Well, I think it is clear that the Radeon 9600 XT doesnít really live up to itís name, thereís nothing extreme about itís performance, all that it has to bargain for is a low price. And even that might not be enough justification to buy one, as itís predecessor, the Radeon 9600 Pro can be had for about $150, which is a good $50 cheaper than then 9600 XT. For videocards in the category the Radeon 9600 XT falls into, only two things really matter, price and potential performance. A lot of people rather buy a $200 videocard and overclock it to get close to the performance of, for example, a Radeon 9700 or 9800 Pro, than to spend $500 on the real thing. And honestly we canít blame them, the Radeon 9500 Pro of late had lots of potential and could be turned into a Radeon 9700 Pro with little effort, yielding similar performance at about half the price.
It looks like ATi has shut the door for anyone aspiring to get Radeon 9800 XT performance out of a 9600 XT. The memory bandwidth is clearly holding the 9600 XT back from ever getting close to the 9700 Pro, let alone the 9800 Pro. And unfortunately no firmware hack can get the 9600 XT performing on par, as it is simply missing a trivial part of the performance equation; it doesnít have a 256-bit memory bus. And thatís something which simply cannot be added at a later date. We find the XT tagline that the 9600 XT is carrying confusing, as people, by the looks of it, will think it s faster than any other ATi graphics card, but for the 9800 XT. As weíve shown the 9600 XT is only a tad bit faster than the 9600 Pro, and no match for a Radeon 9700 Pro.
If youíre in the market for a decent DirectX 9.0 videocard that will run upcoming games such as HalfLife2 at playable framerates the Radeon 9600 XT isnít going to give you much headroom. Investing in a Radeon 9800 Pro, or even a 9700 Pro is a much wiser choice, although the 9800 Pro is priced significantly higher, the Radeon 9700 Pro can be had for around $250. Nevertheless the wisest decision might just be to sit this one out and seriously start considering an upgrade when games such as HalfLife2 and Doom3 have finally hit the shelves. If you're however in the market for a new budget videocard today and you can't wait a few more months, the Radeon 9600 XT is a decent choice, just don't expect to get much mileage out of it, as by the time the DirectX 9.0 titles are available, you'll most likely be wanting a faster videocard.
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