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  Radeon 9600 XT, much ado about nothing 
  Oct 15, 2003, 12:00pm EDT 

Benchmarks, continued

By: Sander Sassen

Weíve ran a host of other benchmarks, including UT 2003, Serious Sam, Code Creatures, etc. but instead of adding more pages to this article we can simply tell you that the trend indeed did continue. In all these benchmarks the Radeon 9600 XT was basically on par with the 9600 Pro give or take a few percent in terms of performance. Both the Radeon 9700 Pro, 9800 Pro and the 9800 XT were simply out of the 9600 XTí league, despite the eXtreme ediTion tagline the 9600 XT is carrying. So letís move on beyond the benchmarks and see what else the Radeon 9600 XT has in store for us. Obviously one way to up the performance of any videocard is to overclock itís graphics processor and memory, which will yield extra performance with just a few clicks of the mouse.

Missing power connector

Fig 3. The Radeon 9600 XT no longer carries a external power connector as do the 9800 Pro and 9800 XT.

There are plenty of software tools available thatíll let you adjust the clockspeed of your graphics processor and memory. The tool that we prefer to use for this purpose is PowerStrip. PowerStrip is a utility that not only has the ability to change the clock settings of your graphics card but also fine tune your monitor refresh rate and other settings thatíll help you to improve the image quality of your videocard and monitor. Weíll use PowerStrip here to get an impression how much headroom the Radeon 9600 XT has left in terms of clockspeed. The stock clock frequency of the graphics processor is 500MHz, which is nearly 175MHz faster than the Radeon 9700 Pro. Unfortunately the stock clock frequency of the memory is just 300MHz, 10MHz slower than the 9700 Pro. On top of that the bus width of the 9600 XTí graphics processor to the memory is just 128-bits, half that of the 9700 Pro.

DDR SDRAM memory

Fig 4. The Samsung memory chips as featured on the Radeon 9600 XT, rated at 3.3ns.

By the looks of it the 9600 XT has a fast processor which is probably starving for memory bandwidth. As to be expected the memory chips that ATi used on this particular Radeon 9600 XT are not the fastest available today. With a little effort we were able to clock them up to 340MHz, thatís as fast as they would go. Faster would result in artifacting or a garbled screen, requiring a reboot to restore things to working order. However with the memory chips at 340MHz and the graphics processor at stock speed, the video card clocked in a 3DMark2003 score of 4201, which is 11% faster than stock. With just the graphics processor at 550MHz we saw virtually no improvement, but the combination of a 550MHz core clock and 340MHz memory yielded in a 12% increase of performance. Which unfortunately is still 20%b slower than the Radeon 9700 Pro. So in summary it looks like the 9600 XTí graphics processor is starving for memory bandwidth.

1. Introduction
2. Benchmarks, 3DMark2003
3. Benchmarks, AquaMark3
4. Benchmarks, 3DMark2001se
5. Benchmarks, continued
6. Conclusion

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