The ATI Radeon 7000's $129 price buys a lot of graphics versatility. The card's PCI interface means it can fit in older Macs that lack AGP slots. Its dual-display support lets you mix and match CRTs, LCDs, and even TVs. The Radeon 7000 features a DVI connector for a digital LCD, a regular VGA connector for an analog CRT or LCD, and an S-Video port for TV output.
Just about everything you need is already in the box, including S-Video and composite cables, plus a pair of monitor adapters. One adapter lets you connect an older Mac display to the Radeon 7000; the other lets you hook up a monitor with a regular VGA cable to the DVI port. The only connection missing is one that lets you attach Apple's current generation of LCD displays, which use the company's proprietary ADC connector. For that, you'll have to shell out an extra $150 for an ADC-to-DVI adapter module.
Though the Radeon is aimed at older Macs, it requires Mac OS 9 or OS X, so you may have to upgrade your system just to use it. Actual installation and setup for the card is pretty easy. If you need assistance, a nicely illustrated, printed manual will guide you through all the steps, including troubleshooting. The driver installation includes the ATI Displays utility for both OS 9 and OS X. This application lets you tweak the card's performance, but the card also works just fine at the default settings. The Radeon 7000 can support resolutions up to 2,048x1,536 with a 60Hz refresh rate, but your eyes will be happier if you lower the resolution and up the refresh rate to a flicker-free 75Hz or higher.
TV output is customized via the Mac2TV applet, which you can activate using the Video Output feature in ATI Displays. Mac2TV lets you fine-tune your TV's performance with special adjustments for color, sharpness, contrast, brightness, flicker, and dot crawl (undesirable jagged edges moving around objects on the screen).
We didn't expect performance miracles from this low-cost graphics card--and CNET Labs' tests didn't witness any. Although hobbled by its PCI bus, the Radeon 7000 actually was faster than the vintage, AGP-based ATI Rage 128 Pro by a modest margin on our test Power Mac G4 (400MHz; 128MB of RAM; OS 9.1), but it couldn't keep up with the regular, AGP-based ATI Radeon Mac edition or the Nvidia GeForce2 MX. Its tepid 3D frame rates aside, the Radeon 7000 works just fine in 2D mode, yielding a clear, sharp picture and a fast screen-refresh rate.
ATI's limited warranty is good for three years and covers parts and labor. Telephone technical support is available via a toll call to the company's Canadian headquarters, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET, excluding holidays. The company's Web site offers e-mail support, driver updates, and FAQs.
Priced for action
ATI's Radeon 7000 offers a graphics infusion to older Macs without tugging too hard at your purse strings. It also offers the benefits of dual-display capabilities and OS X support. Although its tepid 3D performance will keep gamers away, for mainstream users, it's a good upgrade.
|Quake III Arena test|
Frames per second; longer bars indicate better performance
|Compared to AGP-based graphics cards, the ATI Radeon 7000 Mac edition delivers strictly average 3D performance in CNET Labs' Quake III tests. But it's just fine for regular 2D applications for home and business use.|