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Graphics Software Upgrades Hardware

GeCube All-In-Wonder 9600XT 128M/TV/FM 109

An anonymous reader points to's review of ATi's newest All-In-Wonder product, writing "This looks like a rather nice product if you're running an XPC or similar." He excerpts from the review "It doesn't need an external power source, instead it's quite happy sucking from the AGP slot. The end result? Small form factor PC owners will quite happily be able to slot one into their boxes and run it without an issue. The one slot cooler and cool running RV360 core conspire to make sure heat won't be an issue in those enclosed spaces either."
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GeCube All-In-Wonder 9600XT 128M/TV/FM

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  • No Molex connector (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GweeDo ( 127172 ) on Sunday July 04, 2004 @04:09PM (#9607949) Homepage
    That is what really suprises me and makes me happy. With the relativily low power PSU that come stock in XPC's this is great. Couple this with a new AMD XP Mobile (45W) processor and you got a nice setup in your new iDeq or Shuttle :)
    • by DeathPenguin ( 449875 ) * on Sunday July 04, 2004 @04:20PM (#9608028)
      The 9600 models never needed a molex connector, though the 9800 model did and all products based off the newer cores from ATi.

      It's an old part.
      • I am aware this is a slightly older chip. I only note this because of the addition of the TV tuner and FM tuner and such. It is always nice to see a good card with lots of features not hurting those poor 200W PSU's and such ;)
    • by Fweeky ( 41046 )
      Don't forget AMD's upcoming low power AMD64s and (if you're rich) Opterons. 30-45W :)

      Getting easier to see how they're going to cope with dual core now; at this rate they'll end up running cooler than my old 1.4GHz Thunderbird, even without clock scaling.
    • Meh. I have a Radeon 9800 Pro and a SB Audigy2 filling the slots in my Shuttle XPC with the default 200W power supply.

      I've had no stability problems at all, even when playing Far Cry.
      • That's good to know. I have a Shuttle XPC myself, but was afraid to go with a 9800 - I just wasn't sure if that tiny PSU would be able to shoulder it, and installed a 9600XT instead.

        Now, since the X800 consumes a bit less than the 9800 I know I can safely upgrade when the time comes. Thanks!
  • Hardware encoding (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kneecarrot ( 646291 ) on Sunday July 04, 2004 @04:15PM (#9607980)
    I am still waiting for an ATI board with tv-tuner capability that offers hardware-based MPEG-2 encoding of the tv signal. A home theatre PC based on one of these cards will show 10 times the CPU usage and half the quality that a box based on a Hauppauge PVR-250 offers. No comparison, really.
    • Re:Hardware encoding (Score:4, Informative)

      by IWKUA ( 789737 ) on Sunday July 04, 2004 @04:31PM (#9608081)
      Not sure if this is what your looking for but, Nvidia's card [] offers that: "The products will include a TV tuner card with hardware MPEG-2 encoding"
    • Re:Hardware encoding (Score:5, Informative)

      by tsangc ( 177574 ) on Sunday July 04, 2004 @05:11PM (#9608323)
      It's called the ATI eHome Wonder, a MCE2004 class (Connexant Blackbird MPEG2) card:

      Not an AIW Tuner+graphics combo, but an individual tuner. It's quite well done. Hardware seems okay and it's cheap.
      • "It's called the ATI eHome Wonder, a MCE2004 class (Connexant Blackbird MPEG2) card:"

        Interesting, but according to the picture on that page, it can't be a blackbird. Blackbird is the codeword that conexant uses for the cx2388x + cx23415 reference design. That means that a blackbird card has those two chips plus the SDRAM chip that is needed for the xc23415. The picture on the ati page only shows two chips that look like a cx23415 with its SDRAM, which likely is much more similar to the Hauppauge PVR250 tha
    • FWIW, ATI has an OEM e-home wonder card that mpeg2 encoding (and is only a half height PCI card) for use in windows MCE machines/bundles... but you can't really get them at like newegg or the like.

