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All-In-Wonder Radeon 8500DV vs. Personal Cinema


ATI's Radeon 8500DV vs. NVIDIA's Personal Cinema
— 11:00 PM on July 7, 2002

NVIDIA ANNOUNCED THE Personal Cinema last year, and a lot of people let out a sigh of relief. Finally, some capable competition for the integrated digital video graphics crown had arrived. Up until the Personal Cinema's launch, there really wasn't a competent competitor for ATI's All-In-Wonder series of graphics cards (well, unless you count Matrox). These cards were based off various Radeon cores. They integrated TV tuners for couch potatoes and a slew of video input and output ports for video editing, and NVIDIA didn't have anything even close.

Until the Personal Cinema arrived, you were forced to fill a PCI slot with a TV tuner/video capture card if you wanted to run an NVIDIA-based AGP card—certainly not the best solution considering ATI's ability to integrate the same features into its own AGP graphics cards.

For the first time in a while, NVIDIA has a lot of catching up to do. ATI has a head start several years long. ATI has a pretty good product in the DV graphics card arena, their Radeon 8500DV. NVIDIA, on the other hand, still has its inaugural Personal Cinema in Visiontek's Xtasy Everything 5594. Though both target roughly the same audiences, the cards and philosophies behind them couldn't be more different. Can NVIDIA match ATI's All-In-Wonder experience with its first shot at the market? Let's find out.

ATI All-In-Wonder Radeon 8500DV
The first of our two DV graphics cards is ATI's All-In-Wonder Radeon 8500DV. Let's see what she's got to offer.


Beneath lurks ATI's 8500 GPU

The Radeon 8500 is ATI's latest graphics core (for a little while, at least), and they've given it some All-In-Wonder love with the Radeon 8500DV. The Radeon 8500 GPU brings full vertex and pixel shaders to the table as part of its full DirectX 8.1 implementation, and it should be as future-proof as any other graphics card you can buy right now.


ATI packs a whole lot onto the PCB

All-In-Wonder cards like the Radeon 8500DV use quite a few more chips than your average graphics card, and ATI elects to place these chips directly onto the card's PCB rather than have them in a separate breakout box.


All the 8500DV's memory chips adorn the back of the PCB

With so many DV-related chips on the front side of the PCB, there's no room for any of the Radeon 8500DV's memory chips, which are relegated to the back of the card.


Samsung DDR rated to 200MHz

Memory comes courtesy of Samsung, and is only rated to run at 200MHz. Wait a minute? Isn't the Radeon 8500 supposed to have a faster memory clock than that? Well, yes and no. ATI shuffles clock speeds around quite a bit with its Radeon line; the Radeon 8500, 8500LE, and 8500DV all have different core and memory clock speeds. Unfortunately, ATI still isn't advertising these clock speeds prominently on the cards' boxes or on their web site.


CATV, DVI, dongle, and Firewire connectors grace the 8500DV's backplate

ATI's placement of DV-related chips directly on the PCB makes for an interesting backplate, which includes connectors for CATV, DVI, IEEE 1394 Firewire, and the Radeon 8500DV's dongle. Things look pretty packed, and right off the bat, you might wonder if the Radeon 8500DV will support your analog CRT monitor.


ATI's DVI-to-VGA adapter