The graphics card vendors are the worst about announcing products before they are publicly available and even before we're able to bring you performance numbers from the parts. Case in point would be the March 6th release of ATI's Radeon 9600 Pro, it has taken this long for us to receive a shipping sample to bring you performance data based on.

We won't be focusing on the architecture or technology behind the Radeon 9600 Pro in this article, as we've already covered that in our original story, but we will revisit one important topic before diving into benchmarks - what to compare the Radeon 9600 Pro to.

The Radeon 9600 Pro is the perfect example of bigger numbers not necessarily meaning higher performance; as we noted in our overview of the RV350's technology, the Radeon 9600 Pro is actually more like a regular Radeon 9500 than a Radeon 9500 Pro. Have a look at the following table to help you understand why:

-
Manufacturing Process
Architecture
Rendering Pipelines
Texture Units per Pipe
Core Clock
Memory Bus
Memory Clock
Memory Bandwidth
ATI Radeon 9600 Pro
0.13-micron
DX9
4
1
400MHz
128-bit
300MHz
9.6GB/s
ATI Radeon 9500 Pro
0.15-micron
DX9
8
1
275MHz
128-bit
270MHz
8.64GB/s
ATI Radeon 9500
0.15-micron
DX9
4
1
275MHz
128-bit
270MHz
8.64GB/s
NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 Ultra
0.13-micron
DX9
4
1
350MHz
128-bit
350MHz
11.2GB/s
NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4600
0.15-micron
DX8
4
2
300MHz
128-bit
325MHz
10.4GB/s
NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4200
0.15-micron
DX8
4
2
250MHZ
128-bit
222MHz
7.1GB/s

As you can see, the Radeon 9500 Pro was quite a fluke in that it was basically a slightly detuned Radeon 9700 Pro whereas the Radeon 9600 Pro is much more castrated, which is what you would expect from a $150 - $199 mainstream card.


ATI's Radeon 9600 Pro - Thanks to a 0.13-micron manufacturing process it requires very little cooling

Compared to the NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 Ultra, the Radeon 9600 Pro has a higher core clock but lesser memory bandwidth, meaning we should be in for a fairly close performance comparison between the two. As we mentioned in our original article however, expecting the Radeon 9600 Pro's core improvements and higher clock speed to overcome the lack of rendering pipelines and outperform the Radeon 9500 Pro may very well be wishful thinking - a question we're looking to finally answer today.

NVIDIA: Hard at work on new drivers

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