      Although, I hear ya... hardware encoding is where it's at, and you'd have to pry my pvr350 from machine while I angrily protest for you to stop... =P

    • Why would anyone want mpeg-2 encoding? The only reason I could see it is for simple straight-to-dvd recording.

      I would prefer a nice high bitrate mjpeg or dv recording, (or huffyuv if I could afford it) then I can do my own mpeg-2 conversion AFTER the video has been processed and is exactly how I want ..

      mpeg-2 is a decent playback format, but sucks to edit (wasn't meant for that).
    • I harware encoding is available on some AIW products. The 9600 has it.
      If you goto ati's site and use thier 'product compare' [] feature it shows 9600 and higher as doing encoding with hardware. But not all AIW radeon models are available to compare.

    • Do you find that CPU usage is a problem? Granted, with something like a VIA Eden, it would be, but I've got an XP2400+ and it seems to encodes MJPEGs quite happily at 768x576 with only about 20% CPU usage - which I can then transcode, cos Mythtv, like nearly every other PVR system out there, is good at that sort of thing.

      It also means I can run filters on the pre-encoded signal - otherwise I'd presumably be limited to whatever the PVR hardware is capable of doing before it runs the signal through its comp
      • I did find CPU usage a problem, but then again I didn't have anything near to what you were using. I had an old Thunderbird 1.0Ghz. I found encoding at 768x576 to take around 80% which basically meant the box could only singletask while recording. I figured I could either spend $250 on a new CPU/Mobo or upgrade to a PVR250. I'm glad I chose the PVR250... the overall quality of experience has risen significantly.
  • Linux? (Score:2, Interesting)

    Is this now the best TV tuner card for linux or is it going to be 2 years before a proper X server comes out?

    It's only slightly off topic to ask, but what's the best video card in this market?
    • Re:Linux? (Score:5, Informative)

      by MikeXpop ( 614167 ) <mike.redcrowbar@com> on Sunday July 04, 2004 @04:24PM (#9608045) Journal
      If you're looking for a TV tuner card for linux, ignore this. The only drivers for it do not support capture or TV-out.
    • Re:Linux? (Score:3, Informative)

      by LostCluster ( 625375 ) *
      I don't think ATI's ever supplied a full Linux driver for their TV tuner products. They simply have never bothered to write a version of their ATI Multimedia Center for Linux. I'm sure people have tried to come up with an open source version, but since they're working from the outside in they have the deck stacked against them.
      • I have a TV-Wonder PCI in my new Linux box. It works flawlessly with the kernel drivers (V4L's bttv). I use tvtimes as the tuner software. Both of these beat ATI's drivers and software. Really, tvtimes supports a buttload of features that ATI's MMC does not have (XDS (channel/show information), fine tuning, output filters, etc...), and no licensing bullshit. As for the drivers, I guess since they are already in the kernel, they didn't bother writing any. They even recommend [] it!

        I say ATI is the one that
    • Re:Linux? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 04, 2004 @04:43PM (#9608162)
      Try the Hauppauge PVR-250 or PVR-350 (or generic versions using the same chipset.) Linux support is fantastic (I should know, I'm the co-author of the ivtv driver) and much better than the ATI All-in-Wonder cards, if you actually want to capture MPEG video in addition to just video overlay.
      • ivtv has worked out great for me. Thank you!

        My only disappointment is that making DVDs and SVCDs from the streams isn't as straightforward as I thought it would be. I don't want to transcode.

        How should I set mythtv to get the right codec/stream params? Is remuxing always necessary? If so, which toolchain is best?

  • by glassjaw rocks ( 793596 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {elzneikb}> on Sunday July 04, 2004 @04:17PM (#9608002)
    My dad just recentley purchased one of these, and I put it in about 4 or 5 hours ago, the card works like a dream, the only problem is, he uses the computer for ebay.

