There’s been more than a few problems being reported with the Radeon 9700 and AGP 8X boards. Problems as in usually not working or working badly.
There seems to be some confusion over at ATI about this, people talking with different ATI people are getting different stories.
What is certain is that there is an updated BIOS (version 1.3) which is supposed to take care of this, and that a couple people, including the originator of the abovementioned thread (who happens to be a computer dealer) is getting a replacement card with that new BIOS.
What is also clear is that most if not all cards shipped have a version 1.0 or 1.1 BIOS (I have a 1.1).
Some of these stories talk about these cards needing a BIOS flash; problem is the story goes that the Radeon 9700 is not BIOS-flashable.
Go over to the ATI site, and you don’t find any BIOSes available on the site. Search under “BIOS flash” and in the one instance where they don’t tell you that a mobo BIOS update takes care of the problem, the course of action when the video BIOS needed to be updated was to send the card back (otherwise, why would they want a shipping address from you?)
All this means is that ATI doesn’t usually provide BIOS flashes, which is not proof that they can’t.
When In Doubt, Don’t
In all likelihood, this will require either an RMA or ATI coming up with a video BIOS flash and a revised BIOS.
If it’s the first, losing the card for a couple weeks will not make people very happy, and the conditions under which ATI and/or its partners will RMA are unknown. Don’t assume. If you assume, and you assume wrongly, you may end up spending $350 for a card that you can’t use in the future with an AGP 8X mobo. This is not wise.
If it’s the second, seems like that thought gave more than a few over at the Rage3D forums (and maybe you) the willies.
Until this situation gets straightened out, and ATI says what it’s going to do, just don’t buy the card until they do. You’ll end up with a card you may have to send back for a couple weeks, or worse, might not be able to send back.
If this turns out to be fixable via a BIOS flash, this shouldn’t be a big deal for fearless overclockers who are also functionally literate, but if you fall short on one or more of those criteria, better wait until boards with the new BIOS are available.