The ASUS Radeon 9600XT/TVD is targeted at the mid-range buyer, where the combination of performance, features and price are extremely important. Our reference system is high-end, without being too extravagant, and features a Pentium 4-3.2E GHz Prescott processor, an Intel i875P AGP 8X motherboard and 2x512-MB of OCZ PC4200 EL memory. This is a nice performance base for this video card comparison, as it has the specifications and features needed for mid-range 3D benchmarking, while not getting into the ultra high-end configurations like the Pentium 4 EE or Athlon FX-53.
The comparison video cards are also taken from the mid-range competition, and along with the ASUS Radeon 9600XT, include the Radeon 9600 Pro, the GeForce FX 5700 Ultra and GeForce FX 5700. This gives us a nice cross-section of the mid-range video card options from ATI and NVIDIA, and should let us know how ASUS does against all forms of competition. 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 game tests such as Quake 3: Arena, Comanche 4, X2 Demo, Wolf: ET, and UT 2003, some DirectX 9 benchmarks like 3DMark 2003, GunMetal and AquaMark 3, along with newer games like UT 2004 and Halo. All testing has been performed using standard 1280x1024 32-bit settings, along with 2X anti-aliasing and 4X anisotropic filtering results included with the standard scores. The 2X AA and 4X AF settings are representative of the detail settings for mid-range gaming.
As with previous ASUS ATI-based cards, the ASUS Radeon 9600XT/TVD does not inherently support the OverDrive feature through the Catalyst reference drivers, and instead we have activated using the Smart Doctor II software. Due to this, we're presenting two performance metrics: one using the Catalyst drivers at standard clock speeds, and the other with ASUS enhanced drivers & Smart Doctor II dynamic HyperDrive overclocking in effect. Later on, we take the ASUS Radeon 9600XT/TVD on a manual overclocking trip, along with the requisite game benchmark scores.
* Please note that unless otherwise stated, all performance graph results equate to the standard "higher is better" format.