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» Channels :: Graphics Card
GeCube RADEON 9600XT 128MB Extreme Edition
By Vijay Anand
Category : Graphics
Published by Jimmy Tang on Tuesday, 2nd March, 2004
Rating : 5 out of 5 stars   (Most Overclockable Product Award)


Introduction

For the past few generations of mid-range graphics cards, they held the sweet spot in performance, features and price that gamers were bound to have their systems equipped with graphics cards of this caliber at the least. At this point of time, the more famous contending solutions for this segment would be both the GeForce FX 5700 Ultra and the RADEON 9600XT. Our recently published GeForce FX 5700 Ultra Performance review chiefly dealt with these two products and NVIDIA’s solution emerged as the slightly better performer in many of our tests.

The performance delta between the GeForce FX 5700 Ultra and the RADEON 9600XT isn’t too bad and there are a handful of RADEON 9600XT graphics card vendors (like GeCube) who offer very affordable quality products. It is because of this value proposition that the RADEON 9600 series is a hot favorite among thrifty spenders. Note that popular brands like Hercules and ATI (original) are in a slightly higher price bracket than most of the 2nd/3rd tier brands, and in that scenario, the GeForce FX 5700 Ultra would make a much better alternative since it's in the same price range.

GeCube is among the few well-known ATI powered graphics card vendors that offers quality products without the normally associated bloated price tag. Though they are very favorably priced, you would be surprised that their online product catalog is vast with a multitude of models even for the same VPU type. Thanks to GeCube’s deep penetration in the OEM channel, it is not a problem for them to port these to the retail market along with a few models specific to the retail channel. You might point out that most are actually permutations of the same design, which we do agree but you would also have to realize that it is no easy task maintaining different models of the same VPU in the business perspective.

Take note that the GeCube RADEON 9600XT 128MB Extreme edition is singled out by the ‘Extreme’ sticker logo towards the right end of the box.

Just for the RADEON 9600XT VPU, there are four models to choose from and in this review, we take their top of the line Extreme Edition version for a spin. Although it is GeCube’s best positioned RADEON 9600XT product, the package contents still remained pretty much a standard affair:-

  • GeCube RADEON 9600XT 128MB Extreme edition (GC-R96XTGU-C3)
  • User’s Manual
  • Drivers CD
  • CyberLink PowerDVD XP 4.0
  • Black Hawk Down (full-game)
  • S-Video / Composite extension cable dongle
  • DVI-I to DB15 Analog VGA converter

    Note that ATI has discontinued bundling the Half-Life 2 game coupon with RADEON 9600XT products since end of December 2003 and GeCube’s website has also indicated this. However, checks on the locally available version of the GeCube RADEON 9600XT 128MB Extreme edition indicated the inclusion of this game coupon via a clearly labeled sticker on the product package. Therefore, the availability of Half-Life 2 with this graphics card model (and other RADEON 9600XT products) is very much subjective to the region of sale and any agreements tied between the company, the distributor and ATI. The high-end RADEON 9800XT products are not affected (yet) and would continue to offer the game coupon for some time.

    GeCube RADEON 9600XT 128MB Extreme Edition Technical Specifications
    Graphics Engine
    • ATI RADEON 9600XT Visual Processing Unit (VPU)
    • Default GPU clock = 500MHz
    • 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 (max)
      • 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 +
      • 3-level Hierarchical Z-Buffer with early Z test
      • Lossless Z-Buffer compression (up to 24:1)
      • Fast Z-Buffer Clear
      • Z cache optimized for real-time shadow rendering
    • 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
    • Optimized for Pentium® 4 SSE2 and AMD Athlon™ 3DNow!
    • PC 2002 compliant
    Graphics Memory
    • 128MB DDR SDRAM (Samsung GC25, 2.5ns)
    • Default Memory clock = 700MHz DDR
    RAMDAC
    • Dual integrated 10-bit per channel 400 MHz DACs
    • Integrated 165 MHz TMDS transmitter (DVI 1.0 compliant and HDCP ready)
    Connectors
    • 15-pin D-sub VGA connector (supports up to 2048x1536 @ 85Hz)
    • 1x DVI-I connector
    • 1x mini-DIN connector for Integrated TV-out (supports up to 1024x768)
    Drivers
    • Driver support for Windows 98SE / Me / 2000 / XP
    Other Information
    • AGP 2.0 / 3.0 slot required (1.5V)
    • 1 PCI-assigned IRQ Required
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