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 cardcertainly 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.