    And that's all.
  • Now if only there was a model based off a newer core (X800) and ATi's driver support for Linux weren't so pitiful.
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Sunday July 04, 2004 @04:18PM (#9608012)
    One of my complaints with earlier AIW models is that they didn't support dual display setups fully because the TV window couldn't draw on the additional monitors. The double-VGA support take appears care of this issue, but I'm not sure how it'd handle having an additional PCI card for a third monitor.
  • zerg (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lord Omlette ( 124579 ) on Sunday July 04, 2004 @04:21PM (#9608031) Homepage
    I know it's just wishful thinking, but I can't wait for a workstation class card that doesn't require a fan... Damn thing (FireGL X1) makes more noise than everything else in my room combined... And according to the article, this new card won't change that.
    • Re:zerg (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 )
      For a while, I had an ATI FireGL X1 (128MB?). I didn't experience any objectionable noise from it, even for the short times I had the side panel off.

      Maybe you could complain to the maker? It might be something they can exchange.
      • Re:zerg (Score:3, Funny)

        Actually I got it off eBay for 1/5th the price, so it would be kinda silly for me to complain... Easier to bitch on Slashdot than actually do something about it.

        You say "for a while", what did you switch to?
    • Vrey true. The fan requirement pretty much rules it out of use in my Home Theater PC (a Shuttle cube) as the thing is loud enough already. I'd prefer slightly crippled 3d ability to get rid of that fan.
      • Yeah, I'd say that the plain old AIW 9600 [] would be a better choice. Slower, but fanless. Or one could replace the heatsink/fan with a Zalman VGA heatsink (I've got one on my 9700), but that probably wouldn't fit in a Shuttle cube.
    • If fan noise irritates you why not put a quiet fan on the chip yourself or better yet upgrade to watercoolin system.
    • If you don't mind 10-15 minutes worth of manual labor you can slap one of these [] on and leave the fan unplugged. I've done it and it works just fine. Although mine isn't AIW and you may have trouble fitting the heatsink around the TV tuner.
    • perpahs a pci slot fan [] mounted in the 1st PCI slot would help cool the card, keeping the jet turbine that most graphics cards makers are adding these days from cranking up to full RPM's.
      • perpahs a pci slot fan mounted in the 1st PCI slot would help cool the card, keeping the jet turbine that most graphics cards makers are adding these days from cranking up to full RPM's.

        You may be totally correct, but I can't help but to think of the joke: What makes more noise than a pig stuck under a fence? Two pigs stuck under a fence.

        Using two fans just *might* be noisier than one.
    • A 9600 (the non-pro version) runs quite happily with passive cooling, you just need to look around a bit to find one (Sapphire makes one).
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Sunday July 04, 2004 @04:29PM (#9608072)
    As the review points out, ATI's software is now designed to take advantage of finding an AIW and a TV Wonder PCI card in the same machine, such as picture-in-picture and having both tuners record at the same time. In addition, ATI's TV products for quite a while have shipped with Gemstar's Guide+ software that provides TV listings that are integrated with ATI's software.

    This combination is about as good as it gets for people who get their signals by analog cable... but if you have digital cable or DBS, it can't control your tuner box yet. They've got to work on that issue...
  • Neat stuff, but it still wants an IR dongle to control cable and satellite receivers. I know you can cobble up a third party solution, but you shouldn't need to.
    • it's better to have a dongle.. (of course maybe one should be included in the package)

      if the IR blaster was integrated into the card, your computer would have to be in front of the other devices which means the user cannot also control them... just a thought
  • Linux support? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Sunday July 04, 2004 @04:33PM (#9608090)
    I know, I know, they'll be hundreds of these posts...

    But still, I think what 90% of people out there want in a computer is
    a) Email and Web browsing.
    b) Office apps.
    and c) Digital content creation. i.e. Simple Pictures and Movie editing.

