver CD. The software bundle doesn't come under my favorite top 10 list, nevertheless I know some of you might still like them. Keep in mind though this software bundle is bound to be revised constantly. The cables provided for the TV-out are of very high quality and the package includes one Composite cable and one S-video cable.
Getting back to the board!!! The board comes with quite a huge heat sink, but as with ATI's past cards they haven't attached a fan to it. Believe me the no oversized heat sink will do any good from heat produced when playing very demanding games. After playing NFS3 quite a few times the screen just freezed, evidence of inadequate cooling. So if you decide to get one of these boards make sure you go shopping for a fan as well.
The Rage Fury Pro comes with a core clock speed of 143/155MHz (Core/Ram). This is a significant improvement from their earlier Rage Pro 128 video card since it was clocked at a mere 100Mhz. It's nice to see that ATI decided to compete with the high leagues such a Nvidia, 3dfx by reving up the clock speed of the Rage Fury Pro, and one point to ponder is that this card has the same clock speed as the TNT2 does. Whether this fact will make it perform equally as the TNT2 will be answered later in our tests, but for now it's nice to know ATI is joining into the high-end market. To further enhance the capabilities of the board they further added 32 MB of 6ns SDRAM, which is really adequate to handle demanding video needs at least for now. Speaking of memory ATI has also increased the performance of 32 bit rendering in the Rage Fury Pro, which means that we can enjoy 32 bit true color while playing games or anything of the sort.
When you consider the overall board there really isn't a significant difference between the Rage Fury pro and its earlier counterpart, other than the fact that the Pro has a much higher core clock speed. Some of you might think that the Rage 128 chipset is a very a basic chipset, well guess again, it in fact it is capable of supporting up to 32Mb of SDRAM, SGRAM as well as DDR SGRAM. (Double Data Rate). However whether ATI will make use of the full potential of this chipset will be quite doubtful, yet we can expect ATI to come out with something extra ordinary in the near future to replace this technology.
The card supports AGP 2X as well as 4X. If your motherboard doesn't support AGP 4X, well no need to worry, the card will work fine. The only drawback is that you won't be able to make full use of the cards AGP 4X transfer rates.
As I mentioned earlier the card includes a wide range of 3D acceleration features such as
The list goes on and on. Currently it's unlikely that games will make full use of all the supported 3D features, it's nice to see ATI thinking well ahead of the future.
The card also supports textures of up to 2048 x 2048, and since most gamers play games in the range of 800 x 600 and 1024 x 768, the card's performance is quite sufficient. And due to the increased 32-bit rendering performance there isn't a significant performance drop even at high resolutions like 1024 x 768.
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.
ATI Rage Fury Pro
3dfx Voodoo3 3000
We compared the Rage Fury Pro with two other video cards, the Matrox G400 and the Voodoo3 3000. Without wasting any more time lets get down to the scores.
As the results show the Rage Fry Pro isn't a bad contender at all compared to the other 2 boards. True the Voodoo3 was way ahead in the 800 x 600 test yet in the 1024 x 768 the gap is reduced. What's more it closely tails on the Matrox G400 with no problem.
Direct 3D Performance
Here's where the Rage Fury Pro show its colors. When it comes to Direct 3D performance this card is a true winner. What's so great is that it even beats the Voodoo3 3000 in the 800 x 600 test.
Overall ATI has done quite a good job with their Rage Fury Pro. The cards 2D quality is impressive thanks to the 300Mhz RAMDAC and the 3D quality is simply superb. This is nothing new though since ATI has always produced cards with very good 3D image quality.
However before you head out there and get your self one of these boards, first make sure where you stand. If you are an extreme hardcore gamer then the Rage Fury Pro will disappoint you no doubt. I suggest you go for a Voodoo 3 or TNT2. However if you are just an average gamer looking for more features than actual performance, then the Rage Fury Pro is a great deal not to be missed.
The DVD output, Video capture options are simply amazing, and won't let you down by any means. Especially the DVD output, which is far superior to any software solution that comes with most video cards today. All in all the Rage Fury Pro is a great card for the average gaming enthusiast, and will give video capturing capabilities with reasonable quality. If you're looking for a good video-capturing card ATI's All In Wonder is the best bet to go for, but if you don't have very high needs then the Rage Fury Pro will be just fine. With a price tag of only $107 and offering this amount of DVD and Video features I think the Rage Fury Pro is truly a class of its own.