ATI 9800XT and 9600XT boards
So what's the deal with the ATI 9800XT and 9600XT boards?
I mean, aside from the "XT," how are they different from the current 9800 and 9600 boards?
At $199, the 9600XT sounds like an awesome deal, especially if they're bundling Half-Life 2 with it. You're basically paying $149 for the board.
Re: ATI 9800XT and 9600XT boards
Well they're clocked a little faster, but the kicker is that they have temperature sensors.. the word is that the new drivers will allow for dynamic overclocking of these cards using said sensors. Cool idea (no pun intended).
Originally Posted by Woolen Horde
Yup, a little faster. The 9800XT probably isn't $200 faster than than the 9800 Pro. The dynamic overclock is an interesting wrinkle. Still the 9800XT is top of the line, and according to Anand's numbers, better than nVidia's next product refresh, so if you're dying to drop $500 on a vidcard, the ATI is your best choice. ATI is actually promoting the XT line as highly overclockable. The 9600XT with a free copy of Half-Life 2 is probably the best deal. Comes clocked at like 500 Mhz stock!
Best thing about the 9800XT is that it'll drive the 9800 Pro prices down.
There's a 9800 SE for $175 on Pricewatch. What's the difference between the SE and the Pro? Cause the next higher-priced 9800 is about $100 more. So do I need to seize the day?
Also, the 9800 has twice the pipes as the 9600, right, so it's the better board, by far?
Answering questions about the differences between different "sub-models" is pretty much impossible. I've thought about buying a new graphics card and I think it's pretty much impossible to eliminate luck from the decision. I think Sapphire has 6-8 different models of the 9600, differing in memory speeds, gpu speeds, cooling and perhaps other factors as well (like the "bitness" or width of the memory interface, such as 64/128/256). When comparing different offerings I often notice that the speeds are not advertised on their websites at all. If it is a lot cheaper, it's probably a lot slower as well though.
That means that if you buy a 9600 or 9800 (se,pro,"plain",...) you won't always know the speed of the card from that suffix, you have to check somewhere else. I think that the Geforce "Ultra" cards have fixed frequencies and that this is basically true for "Pro" as well, but I have seen exceptions (protected by a smaller additional suffix). It's a mess in any case.
It doesn't help that most of the tests I see are for the Ultra or Pro versions. This is not surprising; in order to test anything else you would have to test the specific card. And my budget doesn't like the idea of Ultra or Pro cards.
The 9800 SE is a crippled 9800, it has only four rendering pipelines enabled (as a pose to 8 on a regular 9800). Apparently, you can flash these cards with 9800 bios and enable all eight pipelines with some probability of success... but it's not a great deal at face value, in fact quite the opposite.
Originally Posted by Woolen Horde
The 9600XT isn't in the hands of reviewers quite yet, but with the clock speeds they're pushing (500Mhz on the core) for what is basically a 9600 Pro... that is probably going to be THE kickass $200 or less card.
Yes, Catalyst 3.8 will enable automatic overclocking on the 9800XT. You'll have to wait a few weeks for Catalyst 3.9 to get that feature on the 9600XT (they didn't have samples back in time to do enough testing on the 3.8s, so it's one driver behind).
The way that works is this: the chips have thermal sensors. They report to the driver what temp they're running at, and the driver chooses one of three different clock speeds based on that. It's not a huge overclock, but a nice little extra boost if your case is cool inside.
Note that the overclocking only affects the chips core clock speed, not memory speed. ATI is working on that, but it'll be awhile yet, and it might only be for a future product or something, who knows. So a great many games are limited more by memory bandwidth, and you won't see a big boost from this dynamic overclocking. On the other hand, games like Half-Life 2 and other shader-heavy games will probably see a nice little bump from the core clock increases.
Think I'm sold on the 9600XT myself, it's almost that time to start thinking about it.