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

    Anyone notice that the GeForce5600 Ultra beats out the 9600 Pro, and even the 9600 ProXT, in games that dont use DX (namely they use Open GL)? Like in Wolfenstein, Jedi Academy. I also seem to remeber it winning in Quake 3, in some other reviews I read. It also won in Never Winter Nights; is that an Open GL game too?

    Just seems to me that if Nvidia can fix whatever probelms the Geforce line of cards have with DX, they may prove to be very good cards, as open gl seems to suggest. Just a thought.
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 15, 2003 - link

    Dear Anand Lal Shimpi & Derek Wilson,

    As I can't see the benchmark graphs I can't extract any useful information from this review. Please don't ever use Flash in your reviews again.

    Thank you.
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 15, 2003 - link

    Oh, yeah, thanks for including the Ti4200. Lessthanthree.
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 15, 2003 - link

    It was the Radeon 9500 plain that could be modded, not the 9500 Pro, you NITRATE-OXIDIZING FIEND

    The 9500 Pro was quite a buy, though, never mind modding.
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 15, 2003 - link

    I've seen 9700 non-pro's going for around $200... Considering the performance hike from overclocking and the ability to just overclock/flash the NP to a Pro, I'd say the 9700 is a better deal than the 9600XT. :)

    Anonymous Posting: As I've said before, I'm unable to procure an email address that isn't blocked under AT's anti-freemail signup requirement, so I'm out of luck in replying to these entries if they lock it to unsubscribed users. :/

    Lastly, I use a Ti4200 and I'm satisfied to see my Ti4200 putting out 28fps in Halo... On the other hand, I'd like to hear from the AT folks after they've played Halo for about an hour or so using 45.23 Dets with a 4200 clock of 265/545, because I've experienced game-ruining artifacting that V-sync can't correct... And no other game has the same error, so it's not the Dets or the clock speeds that's causing it (to my knowledge).
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 15, 2003 - link

    i think you can find the 9700pro at a few places for around $220
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 15, 2003 - link

    Have I missed something in the pricing of these cards? "Given the very low price of the Radeon 9700 Pro we'd strongly suggest buying a 9700 Pro over a Radeon 9600 XT". A quick check on pricewatch indicates that very low price to be $249.00. Has the accepted price of a midrange card gone that high?
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 15, 2003 - link

    Agreed to 22, this Anonymous posting system does nothing but feed the trolls
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 15, 2003 - link

    Yawn.. the article responses have certainly gone to shit ever since this new reply and comment system was added.
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 15, 2003 - link

    #20-sorry that you're an idiot

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