ATi certainly isnâ€™t resting on its laurels. It was only about a month ago that the Radeon 9800Pro All-in-Wonder was launched to much critical acclaim. Then last week ATi released the Radeon 9800XT, lauded as the ultimate card to enjoy the forthcoming Half Life 2 experience. Now the Canadian graphics giant has let loose the Radeon 9600Pro All-in-Wonder on an ever expectant public.
Itâ€™s easy to think that the Radeon 9600Pro All-in-Wonder (AIW) is just a poor manâ€™s 9800Pro AIW, but youâ€™d be wrong. Well, thereâ€™s no denying that the 9600Pro AIW will be cheaper than its bigger brother, but there are a few more differences than price alone.
The most obvious difference is the graphics chipset, with the 9600Pro AIW sporting the lower end Radeon 9600Pro chipset. This means that there are only four pipelines instead of the eight which accounts for much of the performance difference. However, ATi has increased the memory clock speed on the 9600Pro AIW to 325MHz (650MHz DDR) for the 128MB of RAM, making it the fastest 9600Pro based solution available.
The backing plate also looks very different from the 9800Pro AIW. Strangely the Radeon 9600Pro AIW doesnâ€™t have DVI output, in fact it doesnâ€™t even have a D-SUB port. What you do have is a proprietary connector that links to a cable with multiple heads. This cable sports two D-SUB connectors, so you can set up a dual display environment. Dual display support was missing from the Radeon 9800Pro All-in-Wonder, but it does have the advantage of DVI support instead. You also get S-Video output, composite video output, stereo audio out and a coaxial SP/DIF.
The purple socket on the card is for the equally purple break-out box. The break-out box gives you S-Video in, composite video in and stereo audio in.
The final two sockets on the backing plate are the TV aerial connector and the FM radio antenna connector.
Also in the box youâ€™ll find the Remote Wonder remote control. The Radeon 9600Pro All-in-Wonder was supposed to ship with the new Remote Wonder II, but ATi did not have samples available at the time of writing so I found the standard Remote Wonder in the box. ATi says that itâ€™s up to the board partners which remote is shipped with the retail cards and Sapphire for example will definitely be shipping the Remote Wonder II with its retail boards.
Anyone whoâ€™s used the Remote Wonder knows that itâ€™s a great device. You can pretty much navigate Windows with it as well as control all the features of the All-in-Wonder card. Of course, itâ€™s not quite as easy to navigate the desktop using the Remote Wonder as it is with a mouse, but if youâ€™re using the All-in-Wonder as the backbone of a living room AV PC, itâ€™s a great bonus not needing to connect a mouse or keyboard. Also, since the Remote Wonder works via RF rather than infrared, thereâ€™s no need to point it at your PC, in fact you donâ€™t even need to be in the same room as the PC to use it.