    Linux has the frist two, but it's lacking on the third. Yeah, the BTXXX cards work great, but it'd be nice to have a single all in one solution like this (actually, it'd be nice if it was based on a cheaper video chipset, but I digress).

    Oh, and Linux needs an easy to use video editor. Cinelerra's the Gimp of video editing. It's the poster child for overkill when all most want is cut and pasting and some simple transitions.
    • Re:Linux support? (Score:2, Informative)

      by geckofiend ( 314803 )
      Sounds like maybe you shouldn't be thinking... ;)

      The last AIW was recognized as just about the worst capture card on the market. All in one solutions are great for folks who don't know any better and think they're getting somethign great.

      The PVR250/350, Avermedia M179 and Yuan MPG600 lines of hardware MPEG2 capture cards are by far superior and have excellent Linux support.

      Easy video editor? Avidemux2 is pretty darn easy.
  • It's analog (Score:2, Informative)

    by Bram Stolk ( 24781 )
    This card has no DVI, meaning that you have
    to do a totaly useless digital->analog->digital
    conversion when hooking up to a flat panel.
    • The review sucks as well. He says that getting dual vga is an acceptable compromise to gain dual-display, whats wrong with dvi/vga and a dvi->vga converter like the nvidia boards have?
      • Power constraints were my understanding, the review seemed to be biased towards Small Form Factor PCs
        • How does having a DVI connector consume more power than VGA?
          • I was trying to find the article to back up my statement, however I cant seem to find it. My understanding then, is that dvi-> vga uses more power than vga -> vga so power wise it is cheaper to add a vga -> dvi connector than to run dvi -> vga. I could of course be way off the mark and it may just be a cash issue as 15 pin vga d-subs are cheaper than dvi ...

            I thought it was on one of the embedded lists I read, I will check there after some sleep.
      • Some AIW products do this, including the original AIW-Radeon I have sitting on a shelf, one vga and one dvi connector.
        The AIW-9600 does not however, it has dual vga adapters.

    • Then get an AIW 9000 or an AIW 9800. The AIW 9000 has a DVI port and requires no external power. However the AIW 9000 does not support component video out. However with the right cable the DVI port will work with an HDTV with a DVI port. The AIW 9800 has a DVI port, but has the external power requirement. The AIW 9800 also has component video out. Like the AIW 9000, with the right cable the DVI port will work with an HDTV with a DVI port. Samsung sells a 26" direct view HDTV with a DVI port and a bui
  • Beware (Score:1, Informative)

    by vandan ( 151516 )
    ATI's Linux drivers suck arse.
    I get better performance under UT2004 from my R100 ( Radeon 7200 ) with the open-source DRI drivers than I get from my R350 ( Radeon 9600 ) with ATI's drivers.

    Honestly, you are better off with a Radeon 7200.
    • Use the 3.2.8 drivers for speed, 3.9.0 for compatibility. I hate the drivers as well, but the 3.2.8 set isn't unbearably slow
    • What's more, their GUI "Media Center" program sucks, too. Very bad interface with unlabeled cryptic buttons and clunky layout... Not that I'm satisfied with any video player's UI, they all seem to have been made by bad artists with no experience in UI design.

      Do you know how good their drivers are for video stuff? What's a good capture card for Linux?
    • Last time I checked Xi Graphics' 3D Accelerated X had excellent support for most of the Radeons. If you're willing to pony up a little cash, it's well worth looking into.
  • IIRC, the ATI All-In-Wonder cards don't work with MythTV under Linux.
    • you do remember correctly, this is oh so sadly true. The AIW cards are good cards under linux, i just wish they would work with myth tv. But on the other hand, there are cheapo tv cards out there that cost less than $50.00 that work beautifully with myth tv. I was able to to build a cheap PVR using myth, and 50.00 dollar card 258mb ram, 200 GB HD, and an AMD 2700 for less than $400.00, runs great.... although the tv card has no tv out so to watch what i record i have to network in the computer with the A
  • I bought a refurbed 9600 xt AIW for an XPC that I was building for a girl and I thought I could save her some money so I bought a refurb from Newegg. It doesn't come with anything but the card. No, remote, no FM antenna, no proprietary cable. I ended up spending $40 ($20 for the cable $20 for express shipping) buying the proprietary cable that you have to use to connect the card to a monitor. Even then, the tv part of the card didn't work and had to be disabled so the computer wouldn't crash. So, I hope
  • by __aatgod8309 ( 598427 ) on Sunday July 04, 2004 @08:35PM (#9609620)
    I'd be curious to know when this review was written. The review date given is July 3rd 2004, but it states "The driver CD comes with CATALYST 4.0, RemoteWonder 1.6, MMC 8.1 and an up to date version of ATI's DVD decoder. 4.4, 2.3 and 9.0 are available respectively, so a quick trip to ATI's website will get you current."

