Gigabyte GVR96X128D 9600XT

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The Gigabyte GVR96X128D 9600XT - Page 6

The GV-R96X128D 9600XT from Gigabyte
High-End Quality at a Mid-Range Price

By, Jeff Bouton
March 2, 2004

Benchmarks / Comparison With Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory
Q3 Engine Based Freebie


Wolfenstein: ET

We also ran through a batch of timedemos with the OpenGL game Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory.  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
Fast 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 done. 

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 66%.
 


 

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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Tweaked, Overclocked & Ready to Rock!

Tags:  Gigabyte, x1, XT, VR, R9

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