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Review: ATI Radeon 9600XT (/w NV36)

by Ryszard Sommefeldt on 15 October 2003, 00:00

Tags: ATi Technologies (NYSE:AMD)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qaue

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System Setup

Getting 9600XT was an affair fraught with anxious delivery, driver chasing and new hardware configuration. After the death of my usual test platform and the 9600XT only showing up yesterday and me being decidely unprepared for it, rounding up rivals to pit the 9600XT against didn't work out as I expected.

With the HEXUS NVIDIA GeForceFX 5600 Ultra v2 being elsewhere and our Radeon 9600 Pro in transit down to deepest darkest Oxfordshire, I had to pluck something a little sneaky from my graphics card pile to test against.

As far as NDA is concerned, the mid range card rival in the graphs doesn't exist just yet, but it doesn't take too many smarts to figure out what it is. It comes out soon. Maybe two GeForce FX 2850 Ultra's stuck together or something?


  • ATI Radeon 9600XT, 128MB, AGP8X, RV360
  • NVIDIA NV36 Reference board, 128MB, AGP8X, NV36
  • ATI Radeon 9800XT, 256MB, AGP8X, R360
  • Intel Pentium 4 3.0 'C', 15 x 200MHz, 512KB L2, HyperThreading
  • EPoX EP-4PDA2+, Intel i865PE (Springdale-PE), Socket 478, dual DDR400
  • Corsair XMS3200LLPT, 2 x 256MB, 2-2-2-5
  • Enermax 431W PSU
  • Swiftech MCX478
  • Seagate Barracuda ATA IV 80GB


  • Windows XP Professional w/SP1 and current Windows Update patches (as of 14/10/03)
  • Detonator FX 52.16
  • Intel Chipset Driver 5.00.1012
  • DirectX 9.0a Runtime
  • 3DMark 2001SE v330
  • 3DMark03 v330
  • Quake 3 v1.30 (Four demo)
  • Aquamark 3
  • Gun Metal 2
  • Serious Sam 2 (SDC demo, Extreme addon)
  • Unreal Tournament 2003 Retail (HEXUS custom demo)
  • X2: The Threat Rolling Demo
While I tried to secure Halo and Tomb Raider Age Of Darkness for some more DX9 based lovin', I couldn't snag copies in enough time to get familiar with them for benchmarking. My FRAPS based rthdribl endeavours weren't entirely scientific either, so I've left commentary on that until right at the very end. No ShaderMark 2.0 either, a concious omission, berate me at will. Updates to our test suite in good time, with Halo and TR:AOD sure to make an appearance.

The driver on the NV36 will debut at the same time as the card is released, nearer the end of this month. It's a shocking improvement on the 51.75 set. Both 52.14 and 52.16 have been used in my testing recently, with 52.14 in particular being the best GeForce FX driver NVIDIA have created to date, in my humble opinion. I'll talk about their image quality as needed. There'll be no specific image quality screenshots for one main reason; I just haven't had the time to create them, the cards only arrived yesterday. I promise a proper image quality analysis of 52.14, 52.16 and CATALYST 3.8 in my next graphics card article, that goes beyond simple commentary. Until then, you'll have to take my word for it.

On to the pretty graphs.