Asus Radeon 9x00 XTs

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The Asus Radeon 9x00 XTs - Page 6

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

By, Marco Chiappetta
November 25, 2003

Head-to-Head Performance With Tomb Raider: AOD
Lara is Back! As Crappy as Ever!


Tomb Raider: AOD

Although Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness won't be winning any "Game of the Year" awards, it is one of the more advanced DirectX games currently available.  We've recorded a custom demo run of Lara jogging through a indoor garden area of the "Prague3" map. When using the Pixel Shader 2.0 code path, this area of the game utilizes a DOF (depth of field) blurring effect to enhance your sense of depth and size. We ran our custom demo at 1024x768 and at 1600x1200 using both the Pixel Shader 1.4 and 2.0 code paths (with and without 4x anti-aliasing in the PS 2.0 tests).

After the somewhat disappointing showing in the Wolfenstein benchmarks, we're sure the fanATics among you will be happy to see these Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness scores.  With the exception of the Pixel Shader 1.4 test at 1024x768 where the 5950 Ultra barely slid by the 9800 XT, and the same test at 1600x1200 where the 5700 Ultra nudged past the 9600 XT, the Asus built Radeons simply outclassed the NVIDIA powered cards.  If you are seeking proof that NVIDIA needs to coerce more performance from their parts executing Pixel Shader 2.0 code, look no further.

Overclocking With The Asus Radeon XTs
Fast is Good.  Faster is Better!


Asus Smart Doctor

With their custom, copper / aluminum coolers, variable speed fans, and bright orange PCBs, these Asus built Radeon XTs were just begging to be overclocked.  There are a variety of different tools available to do the job, like Rage3D Tweak or PowerStrip, but we opted for Asus own Smart Doctor Utility.  With Smart Doctor, users can monitor voltages, temperatures and fan speeds, as well as overclock the GPU core and on-board memory.  We found the Smart Doctor utility to be very stable and easy to use.  It's not quite as sleek as having ATi's dynamic "Overdrive" feature, but it should satiate anyone looking to push their card beyond its rated speed.  Unfortunately, Asus used a different method than ATi to monitor temps, fan speeds and voltages, which is incompatible with the new Overdrive feature that debuted in the Catalyst 3.8 drivers.

We raised the core and memory clock speeds on both of the Asus Radeon 9x00 XTs until we begun to see visual anomalies during the benchmarks.  Both cards were actually capable of higher speeds and remaining "stable", but we were looking for the maximum clock speeds attainable without affecting image quality.  In the end, we were able to take the 9800 XT's core up to 435MHz from its default speed of 405MHz, and its memory from 728MHz DDR (364MHz actual) to 784MHz DDR (392MHz actual).  The Asus Radeon 9800 XT's final overclocked speed was a bit of a letdown after seeing our "ATi Built" card hit 455MHz / 800MHz, but you mileage may vary.  Keep in mind we were using an engineering sample.  Retail ready parts may very well hit higher speeds.  The Asus Radeon 9600 XT was a somewhat better overclocker, hitting levels similar to our built by ATi Radeon 9600 XT.  With the Asus 9600 XT we settled for a core clock speed of 576MHz with 668MHz DDR (334MHz actual) memory clock.  The performance gains we achieved with the cards overclocked are represented in the graph above.

Asus has done an excellent job with their Radeon 9800 XT/TVD and Radeon 9600 XT/TVD.  These are two of the most feature packed products in their respective categories, with full ViVo functionality and the inherent feature set of their Radeon GPUs, rivaled only by the ATi built "All-In-Wonders".  Both cards are for sale at multiple on-line resellers at competitive price points as well, hovering around $195.00+ for 9600 XT and $485.00+ for the 9800 XT (non-TVD versions without ViVo are also available at lower prices).  Their bundles were top notch, and both cards are backed by one of the most respected manufacturers in the business.  We were, however, let down a bit when we overclocked these cards and aren't thrilled that ATi's Overdrive feature won't work with them either.  In the end though, when you factor in the features, bundles and build quality, you'd be hard pressed to find better products at the moment.  We're giving both the Asus Radeon 9800 XT/TVD and Asus Radeon 9600 XT/TVD solid 9s on the HotHardware Heat Meter...

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Tags:  Asus, Radeon, XT

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