Fourteen days ago we introduced our brand new GPU test suite composed of a total of 18 games, and as shocking as it may be, we tested with more than first person shooters. Unfortunately we launched the new test suite on quite possibly the least important set of cards for such a suite – the ultra high end $500 solutions from ATI and NVIDIA. Ever since the release of the Radeon 9700 Pro we have not had a reason to recommend any $400+ card simply because none of today’s games truly need the kind of power offered by those cards. The Radeon 9700 Pro (and the modded Radeon 9500 Pro) was an excellent solution that could all of the games out at the time at extremely high resolutions, with antialiasing and anisotropic filtering enabled. It was the release of the Radeon 9700 Pro that forced us to start testing with 4X AA and 8X anisotropic filtering all over the place in order to truly stress the beast of a card.

Since the release of the Radeon 9700 Pro however, games have not become any more demanding. The titles that successors like the Radeon 9800 Pro and NVIDIA’s GeForce FX 5900 Ultra were built for, have still yet to be released. The battle between $500 cards will occur with titles like Doom 3 and Half Life 2, both of which won’t see the light until next year. This holiday season should bring a few more stressful DirectX 9 titles to our hard drives, but for the most part, we’ve found it silly to recommend purchasing any of the ultra expensive cards until a game you want to play comes out that requires $500 worth of GPU. Thus, for the most part, introducing a comparison of today’s most popular games did little more than expose driver bugs and show that a lot of games are CPU bound when you’re running a $500 card.

The real comparison starts today, but it won’t end until both ATI and NVIDIA’s cases have been made later this month. The comparison we have in front of us now is amongst much more affordable cards, and most definitely cards that you would buy for their performance in today’s games – not for their promise of sunny days tomorrow. The cards we’re talking about are aimed at that magic $200 price point and given that it’s the fall, it’s time for a refresh of the cards in this segment.

The Radeon 9600 XT is ATI’s $199 successor to the Radeon 9600 Pro and it is their fall refresh product for the mainstream market. Today Radeon 9600 XT will be paired up against NVIDIA’s GeForce FX 5600 Ultra, but later this month we will be able to bring you comparison of the 9600 XT and the new 5700 Ultra, which NVIDIA has been quite confident in as of late.

Before we get to the tests, let’s talk about what’s changed with the 9600 XT…

The definitive Fall Refresh
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  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 15, 2003 - link

    Sorry but these scores are rubbish Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 15, 2003 - link

    Is there a particular reason why a 9500pro card isn't included in these reviews. It seems at least as worthy as the the Ti4200, or I could be just biased because I have a 9500pro. Either way, if you could include it in future reviews it'd be appreciated. Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Wednesday, October 15, 2003 - link

    I agree with #4, the 9800se should be included as it is in the price range. Its widely available and radically different from the 9600pro/xt and fx5600ultra as its got a full 256-bit memory bus. That should certainly help with DX8 titles but its relatively slow four-pipeline (by default) core clocked at 325MHz could be a problem with future shader-intensive DX9 games. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 15, 2003 - link

    Man I love to see how well the 9700 Pro still holds it own after all this time. What a great card! Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 15, 2003 - link

    i remember an article where some guy from ATI said that this card would outperform the 9700 pro. i had serious doubts about such claim and kind of laughed about it.

    and i guess that i was right, as it does not outperform the 9700pro.



    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 15, 2003 - link

    THANKS FOR USING ALL CAPS #8!!

    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 15, 2003 - link

    homeworld 2 ran just fine on my radeon 9500 pro...I'm running the 3.7's though... Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 15, 2003 - link

    /me pets my modded 9500np->9700pro Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 15, 2003 - link

    Nvidia will be back. Not that I care. As long as I can buy a decent card from someone I don't care who it comes from. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 15, 2003 - link

    Any idiot who "built computers for a living" should know better than to shout. Especially in the presence of his superiors. Check the settings again moron. They often AA/AF on and off, as well as V-sync off etc. If you had time to benchmark your systems with all these variables then you had too much time on your hands. Hence the "built" not build. Reply

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