The ATi Radeon 9600
Overclocked & Ready To Rock...

By - Marco Chiappetta
April 18, 2003

Early Wednesday morning, the NDAs were lifted and multiple ATi Radeon 9600 Pro reviews hit the web.  Most analysts came to similar conclusions, praising the 9600 Pro for its feature set and image quality, but they came away a bit disappointed that it was outperformed by the comparably priced (at least initially) Radeon 9500 Pro in the majority of tests.  One part of the overall equation hadn't been answered though.  Initial attempts at overclocking the Radeon 9600 failed because the tweaking utilities that were available could not properly recognize the 9600 Pro VPU.  Due to the fact that the new RV350 core is built using a more advanced .13 micron manufacturing process, as opposed to the .15 micron process used for the R300, we had high hopes for its overclocking potential, but unfortunately we couldn't successfully overclock our sample...until now!  The hard working  folks at Rage3D have already updated their Rage3D tweak utility and it now properly recognizes the 9600 Pro!  So, how high were we able to take our card?  Read on to find out...

HotHardware's Test Setup
A Top-Of-The-Line Athlon Rig

 
AMD Athlon XP 3000+ (333MHz FSB)

Asus A7N8X Motherboard (nForce 2 Chipset with AGP 8X)

512MB Corsair PC3500C2 Platinum DDR RAM

On-Board NIC

On-Board Sound

Seagate 120GB SATA HD

Silicon Image SATA Controller

Lite-On 16X DVD-ROM

Standard Floppy Drive

Windows XP Professional with SP1

DirectX 9.0a

NVIDIA nForce Chipset Drivers v2.03

 

ATi Radeon 9600 Pro
ATi Radeon 9500 Pro
ATi Radeon 9700 Pro

ATi Catalyst Drivers - Version 3.2
 

Performance Comparisons With 3DMark2001 SE
Synthetic DX8 Action

A few early reports had Radeon 9600 Pro cards overclocking to almost 570MHz core clock speeds, with 350MHz+ memory speeds.  We weren't quite that lucky, but had great results nonetheless.  At core speeds in excess of 540MHz, with memory speeds hovering around 370MHz, we could complete some benchmarks, but had visual anomalies and the test system frequently hung.  So, we raised the AGP voltage to 1.7 and lowered the clock speeds until we found the point where all visual artifacts were gone, and the test system was able to complete all of our benchmarks without a problem.  We finally settled on a 519MHz core clock speed, with our memory clocked at 366MHz (732MHz DDR)!  That's a full 119MHz over the stock clock speed of 400MHz for the core, and 66MHz (132MHz DDR) over the stock memory clock speed of 300MHz (600MHz DDR)!  Keep in mind this was achieved with STOCK cooling, with no modifications made to the card whatsoever.  We ran through a complete set of benchmarks while overclocked to see what kind of real-world performance gains can be realized with the Radeon 9600 Pro running at overclocked levels...

The performance increases in 3DMark2001 was dramatic.  With the Radeon 9600 Pro overclocked, it overtook the 9500 Pro in every test except for one.  Only when running at a resolution of 1600x1200 with 4X AA enabled did the 9500 Pro come out ahead.  Overclocking the 9600 Pro yielded an approximate 28% performance gain across the board.  

3DMark03 and Comanche 4