Question for the veterans of PC gaming: why was the Radeon 9700 Pro such a big deal?

XacTactX

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I've been in PC gaming/hardware for around 15 years but the 9700 Pro was just before my time (plus I was 10 years old so I wasn't mature enough). All of the comments I've read about it are along the lines of "Best GPU of all time!" and other similar remarks. Can you guys tell me why it was such a big deal? For me, the 8800 GTX sticks out as one of the most significant GPU releases that I witnessed, was the 9700 Pro like that?

Here is AnandTech's review if you're curious.
 

theplaidfad

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I know it was a year later, but the 9800xt was the one I remember the most. It wasn't my first video card purchase, but it was the first time I purchased "the top dog" video card.

Looking back at some reviews just moments ago, it traded blows with the Geforce FX 5900 Ultra. I don't remember exactly why, but the Geforce offering wasn't my choice at that time.
 

whateverer

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It was the first 8-ROP 256-bit video card, which meant you could run with 4x MSAA at every resolution.

It was almost twice as fast as the GeForce 4.4600, but launched at the exact same price:

https://www.anandtech.com/show/970/6

It was the first full DX9 video card, which meant it was a great investment. Nvidia at the time was stuck on DitectX 8.1.

It was so ahead of it's time, it took several years before serious DX9 titles launched. But in the meantime,, you could enjoy the sexy new 6x MSAA, and Anisotopic Filtering.

It could still play Halflife 2 2.5 years later at high at 1600x1200, but no AA. The GeForCE FX 5800 died a quick death once DX9 actally arruived.

at_canals_08.png

Nvidia G80 was impressive, but just like raytracing, it was prohibitively expensive. for the first year And unlike the DX9 revolution, DX10 didn't rally start to matter until 4 years later. And by that time, games were too demanding to run on the 8800 GTX.
 
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XacTactX

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I know it was a year later, but the 9800xt was the one I remember the most. It wasn't my first video card purchase, but it was the first time I purchased "the top dog" video card.

Looking back at some reviews just moments ago, it traded blows with the Geforce FX 5900 Ultra. I don't remember exactly why, but the Geforce offering wasn't my choice at that time.
In my case it was the Radeon 9800 Pro, I got it on Christmas of 2003 so I could play Counter Strike. It was mindblowing to see CS 1.6 with the same quality as my local internet cafe. But sadly my 9800 Pro never got to flex its muscles because I had a Pentium 4 1.7 GHz Willamette, it totally held back that GPU. I could barely play HL2 at 1024 x 768 because it was so CPU limited.
 

HockeyJon

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8800 GTX was too expensive for most people, most people had had to wait a year for the 8800 GT to get a taste of that performance. 9700 Pro launched at a normal price, and actually the 9700 was an even better deal at nearly $100 less.
Not to mention that at lot of 9500 cards at launch were made on 9700 boards and, if you got lucky, you could soft mod the drivers to turn that 9500 into a 9790 for probably the singles greatest free upgrade of all time.

Yes, I was one of the lucky ones. I still love that card to this day.

The rest of the other benefits are summarized in the thread though. Card was just a beast, could finally run features like anti-aliasing while maintaining a playable frame rate, and the card was able to produce playable frame rates in games even a few years later at a time when upgrades came at a much more rapid pace. It all added up to what I still consider to be the best video card release to date.
 

sirmonkey1985

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i never ended up getting the 9700 pro but i did have a 9500 software modded to a 9700 and then also had the 9800SE modded to a pro.. those were some interesting times back then and still amazes me that after all these years and AMD buying ATi they still haven't bothered to remove that option even now with the navi cards although it's now just voltages and clocks but still.
 

chameleoneel

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Also, the Geforce FX 5**** series had bad performance when running DX9 shaders in 32 bit. And the 16 bit mode had obvious visual artifacts. And also those cards still had some quirks about overall performance.

The Radeon 9**** cards used a 24 bit mode, which maintained visual integrity, but it also ran fast. Overall performance, it impressed at every turn.

It was also a big deal becuase the 9700 cards were the first time Radeon sat comfortably in the top range of framerates. It was such a surprise for them to release a product which not only got there, but did it with such overall excellence. There was nothing wrong with it, relative to the time. For the DX8 days, the Radeon 8500 had better image quality than Geforce 3 and 4 and more visual effects possible due to extra shader support with DX8.1. But the overall performance left it as a sort of mid-range/mid-low, compared to the Geforce 4. In terms of flat out framerates possible. And after a relatively long period of nothing----the 9700 came out.
 
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HockeyJon

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i never ended up getting the 9700 pro but i did have a 9500 software modded to a 9700 and then also had the 9800SE modded to a pro.. those were some interesting times back then and still amazes me that after all these years and AMD buying ATi they still haven't bothered to remove that option even now with the navi cards although it's now just voltages and clocks but still.
It was never a feature or an option, it was a consequence of design decisions that had the be made. In the 9500’s case, it wasn’t something that was guaranteed to work. ATi needed to get a product in that market segment and the 9500 PCBs weren’t ready. The idea was to use the 9700 PCB and build the cards who had defective memory that couldn’t support the wider bus of the 9700 to be resold as 9500 cards. Recall that the difference between the two was only that the 9700 had double the memory bandwidth. It was entirely possible that you would buy one of these cards, attempt the soft mod, and be greeted with artifacting.

