ATI Radeon 9200 review: ATI Radeon 9200

  • 1

CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.1
  • Features: 7.0
  • Performance: 7.0
  • Service and support: 8.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Capable performance for a budget card.

The Bad Slower than Nvidia’s budget offering.

The Bottom Line The ATI Radeon 9200 redefines the level of 3D performance for budget graphics cards, but it still trails the competition.

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Review summary

Superfast (and superexpensive) 3D graphics cards might get all the attention, but it's the budget graphics cards that sell the most. It turns out that--deep down--we're not all hard-core gamers after all. Budget cards don't usually muster enough performance to excite anyone with more than a passing interest in gaming, but the latest generation of graphics cards, such as the ATI Radeon 9200, is at least powerful enough to play recently released games--albeit at resolutions that would probably make a serious gamer scoff. Although the Radeon 9200 delivers very capable performance for a budget card, its competitor, the Nvidia GeForce FX 5200, is still noticeably faster.

Budget-minded graphics cards aren't trotted out with a lot of fanfare, and the ATI Radeon 9200 is a typical bare-bones example. The card comes with a driver CD, an installation manual, and little else. The card features VGA, composite, and S-Video outputs. Although it supports simultaneous dual displays, the second is destined to be a TV and not a second CRT. Other budget cards, such as the &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Epny%2Ecom%2Fproducts%2Fverto%2FgeForceFx%2F5200agp%2Ecfm" target="_blank">PNY Verto GeForce FX 5200 AGP, support simultaneous CRTs.

The Radeon 9200 uses 128MB of 200MHz DDR SDRAM and is powered by a 250MHz Radeon 9200 GPU. Although its specs and price are modest in stature, the Radeon 9200 is still a full-height card. Because the memory is positioned along the back end of the card, it can't utilize a half-height design, which will keep it from populating some small-form-factor desktops. It is possible that Radeon 9200-based solutions from other manufacturers might come in a half-height format, perhaps populated by only 64MB of memory.

Radeon 9200 GPU-based cards are starting to become available from other vendors, including &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Ftw%2Egiga%2Dbyte%2Ecom%2F" target="_blank">Gigabyte and &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Epower%2Dcolor%2Ecom" target="_blank">Power Color. In the coming weeks, a slightly speedier version, the Radeon 9200 Pro, is due out from ATI and other manufacturers, such as &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ehightech%2Ecom%2Ehk%2Fhtml%2Findex%2Ehtml" target="_blank">Hightech Information Systems. ATI has yet to publicly release the technical specifications of the Radeon 9200 Pro.

In the not-so-distant past, the level of performance you could expect from a value graphics card was minimal at best. The current generation of value cards, on the other hand, delivers 3D graphics performance worth noting. Obviously, these cards donÂ't provide the kind of performance a game enthusiast would demand, yet they donÂ't cost anywhere near as much as high-end cards do, either.

The Radeon 9200 represents ATIÂ's current-generation entry-level graphics card. Cards based on NvidiaÂ's GeForce FX 5200 GPU, such as the &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Epny%2Ecom%2Fproducts%2Fverto%2FgeForceFx%2F5200agp%2Ecfm" target="_blank">PNY Verto GeForce FX 5200 AGP. Unlike the GeForce FX 5200, the Radeon 9200 does not have full DX9 hardware support. This doesnÂ't mean that the Radeon 9200 wonÂ't play DX9 games when they eventually come out; rather, the 9200 wonÂ't support some of the DX9-specific features that the new games use.

The Radeon 9200 does not support 4X antialiasing (AA) at resolutions higher than 1,280x1,024, which is a limitation weÂ'd chalk up to the card being in the value category if not for the fact that the GeForce FX 5200 does support this feature at high resolutions. ItÂ's not as dire as it might seem: on our tests, at resolutions above 1,024x768 with advanced features enabled, the Radeon 9200Â's performance dropped to frame rates too low for acceptable playback, but we experienced the same issue with the GeForce FX 5200. If you want to use the Radeon 9200Â's image-quality-enhancing AA and anisotropic filtering (AF) features, we recommend using a resolution of 800x600 to abate the performance hit that the advanced features sets enact at higher resolutions.

On CNET LabsÂ' 3DMark03 and Unreal Tournament 2003 tests, the GeForce FX 5200 showed a significant performance edge over the Radeon 9200 at a resolution of 1,024x768. The advantage increased even more when advanced feature sets were enabled--on the Unreal tests with 4X AA and 4X AF enabled, the GeForce FX 5200 was roughly twice as fast as the Radeon 9200. Performance varies with the application, however, as we saw a much tighter race with our Splinter Cell tests: the Radeon 9200 put out a slightly better showing when we used the testÂ's medium-quality settings.

Futuremark's 3DMark03  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,024x768  
1,024x768 with 4X antialiasing  
1,024x768 with 4X antialiasing and 4X anisotropic filtering  
PNY Verto GeForce FX 5200 AGP
1,232 
581 
544 
ATI Radeon 9200
1,157 
329 
311 

Unreal Tournament 2003 test: Flyby-Antalus (in fps)  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,024x768  
1,024x768 with 4X antialiasing  
1,024x768 with 4X antialiasing and 4X anisotropic filtering  
PNY Verto GeForce FX 5200 AGP
61.9 
26.7 
24.2 
ATI Radeon 9200
51.0 
12.0 
12.2 

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell test (in fps)  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,024x768 with medium-quality settings  
1,024x768 with high-quality settings  
1,600x1,200 with medium-quality settings  
1,600x1,200 with high-quality settings  
ATI Radeon 9200
27.3 
16.7 
14.3 
9.9 
PNY Verto GeForce FX 5200 AGP
25.4 
17.5 
13.1 
10.5 

Find out more about how we test graphics cards.

ATI backs the Radeon 9200 with a three-year limited warranty. If you need to return the card to ATI for repair or replacement, you can fill out the difficult to locate &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=https%3A%2F%2Fapps%2Eati%2Ecom%2Frma%2Frma%2Ehtml" target="_blank">Warranty Service Request on ATI's Web site. Alternatively, you can call ATI's toll number for the first 30 days following online registration; after the first 30 days, telephone support is available via a 900-number for $1.25 per minute. ATI's Web site includes driver downloads, e-mail support, user guides, installation tips, technical issues, and FAQs.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Apr 16, 2003
  • Interface Type AGP 8x
  • Compatibility PC
  • Max Monitors Supported 2
  • Graphics Engine ATI Radeon 9200
  • Size 128 MB / 128 MB (max)