    The current Catalyst version is 4.6 [] (posted on June 9th, almost a month ago), and i think with the average time between Catalyst releases being around a month (i'm sure someone can correct me if i'm wrong - probably loudly, and with much flaming) that would make the review a month or two old... (and there are newer versions of RemoteWonder ( [] posted 3/19/04) and MMC (9.1 [], posted 06/24/04) as well.)

    And yes, i'm well aware i'm being difficult, pedantic and/or contrary.
  • by Proudrooster ( 580120 ) on Sunday July 04, 2004 @09:21PM (#9609824) Homepage
    Since most XPC's have 2 slots (AGP + PCI) to me this makes more sense.
    For a Dual Display with Video Capture, get this combo.

    For triple display, Dual VGA and TV Set, with FM radio get this combo.

    I was hoping to see more discussion on this thread. I have an XPC and am borrowing a PVR-250 and it works really well. Only a 10-20% hit on a 3.0GHz CPU when recording at DVD quality. To stress the system I started 3 FTP downloads (3 MB/s), started burning a CD, streamied a 128k station with Winamp, editing pics with Adobe Photoshop, watched previously recorded show, and recorded TV with the Hauppage card. The system worked fine. I thought for sure that the single IDE disk would bottleneck, but no problems.

    IMHO, the ATI AIW 9600XT is out because it doesn't have hardware MPEG compression and it has another fan to make noise. I think the playback with the AIW is easier on the CPU since the overlay happens on the card, however recording must hammer the system CPU . Can anyone tell us what CPU/Disk I/O look like while recording at DVD quality on the ATI?
    • Excerpt from Viperlair [] It looks like the ATI does do H/W MPEG.

      Usually found in high end pro-sumer video cards, the AIW 9600 Pro brings hardware MPEG-2 decoding and MPEG-2 encoding to the consumer level. The Cobra Engine is capable of Inverse Discrete Cosine Transform (iDCT), which is really a fancy way of saying it can decode MPEG-2 streams with minimal CPU usage. This can make a difference when viewing DVDs on your PC, as you no longer have to shop for a dedicated DVD decoder, and no longer have to rel
    • In this review: inema/index.x?pg=1 , which also features the NVIDIA Personal Cinema FX 5700. Sorry, no disk utilization, though.
  • why not just buy the ATI AIW 9600XT and get the real thing? The writer states he would give the one tested a 10 out of 10 if it were under 200 pounds. Picked up one today ( ATI ) for $219.99 so he should be able to give it the 10.
  • not an ATI card (Score:2, Informative)

    by juventasone ( 517959 )
    I can't believe no slashdotters have pointed out timothy's mistake of calling it "ATi's newest All-In-Wonder". This is not an ATI card, it is a GeCube card. The reviewer gets it right in all occasions, as does the poster. ATI does indeed make All-In-Wonders, but they don't make them all. While I see this mistake all the time, I don't expect it from any self-respecting geek with any hardware knowledge.
  • So you spend 300 plus dollars to get a 17-inch TV? A lot of places have larger screen TV's for less money.

Recent investments will yield a slight profit.