Gigabyte GVR96X128D 9600XT

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The GV-R96X128D 9600XT from Gigabyte
High-End Quality at a Mid-Range Price

By, Jeff Bouton
March 2, 2004

When it comes to deciding on the perfect video card for your needs, manufacturers don't make it easy for the average buyer. While naming conventions are aimed at classifying the product so the consumer can decipher what they are getting, some of these brandings are pretty confusing nonetheless. Today, we are seeing all kinds of designations for the consumer to sift through such as "Pro", "SE", "XT" and "Ultra" to name a few. While the "Ultra" suffix is a clear label of a high-end card, the others are a little less obvious, unless you follow the industry. To add insult to injury, while ATi uses "XT" to label a high performance video card, NVIDIA, in a clear marketing tactic aimed at tarnishing ATi's XT brand, decided to adopt the same "XT" designation for their budget minded models. Make no mistake though, when you see a video card backed by an ATI chip that dons the XT moniker, this card should deliver on performance. That is what we are hoping anyway, as we take a look at the latest Radeon 9600XT to enter the shop, the Gigabyte GV-R96X128D. This card has a potent "mainstream" Radeon 9600XT VPU backed by 128MB of DDR RAM, that should be able to take on the most demanding games available today and at a manageable price point. Let's get started with some tech specs and then we'll get more acquainted with the GV-R96X128D.

Specifications & Features of the Gigabyte GV-R96X128D 9600XT
ATI Raises the Horsepower

GRAPHICS TECHNOLOGY

  • RV360 Visual Processing Unit (VPU)

  • Core Clock Speed 500MHz

MEMORY CONFIGURATION

  • 128MB of DDR RAM

  • 300MHz DDR / 600MHz Effective Speed

  • 128-bit Memory Interface

3D GRAPHICS FEATURES

  • Four parallel rendering pipelines process up to 2.0 billion pixels per second

  • High precision 10-bit per channel framebuffer support

  • 128-bit DDR memory interface

  • AGP 8X support

SMARTSHADER 2.1

  • Full support for Microsoft® DirectX® 9.0 programmable pixel and vertex shaders in hardware

  • 2.0 Pixel Shaders support up to 16 textures per rendering pass

  • 2.0 Vertex Shaders support vertex programs up to 1024 instructions with flow control

  • New 128-bit per pixel floating point color formats

  • Multiple Render Target (MRT) support

  • Shadow volume rendering acceleration

  • Complete feature set also supported in OpenGL via extensions

SMOOTHVISION 2.1

  • State-of-the-art full-scene anti-aliasing

  • Supports 2x, 4x, and 6x modes with programmable sample patterns

  • Advanced anisotropic filtering

  • Supports up to 16 bilinear samples (in performance mode) or trilinear samples (in quality mode) per pixel

  • 2x/4x/6x full scene anti-aliasing modes

  • Adaptive algorithm with programmable sample patterns

  • 2x/4x/8x/16x anisotropic filtering modes

  • Adaptive algorithm with bilinear (performance) and trilinear (quality) options

  • Bandwidth-saving algorithm enables this feature with minimal performance cost

HYPERZ III+

  • Hierarchical Z-Buffer and Early Z Test reduce overdraw by detecting and discarding hidden pixels

  • Lossless Z-Buffer Compression and Fast Z-Buffer Clear reduce memory bandwidth consumption by over 50%

  • Fast Z-Buffer Clear

DISPLAY SUPPORT

  • 15-pin VGA connector for analog CRT / DVI-I connector for digital CRT or flat panel

  • S-video or composite connector for TV/VCR

  • Independent resolutions and refresh rates for any two connected displays

VIDEO FEATURES

VIDEOSHADER

  • Seamless integration of programmable pixel shaders with video data

  • High quality, hardware accelerated de-blocking of internet streaming video

  • Noise removal filter for captured video

  • Integrated MPEG-2 decode

  • Hardware accelerated iDCT, motion compensation, and color space conversion

  • Top quality DVD and all-format DTV/HDTV decode with low CPU overhead

  • Back-end scaler delivers top quality playback

  • Upscaling and downscaling with 4-tap horizontal and vertical filtering

  • Filtered display of images up to 1920 pixels wide

  • Unique per-pixel adaptive de-interlacing feature combines the best elements of the ?bob? and ?add-field? (weave) techniques

FULLSTREAM

  • Noise removal filtering for captured video

  • MPEG-2 decoding with motion compensation, iDCT and color space conversion

  • All-format DTV/HDTV decoding

  • YPrPb component output

  • Adaptive de-interlacing and frame rate conversion

  • Dual integrated display controllers

  • Dual integrated 10-bit per channel 400MHz DACs

  • Integrated 165 MHz TMDS transmitter (DVI and HDCP compliant)

  • Integrated TV Output support up to 1024x768 resolution

  • Optimized for Pentium® 4 SSE2 and AMD Athlon? 3Dnow!

  • PC 2002 compliant

DISPLAY FEATURES

  • Dual integrated display controllers

  • Drive two displays simultaneously with independent resolutions and refresh rates

  • HYDRAVISION? software provides complete control over multi-display configurations with a user-friendly interface

  • Dual integrated 10-bit per channel palette DACs operating at up to 400MHz

  • Integrated 165MHz TMDS transmitter supports resolutions up to QXGA (2048x1536) and complies with DVI and HDCP specifications

  • Integrated TV-Out support up to 1024x768 resolution

  • YPrPb output for direct drive of HDTV monitors

GENERAL FEATURES

  • Comprehensive 2x, 4x, and 8x AGP support

  • DDR memory interface supports 64/128/256MB configurations

  • Fully compliant with PC 2002 requirements

  • Optimized for Pentium® 4 SSE2 and AMD Athlon? 3Dnow! processor instructions

  • Supports optional THEATER? 200 companion chip for NTSC/PAL/SECAM video capture

  • Highly optimized 128-bit 2D engine with support for new Windows® XP GDI extensions


Complimenting the GV-R96X128D was an ample selection of hardware and software goodies to peak our interest.  The package came with a total of three gaming titles, most notably being Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness, which was an overall dud in the retail market, but has found a new home bundled with gaming cards.  While AOD isn't so hot, it gives us a taste of what games can look like when they take advantage of Direct X9 and advanced Pixel Shaders.  To top the bundle off, there are also a couple of lower profile titles, including the ever popular bundled title Rainbow Six 3 and the lesser known Will Rock.

We will say that it is always good to see a copy of Cyberlink's PowerDVD included in a graphics card package.  This is the software DVD player of choice for all of us here at HH and should please anyone who is looking for a good DVD program that is feature rich and powerful.  Gigabyte rounded out the package with a DVI-to-VGA adapter as well as a unique video in cable that offers a Y end for the most flexibility.

The Card & Some Screenshots

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