Benchmarks / Comparison
Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory
Engine Based Freebie
We also ran through a
batch of timedemos with the OpenGL game Wolfenstein:
ET is a free, standalone multiplayer game that is based
on the original Return to Castle Wolfenstein, which was
released a few years back. It uses a heavily
modified version of the Quake 3 engine which makes it a
very easy to use benchmarking tool. We created a
custom demo and used the built-in timedemo feature to
check each card's frame rate. The tests below were
run at 1024x768 and again at 1600x1200, without
anti-aliasing and with 4X AA.
It looks like
Wolfenstein is another benchmark that plays to the GeForce
5700 Ultra's strengths. The Ultra held no less than a
16FPS lead with NO AA and hardly blinked when we turned on
4X AA. The two ATi cards, on the other hand, took
severe performance hits with 4X AA enabled, reaching only
1/3 the FPS the GeForce card was capable of.
Overclocking with the Gigabyte GV-R96X128D 9600XT
is Good. Faster is Better!
One of the
highlights of Radeon XT cards are their inherent
overclockability. However, when we installed the
GV-R96X128D and the Catalyst 4.1s, no Overdrive option was
present. For some reason this feature was not enabled
by default. Nonetheless, Gigabyte did include their
own overclocking utility, although we found it quite
cumbersome to work with. The interface would not let
us dial in precise speeds, instead rounding up or down
several MHz, making it difficult to hone in on the peak
setting. We also found the clock scales limiting, not
letting us hit the higher end of the spectrum. So we
had to seek the assistance of Rage3D Tweak to get the job
We have to
admit, the GV-R96X128D can overclock like a son-of-a-gun.
Using Rage3D Tweak, we increased the GPU by 76MHz and the
memory by 140MHz effective clock rate. This resulted
in an increase of over 54% in Gun Metal scores. That didn't
seem right when you consider the GPU was running 15% over
stock and the memory was increased by 23%, but that's what
we got. In fact, our Tech Writer Rob Maloney saw
similar behavior when he reviewed the ATI 9600XT back in
October when he topped out at a gain of
As we wrap
things up, we walked away with a pretty good feeling about
the GV-R96X128D from Gigabyte. The card performed
quite well overall and posted impressive overclocking
results. We were however, disappointed that the
Overdrive feature was not enabled by default. Perhaps
it was an oversight or it's that Gigabyte wanted to push
their own overclocking utility instead. Nonetheless,
we did find that a newer BIOS was available for the card
that enabled Overdrive, but those of you running "legacy
free" systems will need to dig up that old floppy drive in
order to flash the card. Overclocking issues aside, we
found the card to be a good performer overall, putting up
competitive scores and best of class image quality.
When you factor how ATi based graphics cards can perform on
par to NVIDIA's cards without the need for oversized
cooling, you are getting a card that performs efficiently
and one that should enjoy a long lifespan since it doesn't
have excessive heat to control. In fact, when we were
finished testing our 5700 Ultra reference card, we found the
RAM chips extremely hot under normal load. That must have a
negative effect on the components overtime.
We found the
GV-R96X128D selling at
www.newegg.com for $169.99 and sporting a solid customer
rating. We can only agree with them. However, we
found the slightly better performing 5700 Ultra available
for an additional $5. If you want the best frame rate
you can get for a card in this class, perhaps the 5700 Ultra
is a better choice, depending on what games you are running.
When it comes down to it, we'd opt for the Gigabyte
GV-R96X128D 9600XT for its cooler, more efficient design and
seemingly better overall image rendering.
We give the GV-R96X128D from Gigabyte a Hot Hardware Heat
Meter Rating of a...
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