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Digital-Daily : Video : asus-radeon9600-xt

ASUS Radeon 9600XT

Date: 17.02.2004

ASUS Radeon 9600XT
VPU chip ATI RV360
Memory DDR 128 Mb; 2.8 ns
Frequencies: 500/600 MHz
Category: Middle level `2004
Price: 200$

Asus' move to partnership with ATI turned out to be out of the blue. Albeit not earth-shattering, but at least unexpected enough. We've witnessed how one of the long-standing and reliable partners of NVIDIA's suddenly moved to ATI's camp. Of course, here we should make reservation for that Asus hasn't laid off the production of video cards built on NVIDIA chips. It simply released a line of boards based on ATI chips while preserving a complete line of video cards on the base of NVIDIA chips.


To date, Asus' line of video cards based on ATI chips looks like this:

GPU Series The chip Model
Radeon 9800 Radeon 9800 Series Radeon 9800XT Radeon 9800XT/TVD
Radeon 9800 Pro
Radeon 9600 Radeon 9600 Series Radeon 9600XT
Radeon 9600SE
Radeon 9600XT/TVD
Radeon 9600SE/TD
Radeon 9200 Radeon 9200 Series Radeon 9200SE Radeon 9200SE/T
Radeon 9200SE/TD
Radeon 9200 Radeon 7000 Series Radeon 7000 A 7000/T

As we see, Asus didn't start producing video cards on outdated chips, but simply overlapped all the market sectors (starting with the cheapest Low-end up to the most costly solutions like Radeon 9800XT ), awaiting what ATI might offer today.

Also, we can't help noting that Asus having joined ATI gave sort of an impetus to other competing manufacturing companies who produce graphic accelerators. Following Asus, a great many manufacturers announced their transition to production of video cards on ATI chips. So, why have the priorities changed? The answer is evident. The leader on the market of graphic chips has been changed. This is rooted in the evidently failing NV30, problems with first suppliers of chips, the GeForce FX 5900 made as a hastily released patch to NVIDIA GeForce FX 5800, general blunders in the whole FX family as to the operation of DirectX 9.0 generation pixel programs, and of course a series of scandalous stories of NVIDIA's "cheating" for specific applications. The latter is just a consequence of the very blunders of the company in the chip architecture (for details, read "ForceWare 52.16: NVIDIA's retaliation ", so it makes no sense repeating). On the contrary, ATI made much fewer mistakes than NVIDIA. As a result, we see the bright orange colored produce by Asus in our today's review.

Quite soon we'll be able to observe a new coil of rivalry between the giants of graphic chips production. The battle "R420 vs NV40" is going to be quite exciting and, unless NVIDIA with its new chip is able to leave ATI well behind, then we believe the "inertia of consumers" will go down and users will no longer buy NVIDIA cards because it is NVIDIA.

But meanwhile, we'll be reviewing ATI's Middle-end representative - ASUS Radeon 9600XT video card based in the ATI Radeon 9600XT chip - in great details.

The ATI RV360 Chip

In our comparative table on ATI Radeon 9600XT, we included the specifications of ATI Radeon 9600 Pro, a predecessor of ATI Radeon 9600XT in the ATI line, and those by NVIDIA. To date, ATI Radeon 9600XT's rival is NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 Ultra (a quite detailed review was presented in "NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 Ultra"), as well as NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 Ultra - its predecessor in the line of NVIDIA chips. Therefore, we can compare the characteristics of video cards of both new and older generation, ATI's and NVIDIA's video cards of the same "weight".

Video cards ATI Radeon 9600 PRO ATI Radeon 9600 XT NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 Ultra NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 Ultra
Code name RV350 RV360 NV31 NV36
Chip technology
256 bit
Process technology
0.13 mk
Q-ty of transistors ~75 mln ~75 mln ~80 mln ~82 mln
Memory bus 128 bit (DDR) 128 bit (DDR) 128 bit (DDR) 128 bit (DDR II)
Memory bandwidth 9.6 GB/s 9.6 GB/s 12.8 GB/s 14.4 GB/s
Pixel fillrate 1.6 Gpixel/s 2.0 Gpixel/s 1.6 Gpixel/s 1.9 Gpixel/s
AGP bus
128/256 MB
Chip clock speed 400 MHz 500 MHz 400 MHz
(new core)
475 MHz
Memory speed 300 MHz
(600 DDR)
300 MHz
(600 DDR)
400 MHz
(800 DDR)
450 MHz
(900 DDR)
Pixel pipelines 4 4 4 (2) 4 (2)
Textures per pipeline 1 1 1 (2) 1 (2)
Textures per texture unit 16 16 16 16
Vertex shader version 2.0 2.0 2.0+ 2.0+
Pixel shader version 2.0 2.0 2.0+ 2.0+
DirectX version
Antialiasing modes Multisampling
Maximum 6x
Maximum 6x
Maximum 4x
Mixed modes
Maximum 8x
Maximum 4x
Mixed modes
Maximum 8x
Anisotropic filtering 2/4/8/16x 2/4/8/16x 2/4/8x 2/4/8x
Memory optimization Hyper Z III+ Hyper Z III+ IntelliSample IntelliSample HCT
Optimizations SmartShader 2.0
SmoothVision 2.1
SmartShader 2.0
SmoothVision 2.1
CineFX 2.0
IntelliSample HCT
Q-ty of monitor outputs
Integrated RAMDAC
2 x 400 MHz
External RAMDACs
Bits per color channel
Special features Integrated TV-coder; FullStream
Adaptive filtering
Integrated TV-coder; FullStream
Adaptive filtering
Integrated TV-coder; adaptive filtering, DirectX 9+ Integrated TV-coder; adaptive filtering, DirectX 9+

First, let's start with the distinguishing features of 9600XT which proved to be not so many as compared to ATI Radeon 9600 Pro. The question is only about the increased frequencies of the graphic chip: from 400 MHz in ATI Radeon 9600 Pro to 500 MHz in ATI Radeon 9600 XT.

But NVIDIA's evolution in terms of a new chip for the Middle-End has gone even further. First, the operational frequencies of both the graphic chip and the memory have been increased. For the graphic chip: from 400 MHz to 475 MHz; and for the memory: from 400 MHz (800 MHz) to 450 MHz (900 MHz). Besides, the geometry handling speed in NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 Ultra has been increased due to the raised number of vertex pipelines to 3. Of especial note is that NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 Ultra uses the DDR II memory. To these, add the overall complexity of boards built on the NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 Ultra chip. We have to admit, such solution by NVIDIA seems to be rather strange. For the Middle-End sector of graphic accelerator market, this happens not so often. Anyway, the costs for the manufacture of boards built on GeForce FX 5700 Ultra may be quite substantial, as we see it. What we have least doubts of is that the cost of NVIDIA's partners' finished products may exceed that of boards based on ATI Radeon 9600XT. Therefore, we can make an interim conclusion saying that NVIDIA manufactures and sells GeForce FX 5700 Ultra at the breaking point of the prime cost only for the sake of winning the crown in the Middle-End niche for today.


  • The ATI RV360 Chip
  • ASUS Radeon 9600XT Video Card Features
  • Benchmarks: Synthetic tests
  • Benchmarks: Gaming benchmarks
  • FireStarter: Interview
  • FireStarter: Benchmarks. Final Words

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