Date: February 25th, 2004
Article by: Roger (Hardware Reviewer)
Product was donated by: ATI Technologies
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The 9600XT comes in a fantastic looking box. I have noticed that especially as of late, ATI is coming up with some amazing box designs. It is also very obvious that there is a partnership between ATI and Valve, as there are Half-Life 2 references all over the box, indicating that ATI brand cards are 'preferred' for the game (which is expected out in April of 2004).
The retail version of the 9600XT comes with a coupon for Half-Life 2. As stated above, the game has not yet been released. There have been a couple delays due to leaked code, however the current release date of April of 2004 seems fairly reliable. And when the games comes out, you'll be able to test out the theory that it works better on newer ATI cards (namely the 9800 Pro onward, although previously released cards will undoubtedly fare well also).
The card comes securely packed, although the box contents are sparse (card, manual, installation cd and Half-Life 2 coupon). This card isn't about the extras you receive… it's all about the product itself. And let's be honest, who the hell cares about an S-Video cable or DVI-VGA adapter that'll just collect dust in your drawer. Certainly, it would have been nice of ATI to include those in the package, but they have to keep the retail price down somehow, and this is one cost-saving measure that I don't mind. I'd rather they pump all they can into the card, as that's where the magic comes from.
So let's get right to the card.