ATi Radeon 9600XT Review

Card and contents

ATi has sent us a Radeon 9600XT video card for review. We will see how it performs in modern Direct3D and OpenGL applications and games, as well as how it performs against the older (but more expensive) Radeon 9700 Pro. It is meant for the mainstream market, which can be deduced from its price point. It’s meant to be a powerful card for 3D games that won’t break the bank. As such, it shouldn’t be treated as a high-end card, and the comparisons between the 9700 Pro are just there to show you the difference between the two chipsets and features. Here are the specs of the card:

  • 128MB of double data rate SDRAM
  • VGA connector for analog CRT
  • S-video connector for TV / VCR 1
  • DVI-I connector for digital flat panel 2
  • Independent resolutions and refresh rates for any two connected displays
  • 4 parallel rendering pipelines
  • 2 parallel geometry engines
  • 128-bit DDR memory interface
  • AGP 8X support

SMARTSHADER™ 2.0
Programmable pixel and vertex shaders
16 textures per pass
Pixel shaders up to 160 instructions with 128-bit floating point precision
Vertex shaders up to 1024 instructions with flow control
Multiple render target support
Shadow volume rendering acceleration
High precision 10-bit per channel frame buffer support
Supports DirectX® 9.0 and the latest version of OpenGL®

SMOOTHVISION™ 2.1
2x/4x/6x full scene anti-aliasing modes
Adaptive algorithm with programmable sample patterns
2x/4x/8x/16x anisotropic filtering modes
Adaptive algorithm with bi-linear (performance) and tri-linear (quality) options


HYPER Z™ III+
Lossless Z-Buffer compression (up to 24:1)
Fast Z-Buffer Clear

TRUFORM™ 2.0
2nd generation N-Patch higher order surface support
Discrete and continuous tessellation levels per polygon
Displacement mapping

VIDEOSHADER™
Seamless integration of pixel shaders with video
FULLSTREAM™ video de-blocking technology
Noise removal filtering for captured video

  • MPEG-2 decoding with motion compensation, iDCT and color space conversion
  • All-format DTV/HDTV decoding
  • YPrPb component output
  • Adaptive de-interlacing and frame rate conversion
  • Dual integrated display controllers
  • Dual integrated 10-bit per channel 400 MHz DACs
  • Integrated 165 MHz TMDS transmitter (DVI 1.0 compliant)
  • Integrated TV Output support up to 1024×768 resolution
  • Optimized for Pentium® 4 SSE2 and AMD Athlon™ 3Dnow!
  • PC 2002 compliant

As you can see, the specs are pretty impressive. The card has a core clock speed of 500 MHz, and a memory clock speed of 300MHz (effectively 600MHz since it’s DDR). These speeds are much higher than the 9700 Pro, but the 9700 has a 256 bit memory interface, which, in video cards, is one of the most important features, as it helps alleviate bottlenecks in the pipeline. We’ll see how this affects its performance a little later. Right now, let’s take a look at the card itself.