Gigabyte GV-R96P128D Radeon 9600 Pro Videocard Review
ATi released their Radeon 9700 Pro VPU in the summer of 2002 they've taken control of the graphics card markets. Even now ATI are still firmly in
the drivers seat, despite the recent release of nVidia's GeForceFX lineup. ATi knows though
that no matter how fast your high end part is, it's in the budget
and mainstream markets where the war is must be won.
Gigabyte (a tier one manufacturer) has been on the
ATi bandwagon since the release of the Radeon 8500 line of GPU's, and today we're
going to be looking at Gigabyte's mainstream Radeon 9600 Pro which is obviously
based on an ATi VPU.
Radeon 9600 Pro VPU is built on 0.13 micron technology instead of larger more
expensive 0.15 micron like the Radeon 9500/9700/9800's. This was a smart move
for ATi as it's better to experiment on the lower cost chipsets and have all the
quirks worked out by the time you migrate your high end VPU's to the smaller
manufacturing process. nVIDIA learned this the hard way with their GeForceFX 5800
retail price around $207 CDN ($155 US),
the Gigabyte Radeon 9600 Pro is quite aggressively priced; just below the that
of most GeForceFX 5600 class videocards (it's main competition). Despite
the reasonable price, the Gigabyte Radeon 9600 Pro does come with a few goodies
including full versions of Serious Sam, Oni and 4x4 Evo. PowerDVD software is also thrown in
for good measure.
Because the Gigabyte Radeon 9600 Pro
supports TV-Out, they also bundle a S-Video/Composite cable and a DVI to analog converter
for those of you who want to use dual monitors.
Gigabyte's earlier videocards were red in colour but
as you can see the Gigabyte decided to go with blue instead (the same colour for
their motherboards). Aside from the missing floppy drive power connector on the
top right hand corner, the Radeon 9600 Pro uses the same Radeon
9700 Pro layout and design. Everything from capacitor and
component layout is the same.
Radeon 9600 Pro built on 0.13 micron technology, the core does not generate as
much heat thus Gigabyte can get by with equipping their card with a smaller
heatsink. There is no shim around the Radeon 9600 Pro VPU so any HSF you buy will
make direct contact with the core. Just be careful not to knock off one of
the resistors when installing something.
Surprisingly, Gigabyte equips their Radeon 9600 Pro with Samsung 2.8ns BGA DDR RAM, the
same found on the Radeon 9700/9800 Pro based videocards!
This was certainly good news but we wonder if
Gigabyte/ATi artificially limits overclocking like they did with earlier
videocards. We would have liked to see some sort of memory cooling as the
memory gets quite hot during operation. We were a bit disappointed to see the Gigabyte Radeon 9600 Pro will not
work with older motherboards which are not at least AGP 4x compliant either. Up next,