Asus Radeon 9x00 XTs

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The Asus Radeon 9x00 XTs
A Close-Up Look at Asus' First ATi Powered Video Cards

By, Marco Chiappetta
November 25, 2003

A few months ago, rumors began to circulate that alleged ASUSTeK Computer Inc. (aka Asus), a long-time provider of NVIDIA based graphics products, was poised to launch a new line of video cards based on ATi's popular Radeon GPUs.  Asus had been a steadfast NVIDIA partner for quite a few years, but it seemed like NVIDIA's recent troubles had forced some of their most loyal cohorts to look at competing products.  A shot while later, the rumors proved to be true and now we've got two ATi powered, Asus built video cards burning up our monitors here in the HotHardware labs.  The products we'll be looking at today, the Asus Radeon 9800 XT/TVD and Radeon 9600 XT/TVD are both equipped with customer cooling solutions and boast some of the most impressive feature-sets and bundles in their respective market segments.  We've taken both of these cards and directly compared them to their NVIDIA based rivals, the GeForce FX 5950 Ultra and GeForce FX 5700 Ultra, with a wide variety of games on a fully-loaded 3GHz Intel powered system.  Read on to see what we found...

     
CLICK ANY IMAGE FOR AN ENLARGED VIEW

Specifications & Features of the Asus Radeon XTs
Asus Switches Sides!

Radeon 9800 XT Specifications:

RADEON 9800 XT Visual Processing Unit (VPU)
● 412MHz Core Clock

MEMORY CONFIGURATION
● 256MB of DDR SDRAM - 730MHz DDR

3D GRAPHICS FEATURES
● Eight parallel rendering pipelines process up to 3.3 billion pixels per second
● Four parallel geometry engines process up to 380 million transformed and lit polygons per second
● High precision 10-bit per channel frame buffer support
● 256-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 with an unlimited number of instructions and flow control
● 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
● New technology processes up to 18.2 billion anti-aliased samples per second for unprecedented performance
● 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

HYPER Z? 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
● 8.8 : 1 Compression Ratio
● Optimized Z-Cache for enhanced performance of shadow volumes

TRUFORM? II
● 2nd generation N-patch higher order surface support
● Discrete and continuous tessellation levels per polygon for dynamic LOD
● DirectX 9.0 displacement mapping


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? video de-blocking technology
● 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

DISPLAY SUPPORT
● 15-pin VGA connector for analog CRT
● S-video or composite connector for TV/VCR
● DVI-I connector for digital CRT or flat panel
● Independent resolutions and refresh rates for any two connected displays


GENERAL FEATURES
● Comprehensive 2x, 4x, and 8x AGP support
● High performance quad-channel DDR or DDR2 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

Radeon 9600 XT Specifications:

RADEON 9600 XT (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

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


     

     

Asus provided an impressive compliment of bundled software and accessories with both of these cards.  Included with the Asus Radeon 9800 and 9600 XTs, we found a ViVo break-out box, a DVI-to-DB15 adapter and a total of eights different CDs, two of which were full version games - Gun Metal and Battle Engine Aquila.  There was also a coupon in the box good for a copy of Half Life 2, when it is finally released, bringing the total number of actual games to three.  Another CD is loaded with demo versions of some popular games like Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, Warcraft III, Bug Mutha Truckers, BREED, Colin McRae Rally 3 and Toca Race driver.  And they didn't stop there.  An assortment of other applications were bundled with the cards as well, including DVD Playback software, Ulead Cool 3D SE, Photo Express SE, and Cyberlink's MediaShow SE and PowerDirector ME Pro.  Asus' Driver / Utility CD is also jammed with useful goodies.  On this CD we found all of the necessary drivers, along with a host of tools like Asus' Smart Doctor 2 overclocking and hardware monitoring utility and their custom GameFace utility, which is basically a video conferencing tool targeted at gamers.  Lastly, Asus included Video Security and Digital VCR applications that work in conjunction with the Video-In and Video-Out capabilities of these cards.  Overall, a very impressive bundle, there's something in here for everyone...

Video Software & Some Screenshots

Tags:  Asus, Radeon, XT

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