Final Words

As for overclocking, it seems that the Radeon 9800XT cards that we looked at don't have as much headroom as the GeForce FX 59xx solutions do. The fact that the 9800XT doesn't benefit as much from overclocking is interesting, especially since the 9600XT seems to benefit so much from it. Core processing power is becoming more and more important, and with shader intensive DX9 games on their way, enthusiasts are going to want more and more power from their graphics cards.

LeadTek and MSI really ran away with the performance here. Both vendors ended up with some really nice cards that we could clock to the sky and back.

Of course, if lower noise is your need, Sapphire has a silent 9600XT and all of MSI's solutions are very quiet.

When it comes to heat, we would really like to be able to analyze the situation a bit more, but hopefully we've been able to show the ball park people would be working with. Of course, lower powered cards are generally cooler, so if you need to maintain a lower system temperature, you'll need to stick with one of the 9600XT cards. If you want to go for one of these really hot cards, you may want to think about trying to keep a cooler system as well.

Hopefully, we will be able to continue doing these massive roundups whenever new GPUs launch. And hopefully, the vendors will continue adding more and more useful and powerful features. We are definitely hoping for a wider variety of RAM types (which is very affected by the number of RAM vendors making GDDR-II modules) and passively cooled solutions. Low noise, low profile, truly single slot solutions are always something that we are after. Current single slot graphics cards are only good for beefing up something like a Shuttle XPC, where you have the AGP slot right next to the side of the case.

Hopefully there has been a little bit in here for everyone, and I would like to thank the manufacturers for getting us their cards and being patient as we put together this massive review.

Overall Unreal Tournament 2003 Performance
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  • vss1980 - Wednesday, March 10, 2004 - link

    I'm surprised there weren't more DirectX9 games tested.
    I must admit its annoying when review sites test with only 1 or 2 older games and focus on just 3Dmark and new game tests, but considering all those cards are DX9 cards the lack of DX9 testing isn't right.
  • anthonyv - Monday, March 1, 2004 - link

    please recheck the charts on p.25... I think the charts, chart titles, and text are mixed up.
  • Atlas5 - Sunday, February 29, 2004 - link

    I'm not sure that a comparison of such limited depth is all that useful to someone trying to figure out if upgrading to a new card is worthwhile. Try this review...

    ...if you're looking to compare more than what's hit the streets in the last 9 months.
  • mkseidl - Thursday, February 19, 2004 - link

    You can d/l the coolbits reg edit which will add a tab to your display settings to overclock the video card with simple sliders. Just to compare with your FFXI my score was 3800 :)(I haven't run the benchmark with my card oc'd)

    I have

    Asus a7v8x
    xp1700 @ 2.25ghz
    evga geforceFX 5900se
    1gb pc2100
    sata raid 0 array 240gb
    dvd +/- burner
    lian li case

    I have a question, on hot hardware they got their evga up to 471/871mhz

    But I can only gt mine up to 429\820
    which is about a 50mhz diff? is that average for cards? I know not all cards/procs can oc the sae. but shouldn't it be closer?

  • mincheng - Wednesday, February 18, 2004 - link

    Can anyone tell me how to overclock the video cards??? I know that when you OC a cpu you gotta go to BIOS, but I just don't understand how Video Card overclocking works? I currently own a PNY FX5600 Ultra and a P4 3.06Ghz/533L2Cache - overclocked to 3.45Ghz and a 1Ghz of PC800 RDRAM. Scored 3437 on FFXI benchmark ver.2 . I really want to OC my video card so I can get better speed. And if you know how to OC then can you please e-mail me at THANKS!
  • mkseidl - Wednesday, February 18, 2004 - link

    Just out of curiosity, how did you guys overclock the video cards? I can't find anything in my drivers or bios to overclock my card. After reading your benchmarks, I purchased a evga 5900se. I upgraded from Gefoce2 Ultra

    3dMark01 - Geforce 2 was 5013 and my Fx was 9109
    Is that a big jump?
    And in the FFXI benchmark I went from 1900 to 3800

    But I want to overclock the crap out of it like my proc ;)

  • Pete - Wednesday, February 11, 2004 - link

    Last nitpicks: box shots and bundle listings would have been useful, and part numbers and stock speeds should have been mandatory on each card's page. Considering most vendors offer multiple versions of each product, not clearly marking which card was tested in this overclocking roundup seems like a rather glaring omission. NewEgg now seems to offer a High Tek (HIS) 9600XT, but I can't tell if that's the same one as in your review, or even if stock memory speed for HIS cards is 600 or 650MHz. Your only mentions of memory speeds are at the ends of pages 15 and 16, somewhat removed from each card's product page. I think it would have much clearer and more helpful if you had mentioned that both Sapphire's and HIS' 9600XT's ship with their memory at 650MHz either in their product pages, or directly under the memory overclocking graph.
  • Pete - Sunday, February 8, 2004 - link

    Derek, Indig0's reply is slightly worying. I hope people aren't getting the wrong impression of anyone's performance based on a single sample's overclocked performance in only three benchmarks. If the samples were sent to you by each AIB, that's even more worrying, as who's to say they weren't cherry-picked?

    In fact, not indicating both the clock speeds and the fact that the cards were overclocked on each benchmark graph seems like a gross oversight. If the Flash format is preventing you from doing so, then changing it should be a priority. But if you can add two lines of description for each card (which it looks like you have plenty of room for), I'd amend the review.

    For future overclocking reviews, I think it'd be much more useful to at least show the percentage improvements in both clock speed and framerate in the game benchmark charts. Sure, you've covered this earlier in the article, but it's a long article, and there's no point in forcing people to continually flip back and forth when it's relatively simple to add this data to the graphs. Ideally, I'd have liked to see two graphs for each card, one for stock and one for OC'ed speed, with the clock speeds in the card title and the percent improvement over stock speed right after the OC'ed speed bar. I think you can cram a lot more useful data into those graphs. :)
  • Stlr22 - Sunday, February 8, 2004 - link

    I would love to see benchmarks at 1600x1200. That's the sweetspot that I always play games at so I'd would like to see what kinda CPU/GPU combo it's gonna take to get smooth game play at that level.
  • Nemesis77 - Friday, February 6, 2004 - link

    This review is getting alot of flack from the folks at Beyond3D:

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