From articles posted on our site, you know that ATI RADEON 9500-9700 graphics chip family was the most attractive from the price-to-performance point of view until quite recently when NVIDIA launched its GeForce FX 5200-5800 solutions.
But this only concerns graphics cards priced at $120 and higher. What do we have in the >$100 market sector where demand is traditionally the highest? Do the Canadians do well there, too? We know that GeForce4 MX GPUs from NVIDIA have been playing first fiddle there. Of course, the appearance of RADEON 9000/PRO graphics chips from ATI pressed MXs a little. The more so as RADEON 9000 features full DirectX 8.1 support, which the low-end ones from NVIDIA do not have.
Nevertheless, RADEON 9000 didn’t manage to oust GeForce4 MX altogether, but only took a small share of the market. There are a lot of reasons for that, among them – lower performance compared to their predecessor, RADEON 8500 (although the number in the marking is higher – a clear blunder of the marketing people).
So, ATI faced two problems: how to increase RADEON 9000 sales and (more important!) how to clear up their warehouses from RADEON 8500 based cards. You understand that it would be not right to sell the latter at a higher price than the former: this would be an evident inconsistency in the markings. But if they lower the price, RADEON 9000 won’t sell at all: the whole world knows it’s slower than 8500. So, marketing failures bring ATI to money losses.
But they are not green in the business…Their marketing men sat together and found a simple solution. It reads: re-mark RADEON 8500 into 9100 and sell it under this new name. The number corresponds to the speed characteristics of the chip, so there is a chance to pass out the old stock. Moreover, the chip yield of RADEON 8500 is very high (they have polished the tech process at last!), so it makes sense to continue producing these chips (although under a new name).
And so, we have got RADEON 9100, which is nothing else but RADEON 8500LE (moreover, it’s not even the fully-fledged GPU clocked at 275MHz, but a lower-frequency variant). In theory, graphics cards based on this graphics chip should be faster and, accordingly, more expensive. In fact, we see in price-lists that these cards cost about $65-90 depending on the memory size (64MB or 128MB). That’s exactly the price range of RADEON 9000/9000PRO based cards. Seems strange enough, but let’s first get acquainted with RADEON 9100 and check its performance level.