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ATI All-In-Wonder 9800 Pro review: ATI All-In-Wonder 9800 Pro

ATI All-In-Wonder 9800 Pro

Rich Brown Former Senior Editorial Director - Home and Wellness
Rich was the editorial lead for CNET's Home and Wellness sections, based in Louisville, Kentucky. Before moving to Louisville in 2013, Rich ran CNET's desktop computer review section for 10 years in New York City. He has worked as a tech journalist since 1994, covering everything from 3D printing to Z-Wave smart locks.
Expertise Smart home, Windows PCs, cooking (sometimes), woodworking tools (getting there...)
Rich Brown
5 min read
Three hundred ninety-nine dollars is a lot to pay for the privilege, but those who are willing to pony up for the ATI All-In-Wonder 9800 Pro will treat themselves to a potent 3D graphics card that also turns a computer into a powerful multimedia device. Not only does ATI include free personal video-recording software, the package overflows with video ports and adapters that allow you to connect your PC to a remarkable variety of video sources and displays. Hard-core gamers, video and movie enthusiasts, and everyone who falls somewhere in between are certain to find great utility in this package. You will want to hang on to your television, but ATI's $399 128MB All-In-Wonder 9800 Pro is an extremely potent continuation of ATI's long-running line of 3D graphics/TV tuner combo cards. It is not the most recent entry in the line (that honor goes to the soon-to-be-released All-In-Wonder 9600 XT), but by integrating ATI's second most powerful 3D graphics chip, the Radeon 9800 Pro, the All-In-Wonder 9800 Pro becomes the ideal choice for those who like to watch TV and movies between frag sessions.
Installing the All-In-Wonder 9800 Pro is a somewhat convoluted process, due in large part to the significant software revisions that have been made since the product's initial release. Like most modern graphics cards, the All-In-Wonder 9800 Pro requires a direct connection to your PC's power supply, and ATI wisely includes a cable to accommodate whatever type of internal power connectors you have available. The bundled driver software is several versions out-of-date, but new drivers are easily located on "--="" rel="nofollow" class="c-regularLink" target="_blank">&siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex_1&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Eati%2Ecom">ATI's Web site, and the update process is a breeze. Less intuitive is updating the Multimedia Center application software, which requires three separate downloads in order to make the suite current.
As has traditionally been the case with the All-In-Wonder series, ATI bundles a variety of ports, adapters, and extension cables with the All-In-Wonder 9800 Pro. On the rear of the card, there are a VGA port, an S-Video out, and a DVI-I (digital video interface) port, as well as a coaxial input for the television signal. For those who want to connect two CRT monitors, ATI includes a DVI-to-VGA adapter. Separate in and out adapters for an RCA video/audio signal (complete with digital audio plugs) interface with the All-In-Wonder 9800 Pro's S-Video port. This means that you can output a signal from your PC to a VCR and also that Xbox owners can display games on their PC monitor, taking advantage of that console's support for higher-resolution output than television's standard 640x480. And though the All-In-Wonder 9800 Pro has no capability for decoding an HDTV signal, an included HDTV adapter lets you at least display your PC output on an HDTV.
One standout piece of the ATI All-In-Wonder 9800 Pro package is its Multimedia Center software suite. In addition to DVD, VideoCD, and other media-player software, the highlight feature is the TiVo-like built-in DVR capability. ATI includes a free channel guide that--provided you can input your cable TV signal directly to the card--allows you to use your computer's hard drive to record live TV. One oversight here is the lack of an IR blaster. If your signal needs to come through a cable box before it reaches your television, the DVR capability is rendered useless since the All-In-Wonder 9800 Pro can't decode the cable signal, which then means that the channel guide won't sync properly in order to let you automate recording.
If you can input an unadulterated cable signal, the All-In-Wonder 9800 Pro's Remote Wonder remote control is very handy for switching channels and working with the various Multimedia Center media players. The Remote Wonder also features all of the onscreen controls accompanying the DVR functionality, as well as an analog mouse control button.
When the All-In-Wonder line was originally released in 1997, its 3D performance was largely inferior to that of comparable ATI graphics cards. Fortunately, this is no longer the case. Our benchmarks show that there is no statistically significant performance difference between the 128MB ATI All-In-Wonder 9800 Pro and even the 256MB version of the ATI Radeon 9800 Pro (of course, with larger textures there's likely to be a visible difference, thanks to the Radeon's increased memory, but few games are currently available for which this would become an issue). So, in addition to some powerful capabilities as a multimedia device, the All-In-Wonder 9800 Pro's benchmark scores place it among top-of-the-line 3D graphics cards, as well.
Unreal Tournament 2003 test: Flyby-Antalus (in fps)  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,600x1,200 with 4X antialiasing and 8X anisotropic filtering  
1,024x768 with 4X antialiasing and 8X anisotropic filtering  

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell test (in fps)  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,600x1,200 with high-quality settings  
1,600x1,200 with medium-quality settings  
1,024x768 with high-quality settings  
1,024x768 with medium-quality settings  

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 (in fps)  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,600x1,200 with 4X antialiasing and 8X anisotropic filtering  
1,024x768 with 4X antialiasing and 8X anisotropic filtering  

Find out more about how we test graphics cards.
The paper manual included with the ATI All-In-Wonder 9800 Pro proves useful, but the online support truly shines. FAQs cover the card, the driver software, the Multimedia Center software, all of the included cables, and even general matters, such as system BIOS tweaks and operating system-specific issues. Easily located driver updates simplify bringing the software up-to-date, and the product manual and its warranty information are available, as well.
As to the warranty, ATI backs the All-In-Wonder 9800 Pro with five years of limited coverage. Technical support is available via e-mail and telephone, although the phone coverage varies based on how long you have owned the card. All phone support is available from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET. For the first 30 days of ownership, support is free, after which you can call a toll-free number at a rate of $19.95 per minute and a toll number at $1.25 per minute.

ATI All-In-Wonder 9800 Pro

Score Breakdown

Design 0Features 8Performance 8Support 7