Originally posted October 9th, 2004, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist
It seems, with all the attention to AGP graphics cards, those of you with only PCI slots are forgotten. ATI's Radeon 9200 PCI Mac Edition has given some of you hope. But how good is it on a Blue'n'White G3 or Silver "Yikes" Power Mac?
Thanks to the generosity of Sonnet Technology, we were able to test the Radeon 9200 on their Blue'n'White with a Sonnet 1GHz CPU ZIF upgrade installed. I say, "What's the use of a graphics card upgrade without a CPU upgrade?" It's like upgrading your car's suspension, wheels and tires when you really need a supercharger and dual exhaust or even new engine.
So the questions for this test session are:
1. "How much speed is added by the Radeon 9200 over the stock Rage 128 Pro card?"
2. "Is the Radeon 9200 faster than the Radeon 7000 PCI or the original Radeon PCI card? After all, it has a higher number."
3. "Is the Blue'n'White Power Mac 'bus bound'? Will the Radeon 9200 PCI produce higher frame rates in a G5 Power Mac's PCI-X 100 slot than it will in the Blue'n'White's 66MHz PCI slot?"
4. "Does the G4 Yikes Power Mac with the same 66Mhz PCI slot as the Blue'n'White get more speed out of the Radeon 9200?"
Rage128 = original ATI Rage 128 PCI card that shipped with the G3 Blue'n'White.
Radeon = The original ATI Radeon PCI card
Rad7000 = The ATI Radeon 7000 PCI card
Rad9200 = The ATI Radeon 9200 PCI card
Rad9200 G5 = The ATI Radeon 9200 PCI card in a G5/2.0GHz Power Mac (slot 2).
We would have used UT2004 flyby but the Blue'n'White wouldn't mount the UT2004 Retail CD.
As you can see, the results are mixed with some surprises.
If you still have the original Rage 128 card or even the Radeon 7000 in your G3 Blue'n'White or G4 "Yikes," then the Radeon 9200 Mac Edition is a "no brainer." At $120 you should buy one yesterday. (Ditto for the ZIF CPU upgrade, for that matter.)
If you have the original Radeon PCI card, you might want to stick with it, depending on what apps you run. It was first or second in two of the three tests. Not too shabby.
One caution: upgrading will help with 3D animation and gaming, not with 2D graphics including Quartz 2D and Quartz Extreme. When we ran tests like Let1KWindowsBloom and Quartz Window Bench (which draws various shapes and sizes of transparent, shadowed windows as fast as possible), the Rage 128 scored virtually identical times to the other cards.
I was surprised the Radeon 9200 installed in the G5/2.0MP Power Mac scored so poorly on the UT2003 and Quake3 tests. If you are looking to add a second display to your G5, you are better off with a good AGP dual display card than trying to use a second card in a PCI-X slot.
As for the G4 "Yikes" Power Mac, if you are running the same 1GHz CPU upgrade that we were using, you'll get the same gains that we got on the Blue'n'White. Why? Because we tested them side by side the same day.