With X2 - The Threat
A Hot New Space-Sim
X2 - The
Threat is a game that is due out in November, that
probably hasn't received too much press...that is, until
now. A demo version can be downloaded from
and it is simply a gorgeous space simulation. The
benchmark is enabled by a checkbox within the demo,
albeit a long one to complete. Egosoft promises
that X2 will provide gamers with the best gaming
experience with sound and graphics to match, and based
on what we saw in the demo, we would have to agree.
The same resolutions and optimizations were used with
this benchmark as well.
In our final test, we saw the Radeon 9600XT return to the
top of the charts, pulling slightly higher than the 9600
Pro, and from 25-33% higher than the GeForce FX 5600 without
AA enabled. From there, we saw mirror images in all of
the AA and AF tests for all three cards and both
resolutions. Enabling four samples of AA sapped the
frame rates, 6XAA even more so, especially on the 5600.
Overclocking With The 128MB Radeon 9600 XT
Because we just couldn't leave well enough alone
We admit we were bummed when the Overdrive tab didn't show
up in the Control Panels. ATi claims that the 9600 XT
should be be able to hit 520-530MHz easily when using
Overdrive with their next driver revision. We did take
a stab at overclocking the card ourselves using a
third-party overclocking utility, and found that the latest
PowerStrip was up to the challenge. With the new low-k
die process, we figured there might be some headroom to play
with, and boy were we right. We were able to take the
9600 XT all the way up to 580MHz while also raising the
memory speeds up a notch to 335MHz (670MHz effective).
We went back to testing, and chose Gun Metal as our
reference point. Remember that Gun Metal was easily
one of the most punishing tasks to complete, and were were
barely able to break 10 frames per second at 1280x1024.
So, how did we do now...
The word you might be looking for is impressive. By
overclocking the Radeon 9600 XT, we gained an additional
7.29 frames, which comes out to a 66% increase, well above
the 16% increase in core speed. We've also more than
doubled the frame rates of the other two cards. A
score like this made us glad we were able to back and test,
as the extra performance definitely adds to the rosy outlook
for the 9600 XT. Why pay more for a high-end card when
you can get a performance boost like this for free?
With a MSRP set
at $199, and street prices that will probably settle in
around $170, the Radeon 9600 XT is ready to make a big
splash. It just might be the best performance to price
ratio video card that we have seen in the labs in some time.
Add in Overdrive with the Catalyst 3.9 drivers, and the
performance should be able to be increased even further
simply by clicking on 'Apply'. Graphic quality
is able to be had without sacrificing speed, even when
testing today's newest titles using DX9 shaders, something
the competition can't say with a straight face. By
releasing the 9600 XT and 9800 XT in conjunction with the
Catalyst 3.8 drivers, ATi is making a statement that they
have no intentions on letting their momentum slip.
It should come as no surprise that NVIDIA has something in
the works as well, but whose stockings will Santa be filling
with treats, while the other gets coal? It's the stuff
that holiday dreams and wish lists are made for.
Based on what
we've seen in the benchmarks and relation to the price
point, and the powerful additions provided by the Catalyst
3.8 drivers, we're giving the ATi Radeon 9600 XT a 9.5 on
the HotHardware Heat Meter, and, like its big brother, an
Editor's Choice Award.
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