The benchmark testing came out as we anticipated, as the Radeon 9600 XT is effectively a higher-clocked revision of the Radeon 9600 Pro. We expected better-than Radeon 9600 Pro performance and we got it, even though the overall results showed modest increases. Even so, it was interesting to see where the higher clock rates paid off the most, and in which scenarios the anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering settings yielded the higher gains.
The Radeon 9600 XT may be a higher clocked version of the Radeon 9600 Pro, but at least according to ATI's website, the price will be very similar. The ShopATI webstore has both their Radeon 9600 Pro and 9600 XT (pre-order) listed at $199, and although street prices can be lower, this points to a virtually free upgrade for new video card buyers. The Radeon 9600 XT may offer only a modest performance boost, but when offered at prices similar to the current Radeon 9600 Pro, it's a welcome upgrade.
* Please note that online prices reflect Retail models. Prices are taken at the time of review, and are not intended to reflect long-term trends.
ATI increased performance levels at the high-end with the Radeon 9800 XT, and the Radeon 9600 XT serves the same purpose, only at the mainstream segment. This card provides added performance at price point equivalent to the Radeon 9600 Pro, and the extra core speed will come in handy with newer games like Half-Life 2, that really stress the GPU's processing power. The ATI Radeon 9600 XT is a nice upgrade to a popular mid-range line, offers a lot of value to new video card and system buyers.