We had been impressed with Asus'
NVIDIA powered cards in past reviews, so we were eager to
get our hand on these cards to give them a thorough
inspection. Asus has historically gone the extra mile
to differentiate their products from the competition and
with their new Radeons, that tradition continues.
Let's take a closer look...
Asus Radeon 9800 XT & 9600 XT
Close and Personal
ASUS RADEON 9600 XT
The first thing that jumped out
at us with regard to the Asus Radeon 9600 XT/TVD, and the
9800 XT/TVD for that matter, was the bright orange PCB.
It's definitely unique! The board's layout, however,
conforms to ATi's standard Radeon 9600 XT reference design.
The 128MB of memory populating this card is comprised of
2.8ns Samsung chips rated for 350MHz, but it is clocked at a
stock speed of 300MHz (600MHz DDR). The GPU, which is
tucked away under the custom aluminum Asus cooler, is
clocked at 500MHz. As you can see in the pictures
above, the fan mounted within the heatsink has three leads -
two are for power and the third is for monitoring the fan's
rotation speed. The fan, or fans in the 9800 XT's
case, spin-up or down depending on the temperature of the
ASUS RADEON 9800 XT
The Asus Radeon 9800 XT/TVD also
conforms to ATi's reference board design, with the exception
of the large, dual-fan, copper heat-pipe cooler (Note:
our 9800 XT sample had a default core clock speed of 405MHz,
7MHz lower than advertised. Cards sold at retail
should be clocked at the proper speed of 412MHz). The
256MB of high-speed memory used on the 9800 XT is built by
(Details Available Here), and is cooled on both sides by
the custom Asus heatsink. The heatsink itself is
mounted with spring-loaded screws that keep the plates
firmly in place. The coolers used on these cards don't
encroach on the adjacent PCI slot and we found them to be
virtually inaudible next to our CPU's heatsink / fan combo.
Both cards are equipped with single DVI and DB15 monitor
connectors and ATi's Rage Theater chip, which give these
products their ViVo capabilities.
Video Editing Tools & Other - Screenshots
Who Wants to Make a Movie?
As we mentioned on the previous
page, Asus included a few applications meant to work in
conjunction with the ViVo capabilities of these cards.
With Cyberlink's MediaShow SE (pictured on the left), users
can quickly piece together images and audio clips, to create
simple slide shows. We found this application to be
fairly easy to use and think it definitely adds some value
to these cards. Another Cyberlink product,
PowerDirector ME Pro, was also included. PowerDirector
ME Pro is a complete video capture and editing package, but
unfortunately the version Asus included was somewhat
limited. Anytime we tried to use some of the more
advanced features, we were prompted to upgrade to the
full-retail version. These cards use the standard ATi
WDM capture drivers though, so any major video editing
software suite should work properly with them.
Screenshots With The Asus XTs
Payne 2 & NFS: Underground
comprehensive image quality comparisons between the Radeon
9800 XT and GeForce FX 5950 Ultra,
For more comprehensive image quality comparisons between the
Radeon 9600 XT and GeForce FX 5700 Ultra,
We spent some
quality time gaming with both of these cards before running
our suite of benchmarks. The screen shots posted above are
from Rockstar's Max Payne 2 and EA's recently released Need
For Speed: Underground. We set our screen resolution
to 1024x768 and enabled 4X Anti-Aliasing with 16X
Anisotropic filtering and enjoyed a few hours taking down
the bad guys and burning up the road. For the most part,
frame rates with the 9600 XT were fine, but there some
occasional hiccups in both games when the on-screen action
got particularly heavy. Users looking to "turn it all
on" should probably look for a card with a little more
horsepower than the 9600 XT. The Asus Radeon 9800 XT,
however, produced smooth, silky frame rates throughout.
The Test System, AquaMark3 & Halo