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          Radeon 9600XT - Mainstream Muscle?

Product :

  Radeon 9600XT

Manufacturer :


Reviewed by :

  Wayne Brooker

Price :

  £150 Approx

Date :

 15th October 03


   Page No:   1
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Introduction :::...


I can't remember the last time a graphics card manufacturer had it so good. ATi have been sitting pretty at the top of the performance league table for what seems like an eternity and remarkably they've had to do very little to stay there. Even this, their traditional fall refresh didn't involve any major tweaks or fundamental redesigns, instead ATi have been able to cash in on the improved efficiency of the manufacturing process to provide them with a boost in core clock speed. Hey, if it ain't broke why fix it?

Apparently this new core draws on Applied Materials' Black Diamond(tm) low k technology, which in laymen's terms means ATi are able to design and manufacture denser circuitry by lowering the resistance along the wire interconnects that route the current. Lower power draw and less generated heat are just some of the other welcome consequences of the low k process.

Today's subject is ATi's Radeon 9600XT, the fall refresh of their incredibly popular 9600 Pro and although memory clocks remain unchanged at 600MHz (300MHz DDR) the 100MHz increase in core clock takes it to an impressive sounding 500MHz. There's no new features to get excited about but I for one think that's a plus. We've spent too long wondering if any games are likely to support the latest GPU fad, let's get some good, honest support for what's around now before we try to find the next T&L!

Okay, so let's get to it. Let me apologize right here at the start if this review looks a little rushed, that's because it is. I got hold of this card at 5pm yesterday and have spent no more than four hours with it so although I can't pretend to have been as thorough as perhaps I'd have liked, nor to have run as many benchmarks as some may feel I should, I have got a pretty good feel for what the 9600XT is all about.

First the specs:


System Requirements
  • Intel® Pentium® 4/III/II/Celeron™, AMD® K6/Duron™/Athlon®/Athlon XP® or compatible with AGP 4X (1.5V), 8X (0.8v) or Universal AGP 3.0 bus configuration (4X/8X).
  • 128MB of system memory
  • Installation software requires CD-ROM drive
  • DVD playback requires DVD drive
Graphics Technology
  • RADEON™ 9600 XT, RADEON™ 9600 PRO, RADEON™ 9600 or RADEON™ 9600 SE Visual Processing Unit (VPU)
Memory Configuration
  • 128MB of double data rate SDRAM
Operating Systems Support
  • Windows® XP
  • Windows® 2000
  • Windows® Me
Display Support
  • VGA connector for analog CRT
  • S-video connector for TV / VCR 1
  • DVI-I connector for digital flat panel 2
  • Independent resolutions and refresh rates for any two connected displays

1 Optional S-Video to Composite Adapter available separately from ATI Online Store.
2 Optional DVI to VGA adapter allows connection to a second VGA monitor.
  Available separately from your retailer or the ATI Online Store.

  • 4 parallel rendering pipelines
  • 2 parallel geometry engines
  • 128-bit DDR memory interface (64-bit on RADEON™ 9600 SE)
  • AGP 8X support
    • Programmable pixel and vertex shaders
    • 16 textures per pass
    • Pixel shaders up to 160 instructions with 128-bit floating point precision
    • Vertex shaders up to 1024 instructions with flow control
    • Multiple render target support
    • Shadow volume rendering acceleration
    • High precision 10-bit per channel frame buffer support
    • Supports DirectX® 9.0 and the latest version of OpenGL®
    • 2x/4x/6x full scene anti-aliasing modes
      • Adaptive algorithm with programmable sample patterns
    • 2x/4x/8x/16x anisotropic filtering modes
      • Adaptive algorithm with bi-linear (performance) and tri-linear (quality) options
    • Lossless Z-Buffer compression (up to 24:1)
    • Fast Z-Buffer Clear
  • TRUFORM™ 2.0
    • 2nd generation N-Patch higher order surface support
    • Discrete and continuous tessellation levels per polygon
    • Displacement mapping
    • Seamless integration of pixel shaders with video
    • FULLSTREAM™ video de-blocking technology
    • Noise removal filtering for captured video
  • MPEG-2 decoding with motion compensation, iDCT and color space conversion
  • All-format DTV/HDTV decoding
  • YPrPb component output*
  • Adaptive de-interlacing and frame rate conversion
  • Dual integrated display controllers
  • Dual integrated 10-bit per channel 400 MHz DACs
  • Integrated 165 MHz TMDS transmitter (DVI 1.0 compliant)
  • Integrated TV Output support up to 1024x768 resolution
  • Optimized for Pentium® 4 SSE2 and AMD Athlon™ 3Dnow!
  • PC 2002 compliant

*with optional HDTV adapter available from ATI Online Store

  • 3-year limited warranty

Mode Tables

Resolutions, colors and maximum refresh rates (Hz) in 256, 65K or 16.7M colors


Monitor Resolution Hz


800x600 120
1024x768 120
1152x864 120
1280x1024 120
1600x1200 85
1920x1080* 16:9 75
1920x1200 75
1920x1440 75
2048x1536 60

*16:9 aspect ratio monitors are supported on 1920x1080 and 848x480 on Windows® XP, Windows® 2000 and Windows® ME. The complete list of resolutions depends on the driver version and operating system. NOTE: resolutions are limited by the performance of the attached monitor.

  (with 128MB Frame Buffer)
65K colors 2048x1536
16.7M colors 2048x1536


The architecture should look familiar. 4 pipelines each with a single texture unit fabricated on a 0.13micron process. Dual 64bit memory controllers




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