Also, you have to remember as well that the 9700 was the first card ATi had in a good long while that decisively beat Nvidia. I don’t think they were in the position to piss off the enthusiast market by disabling that ability once it was discovered, much in the same way AMD can’t afford to piss of a bunch of enthusiasts who figured out you can mod the BIOS on a 5700 and turn it into a 5700XT. Those are customers that may otherwise buy Nvidia, so they’re better off selling them as is.

I remember I bought mine from an OEM store specifically because they sold unboxed cards and I could check the PCB before I bought it to ensure I was getting the 9700 PCB. I got lucky with the memory and the mod worked.

Question for you guys, did any of you 9700 owners have the balls/skill to try the hardware mod?
 
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harvestor

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I tried the hardware mod a few years after the fact just to see if i could do it and yes it worked, those extra 4 made a huge difference
 

DogsofJune

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I have the 9700 AIW. The features and the performance for its value was fantastic.

I should dig that box out of storage after the apocalypse is over and see if that Abit BP-6 is still kicking
 

Snowdog

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I had a 9700 pro. It was standout card/family in it's time, much like the 8800 GTX card/Family was later.

9700 pro was in the running for my personal favorite card of all time, and I probably would have squeezed a few more years out of it, but it died on me after about 3 or 4 years.

My 8800GT OTOH, is 12 years old and still running fine, my system is up 24/7 for quite a few years as well. My personal favorite card of all time.
 

Armenius

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It was the first 8-ROP 256-bit video card, which meant you could run with 4x MSAA at every resolution.

It was almost twice as fast as the GeForce 4.4600, but launched at the exact same price:

https://www.anandtech.com/show/970/6

It was the first full DX9 video card, which meant it was a great investment. Nvidia at the time was stuck on DitectX 8.1.

It was so ahead of it's time, it took several years before serious DX9 titles launched. But in the meantime,, you could enjoy the sexy new 6x MSAA, and Anisotopic Filtering.

It could still play Halflife 2 2.5 years later at high at 1600x1200, but no AA:

View attachment 232708

Nvidia G80 was impressive, but just like raytracing, it was prohibitively expensive. for the first year And unlike the DX9 revolution, DX10 didn't rally start to matter until 4 years later. And by that time, games were too demanding to run on the 8800 GTX.
The 9700 Pro launched at $399. The 8800 GTX launched at $529 at a time when ATi's top card, the X1900 XTX, was $499. I don't know how that was "prohibitively expensive."

EDIT: Just replaced AMD with ATi since they weren't assimilated yet.
 
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ND40oz

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Oh the X1950 XTX, I replaced my flashed X800 GTO^2 with two of them. Those were the days, needed the external dongle for crossfire.
 

Scheibler1

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It was great price to performance ratio. 9700pro, 8800gt, and 1080ti are probly the best bang for your back that I can remember. 1080ti was expensive, but it's still a top end card years after release. I'm still using mine at 4k
 

whateverer

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The 9700 Pro launched at $399. The 8800 GTX launched at $529 at a time when ATi's top card, the X1900 XTX, was $499. I don't know how that was "prohibitively expensive."

EDIT: Just replaced AMD with ATi since they weren't assimilated yet.

It was $599 launch price. That was $100 higher than any previous launch.

The rest of the lineup was also questionable value, as the 8600GTS was the exact same performance per dollar as the 7900GT. It was an expensive step sideways, and only the extreme expensive cards saw any improvement.

We had to wait for the die shrinks to make G80 affordable.
 
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bigdogchris

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From what I remember it was just a good value in an era when GPU's were becoming mainstream and some until then sucked. Early version of Direct X also did not perform well when it first game out, Glide on our 3dfx cards or OpenGL were usually better IMO.

So this card was really released at a great time at a great value on brand new XP rigs with DX9 support. Many good things happening all at once.
 
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GotNoRice

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I ran a FireGL X1 128 for a long time. It was the workstation version of the 9700 Pro, and it had dual DVI instead of DVI and VGA. All it took was a tiny driver mod and you could install the regular Radeon drivers on the card instead of the FireGL drivers. I only paid about $300 for it. It was the last time I had a high-end card that was that cheap. It paired well with the Dual-Xeon rig I had at the time (2 core / 4 thread back when most were still running single core), running on one of the few dual-Xeon motherboards that had an AGP slot and allowed overclocking. Plus some great computer games came out around that time. A very nostalgic time overall.
 

