The Radeon 9600 XT is the newest entry to ATI's mid-range 3D card line, but we're sticking with a relatively high-end system configuration. Our reference system consists of a Pentium 4-3.2 GHz processor, an i875P AGP 8X motherboard and 2x256-MB of DDR400. This supplies the needed base for video card comparisons, and while providing a lot of horsepower for our 3D benchmarks, the headroom ensures the system itself will not be a limiting factor.
The comparison video cards are from the same mid-range segment and will help determine the performance value of the 500 MHz RV350 core. So along with the Radeon 9600 XT, we've assembled the natural Radeon 9600 Pro competition, along with a Radeon 9600, and GeForce FX 5600. This cuts across the mid-range offerings and will give us a clear view how the new Radeon 9600 XT compares to the Radeon 9600 Pro. Our operating system is Windows XP Pro SP1 with DirectX 9b, and all video cards have been tested with AGP 8X and Fast Writes enabled.
Our game benchmark selection includes the standard tests such as Quake 3: Arena, 3DMark 2001SE Pro, UT 2003, and Return to Castle Wolfenstein, as well as some newer DirectX 9 benchmarks such as 3DMark 2003, GunMetal and Aquamark 3. We've even added in Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory for a bit higher-end Quake engine-based benchmarking. All testing has been performed using standard 32-bit settings, along with several anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering charts alongside the standard tests. For these tests, 2X AA and 4X AF settings have been used, which are representative of the detail settings for mainstream gamers.
* Please note that unless otherwise stated, all performance graph results equate to the standard "higher is better" format.