IntroductionASUS Radeon 9600XT 128MB Review
ATI has seen fit to simply refresh its current DX9 graphics card lineup this autumn. The incumbent Radeon 9600 Pro, which boasted a 400MHz core speed allied to 600MHz DDR memory, used its 128-bit memory bus to decent effect. Some commentators noted that it was, on occasion, slower than the card that it had replaced, the Radeon 9500 Pro. Whatever the concerns and fears of those that wanted to maintain a 8x1 design, the Radeon 9600 Pro proved to be a decent midrange card that offered DirectX 9 compliance and enough basic grunt to satisfy system integrators looking for a card to specify in reasonable systems.
I referred to an autumnal refresh for ATI. The range-topping Radeon 9800 Pro saw fit to move down a notch and make way for the Radeon 9800XT. Faster clock and memory speeds, and scant little else, ensured that it became the rich enthusiasts' ATI choice.
In a similar fashion, the 9600 Pro was overhauled and replaced by, *drum roll*, the 9600XT, and much like the transition from 9800 Pro - 9800XT, the 9600XT enjoys a faster native core speed of 500MHz but still retains the Pro's 600MHz memory speed. There are other differences between the cards, too, and Ryszard took a look at them in his review of the reference 9600XT here. ATI also promised the consumer that a driver-based overclocking utility, named OVERDRIVE, would allow the 9600XT cards to be clocked up to 523MHz without issue.
A faster card than the 9600 Pro in most key respects, the 9600XT was an easy transition for ATI's partners to make. What we didn't expect to see was one of NVIDIA's partners breaking rank and deciding to produce ATI-based cards. ASUS isn't just some startup company that most users haven't heard of. It's one of the most recognised brands in the PC hardware industry. It's a big thing when it decides to partner ATI. ASUS probably has the most comprehensive range of any card manufacturer, with both NVIDIA and ATI's GPUs in its catalogue.
Let's now see if all that graphics muscle is put to decent use with ASUS' Radeon 9600XT.