Dan_D

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It boils down to a couple of things. The biggest one being timing. AMD struggled in the graphics card market against NVIDIA and before that, nearly anyone and everyone else. ATi had a few successful cards, of course. However, it never had anything that was a definitive market leader the way NVIDIA had. Even ATi's best cards like it's Fury Maxx were problematic at best. ATi's R300 architecture was known about ahead of time and there was a lot of claims made and a ton of hype for it. Oddly, once released R300 delivered. The hype ended up being real. It also came out way ahead of NVIDIA's lackluster FX series and initially competed against the NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4600. It obviously crushed those and when the 5800 Ultra was released, it just wasn't all that good. It was faster here and there, but it was also slower than ATi's 9700Pro a lot of the time.

It also helped that the NVIDIA GeForce FX 5800 Ultra sounded like a leaf blower and the ATi Radeon 9700 Pro didn't.
 

Woot910

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Loved my Powercolor 9800se that was able to be modded to a Pro! Ohhhh the days!. Had a mobile AMD Barton 2500xp overclocked running this on an Asus A7N8X board. <3'd that setup!
 

Stoly

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Simply because it was the first time ATI had a huge leap in performance advantage vs nvidia. It took a while for the green team to take the crown back (G92 IIRC?). And hadn't let it go ever since.

I had a FX 5900 back then, one of the best cards I ever had, but performance wise the 9700 and 9800 were indeed better.
 

n370zed

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I remember having a 9800 Pro 128mb and tried my hardest to trade for a FX5900 Ultra due to it having 256mb of vram. Nobody took my offer. I lucked out then lmao.
 

p_monks33

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My first real "Gaming PC" had a 9800 Pro in it with an AMD Athlon XP 2500+ and I think I had 512MB Ram. I was hooked from the get go. I had previously been playing PC games on a Athlon 1000, with a MX440. The 9800 PRO destroyed that thing. Was pretty awesome for its time, I remember wanting to play Soldier of Fortune 2, and getting it when I got that PC, ran like a champ.
 

KATEKATEKATE

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I was almost a 9700 owner back in the day. A neighbor offered to buy me a graphics card of my choice in exchange for dogsitting, my options in the price range were a 9700 or a GeForce FX (either a 5600 or a 5700 can't remember). I was fully bought into NV's massive outrageous hype and chose the GeForce. A decision I still regret to this day lol.
 

jologskyblues

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If I recall correctly, ATi had a great architecture and Nvidia stumbled with the FX5000 series. That's what made the 9700 Pro so good at the time.
 

M76

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The 9800PRO was probably the first hi-end card I purchased. (And last for a long time) I don't remember how good it was, but it did come with a HL2 code for steam.
 

whateverer

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The only reason I didn't pick up a 9700 Pro is because te influx pf multiplayer-only FPSes meant I was playng a lot less of them (spent more time honign my skills in a few). Sine the most demanding game I was playiung in 2002 was Battefield 1942, I had no desire to pay $400 to replace my 6 month old 8500 LE. The card played battlefield just fine at 1024x768.

But it was incredibly tempting to pickl up a 9500 Pro and soft-mod it.

I finally replaced that 8500 with a 6600 GT (after ATI dropped the ball with the x700 XT, and charged way too fucking much for the x700 Pro)
 

TheSlySyl

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I think I missed that one. It was a long time ago, but I remember going from a nvidia 6600GT to an 8800GT. (Then an amd 7850? I feel like I'm missing something in-between.)
 

HockeyJon

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It was great price to performance ratio. 9700pro, 8800gt, and 1080ti are probly the best bang for your back that I can remember. 1080ti was expensive, but it's still a top end card years after release. I'm still using mine at 4k
Yeah, I would consider the 1080Ti in the “generational card” category, same as the 9700. 1080Ti owners got a lot of legs out of that investment.
 

rmfa

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I have the 9700 AIW. The features and the performance for its value was fantastic.

I should dig that box out of storage after the apocalypse is over and see if that Abit BP-6 is still kicking
I had the 9700 AIW too! I loved that thing.
 

Scheibler1

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Loved my Powercolor 9800se that was able to be modded to a Pro! Ohhhh the days!. Had a mobile AMD Barton 2500xp overclocked running this on an Asus A7N8X board. <3'd that setup!
Damn that brings back memories. Had a Barton 2500xp with a shuttle an35n-ultra Mobo. Was so happy to finally have an AGP slot.
Yeah, I would consider the 1080Ti in the “generational card” category, same as the 9700. 1080Ti owners got a lot of legs out of that investment.
I bought one used, got out of of gaming during the mining card shortage and sold it for a profit. Just got back into pc gaming a couple years later and bought it again lol. I'd like a 2080ti, but price doesn't justify the performance. The handful of games I can't run at 4k maxed I'll just wait to play. BFV and COD MW run fine and are my two most played games
 

Burke888

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I was in my early teens when this card released. As you can tell from my join date of 2004 I've been hooked on hardware ever since. The ATI Radeon 9700 Pro was the reason I made an account here.
Speaking from my own personal experience, this card was amazing. It was my first PC hardware purchase and really launched my entire hobby. I bought the ATI Radeon 9700 Pro to upgrade the family Dell machine. I've got the original purchase receipt, packaging, and card to this day. The card ended up lasting well until early 2007. It's still functional and every once in awhile I'll boot up the old Dell to do some retro Windows XP gaming.
 
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