Date: February 25th, 2004
Article by: Roger (Hardware Reviewer)
Product was donated by: ATI Technologies
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PRODUCT WALKTHROUGH & PICTORIAL
ATI chose its trademark red PCB for the 9600XT as with all their new cards. The 9600XT is nearly identical to the 9600Pro, with just a few distinct differences.
The most obvious is of course the more aggressive VPU cooling solution. This new heatsink/fan combo does a fantastic job keeping the VPU cool. I made certain to keep a very close eye on the VPU temperature via the Catalyst Overdrive tab in the advance display properties, and it rarely went over 40-45 degrees even when I employed aggressive overclocking. Periodically, I touched the heatsink to see how warm it got, only to find that the fan was doing its job very well. (FYI, when touching the heatsink, be especially careful not to touch the fan. Not only will you slice your finger good, but you'll most likely damage the fan as well. Luckily, my open Lubic cube allows me to poke my fingers in easily, but even then, I always use caution when doing so.)
The fan measures 45mm, as opposed to the 9600Pro's 35mm fan. The XT's fan is very quiet. With the open case, it is very easy for me to monitor the noise level, and I can honestly say that I could not hear this fan at all, even with my Volcano CPU cooler at its lowest setting.
You'll notice the four 16MB memory modules around the heatsink. They are uncovered, just like those on the back…
And here you see the four other memory modules. It's true that the memory didn't get excessively hot during overclocking, and we do have to factor in the cost of the card, however small heatsinks would have been nice. Still, there's no saying how much further I could have pushed the memory even with heatsinks.
The 9600XT uses Samsung K4D263238E-GC33 (specified at 3.3ns) which is rated for a maximum frequency of 300MHZ. The 9600XT has set the default clock speed at 300MHZ (600MHz DDR), which means that the memory is already running at its peak as soon as you slap it into your motherboard. What does this mean for overclocking? (Because to get a good overclock on a video card, you have to increase the frequency of the core as well as the memory.) Keep reading, and you'll see how she fared… you'll be pleasantly surprised.
As stated above, the 9600XT is based on the Radeon 9600Pro which used the RV350 VPU. The 9600XT uses a RV360 VPU. It is built on the .13 micron process which allows it to run at higher core frequencies without a secondary power source. It gets all of its power from the AGP port. The card uses low k dielectrics, which drops the capacitance and lets the core run cooler while using less power (which is why the 9600XT has less capacitors than the 9600Pro). This allows the card to run at a higher frequency.
Here you can get a quick reference on the 9600 line of cards. The main difference between the Pro and the XT is the 100MHz extra core frequency and the faster pixel fillrate.