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Sapphire Radeon 9600 XT - 256mb

Manufacturer: Sapphire Technology
Street Price: $185.00

by Dean Barker (2/24/2004)


The midrange graphics card market is really where the action is for most of us.  We want high end performance but our pocket books may not allow for the upgrade we really want.  The Radeon 9600 XT has gotten quite a bit of press lately and for good reason.  The 128mb 9600 XT cards are performing very well in testing from numerous sites.  What has made me curious however has been the differences between the 128 and 256mb versions of these midrange cards.  The extra 128mb of memory typically comes at a cost of around $30.  Is this a well spent $30 is what I want to know.  Today, we have one of Sapphire's 9600 XT 256mb cards on the bench to review, while hopefully addressing the 128mb question.  Let's take a quick peak at the card itself.


  • Powered by ATi Radeon™ 9600 XT VPU (RV360)

  • Memory configuration: 256mb DDR

  • VPU Core clock: 500MHz

  • Memory clock: 600MHz

  • 128-bit DDR memory interface

  • Four parallel rendering pipelines

  • Two parallel geometry engines

  • AGP 8X support


  • Supports DirectX® 9.0 and the latest version of OpenGL®



  • TRUFORM™ 2.0


  • MPEG-2 decoding with motion compensation

  • DTV/HDTV decoding

  • Dual integrated display controllers

  • Dual integrated 10-bit per channel 400 MHz DACs Integrated

  • Integrated TV Output support up to 1024x768 resolution

  • PC 2002 compliant

The Sapphire card is built on black PCB and is decidedly plain looking.  No fancy cooling for the VPU or memory here.  As a matter of fact, the memory has zip for cooling on it.  While this is not uncommon, it gives us an indication that Sapphire is looking to aim their card at the lower end of the cost spectrum.  


Looking at each end of the card, we see that we do get S-Video and DVI ports in addition to our standard VGA.  Dual monitors may seem like nothing you would be interested in now but it is nice to know your upgrade can handle it if your needs change down the road.



Page 1 - Introduction
Page 2 - The Card
Page 3 - Benchmarks UT2003
Page 4 - Benchmarks Serious Sam, Code Creatures, RTCW, AquaMark
Page 5 - Max Quality and Overclocking
Page 6 - Conclusion


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