Radeon 9800 Pro Mac Special Edition

As Apple prepares to release the latest speed-bumped G5s, the original 2GHz machines are beginning to look under-specced. However, owners of such machines needn’t feel completely cut adrift because there are ways to soup-up legacy G5s – with ATI’s Radeon 9800 Pro Mac Special Edition being one such way.

The previous card found in the top G5 was the Radeon 9600 Pro. The 9600 was no slouch, but
its on-board memory of 64MB is massively outstripped by the 9800’s 256MB. The 9800 doesn’t just boast upgraded RAM, but offers double the number of rendering pipelines (eight), and improved technology for smoothing compressed video. It can process over 3 billion pixels per second, which should be enough for anybody. In short, this is the fastest video card available for the G5.

Test results
Using Cinebench benchtest software we saw an improvement in hardware rendering of 3D scenes of over 50 per cent. There was also improved playback of QuickTime and DVD media, though this was subtle. While the Radeon 9800 Pro Special Edition is aimed at those seeking advanced performance for graphics and video it will also speed games, supporting as it does the latest OpenGL standards, meaning the fancy tricks and effects authored by games designers are supported. Yet at £219 only those demanding the ultimate in graphics performance will be tempted.


If you have a need for blazing-fast graphics, or you have a couple of big displays hooked up to your G5, the Radeon 9800 Pro Mac Special Edition is an obvious choice. It isn’t cheap, but is measurably better than anything else available. It will quite happily drive Apple ADC’s, DVI displays, or even old-fashioned VGA analogue monitors. It will power the highest resolutions, or two screens at once.

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