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ATi Radeon 9600 Pro Overclocked!
Date: Apr 18, 2003
Author: HH Editor
ATi Radeon 9600 Pro Overclocked! - Page 1

The ATi Radeon 9600
Overclocked & Ready To Rock...

By - Marco Chiappetta
April 18, 2003

Early Wednesday morning, the NDAs were lifted and multiple ATi Radeon 9600 Pro reviews hit the web.  Most analysts came to similar conclusions, praising the 9600 Pro for its feature set and image quality, but they came away a bit disappointed that it was outperformed by the comparably priced (at least initially) Radeon 9500 Pro in the majority of tests.  One part of the overall equation hadn't been answered though.  Initial attempts at overclocking the Radeon 9600 failed because the tweaking utilities that were available could not properly recognize the 9600 Pro VPU.  Due to the fact that the new RV350 core is built using a more advanced .13 micron manufacturing process, as opposed to the .15 micron process used for the R300, we had high hopes for its overclocking potential, but unfortunately we couldn't successfully overclock our sample...until now!  The hard working  folks at Rage3D have already updated their Rage3D tweak utility and it now properly recognizes the 9600 Pro!  So, how high were we able to take our card?  Read on to find out...

HotHardware's Test Setup
A Top-Of-The-Line Athlon Rig

AMD Athlon XP 3000+ (333MHz FSB)

Asus A7N8X Motherboard (nForce 2 Chipset with AGP 8X)

512MB Corsair PC3500C2 Platinum DDR RAM

On-Board NIC

On-Board Sound

Seagate 120GB SATA HD

Silicon Image SATA Controller

Lite-On 16X DVD-ROM

Standard Floppy Drive

Windows XP Professional with SP1

DirectX 9.0a

NVIDIA nForce Chipset Drivers v2.03


ATi Radeon 9600 Pro
ATi Radeon 9500 Pro
ATi Radeon 9700 Pro

ATi Catalyst Drivers - Version 3.2

Performance Comparisons With 3DMark2001 SE
Synthetic DX8 Action

A few early reports had Radeon 9600 Pro cards overclocking to almost 570MHz core clock speeds, with 350MHz+ memory speeds.  We weren't quite that lucky, but had great results nonetheless.  At core speeds in excess of 540MHz, with memory speeds hovering around 370MHz, we could complete some benchmarks, but had visual anomalies and the test system frequently hung.  So, we raised the AGP voltage to 1.7 and lowered the clock speeds until we found the point where all visual artifacts were gone, and the test system was able to complete all of our benchmarks without a problem.  We finally settled on a 519MHz core clock speed, with our memory clocked at 366MHz (732MHz DDR)!  That's a full 119MHz over the stock clock speed of 400MHz for the core, and 66MHz (132MHz DDR) over the stock memory clock speed of 300MHz (600MHz DDR)!  Keep in mind this was achieved with STOCK cooling, with no modifications made to the card whatsoever.  We ran through a complete set of benchmarks while overclocked to see what kind of real-world performance gains can be realized with the Radeon 9600 Pro running at overclocked levels...

The performance increases in 3DMark2001 was dramatic.  With the Radeon 9600 Pro overclocked, it overtook the 9500 Pro in every test except for one.  Only when running at a resolution of 1600x1200 with 4X AA enabled did the 9500 Pro come out ahead.  Overclocking the 9600 Pro yielded an approximate 28% performance gain across the board.  

3DMark03 and Comanche 4

ATi Radeon 9600 Pro Overclocked! - Page 2

The ATi Radeon 9600 Pro
Overclocked & Ready To Rock...

By - Marco Chiappetta
April 18, 2003

Benchmarks With 3DMark03
The Controversial Synthetic DX9 Benchmark

9600 PRO            9600 PRO OC          9500 PRO              9700 PRO

The performance gains we saw with 3DMark03 were equally as impressive.  At default speeds the Radeon 9600 Pro posted an overall score 3180, but when overclocked the overall score jumped to an even 4000, a 26% increase.  Incidentally, the overclocked 9600 Pro surged past the 9500 Pro as well, but it was still 679 points behind the 9700 Pro.  Looking at the detailed results shows measurable increases in every one of the "game" tests that comprise the 3DMark03 suite. There is something interesting to note in the 3DMark03 tests.  When the Radeon 9600 Pro was overclocked, the CPU score shot way up.

Head-to-Head / Performance With Comanche 4
Looks Like Recent New Footage

Tests with Comanche 4 with the card overclocked, again show the Radeon 9600 pro outpacing the 9500 Pro at 1024x768, regardless of what settings were used.  When we raised the resolution to 1600x1200, the 9600 Pro beat the 9500 Pro when AA and Aniso filtering were disabled, but once those features were turned on the 9500 Pro took over.

Some Quake 3 & UT2003 Benchmarks 

ATi Radeon 9600 Pro Overclocked! - Page 3

The ATi Radeon 9600 Pro
Overclocked & Ready To Rock...

By - Marco Chiappetta
April 18, 2003

Head-to-Head / Performance With Serious Sam: TSE
Kill Some Aliens With Croteam's Shooter!

Serious Sam: The Second Encounter tells a similar story.  When overclocked, the Radeon 9600 Pro outperformed the 9500 Pro at 1024x768, with and without AA enabled.  At 1600x1200 with AA disabled, the 9600 Pro was again able to surpass the 9500 Pro, but once AA was enabled at this high resolution, the 9500 Pro held onto a small advantage.

These overclocking results certainly cast the ATi Radeon 9600 Pro in a much more positive light.  With no modifications made to the card whatsoever, we were able to raise core clock speeds by 119MHz, which equates to a 30% increase.  The on-board memory also overclocked very well, climbing 22% from a stock speed of 300MHz (600MHz DDR) to 366MHz (732MHz).  If these results are typical with boards sold at retail, ATi is going to win over the hearts of many "tweakers" out there, who live to tinker with their rigs.

So, why would ATi release this card at "only" 400MHz / 300MHz when there seems to be so much headroom left with this product?  The answer: Yield.  The Radeon 9600 Pro should be a very high yield part.  We don't have any solid numbers from ATi, but we would bet that the vast majority of cores coming out of TSMC will run at 400MHz, or below, like the parts that will eventually be used on the Radeon 9600 "non-Pro".  Having more useable parts, means less wasted cores and faster production of boards...which means higher profits for ATi and increased availability for the consumer.  If all this holds true, prices should drop relatively quickly, which would make the Radeon 9600 a much more attractive product.

There are a ton of folks just like you in HotHardware's PC Hardware Forum...Go There Now!


ATi Radeon 9600 Pro Overclocked! - Page 4
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