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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [02.09.04]
Manufactured by: Powercolor

Est. Street Price: $190

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The Card

Now that we have the VIVO features and bundle covered, let's have a look at the card itself.

The Bravo is one step above a reference design; rather than include the wimpy stock heatsink by ATI, Powercolor includes a nice looking ported heatsink, with a fan that lights up red when the power is turned on.

So I guess we can call this "INTES"? We've seen the benefit of Abit's "OTES" cooling system, directing airflow outside the case. Powercolor's heatsink takes that idea, and reverses it somewhat, blowing the air in the direction of the back of the card. Since the 9600XT barely gets hot at all, we're not going to rag on Powercolor too much for this silly design. It is nice to have something unique though!

On the top of the card, you'll find a nice looking memory heatsink, covering a pair of BGA chips. Unfortunately though, there are no heatsinks on the other side! That's right, only half of your memory chips are benefiting from a heatsink! Another weird decision by Powercolor designers; they have the right idea in making their card stand out from reference design, but only went half way with it. The Bravo looks good on one side, but we aren't going to see any benefits from these fancy heatsinks and cooler designs.

The Specs

Once again, we have to cover the specs and price of the 9600XT Bravo.

The Bravo version isn't quite showing up price search engines just yet, but we came to the conclusion that it will cost around $190 when it eventually shows up. This is what most other 128MB VIVO 9600XT's go for. Non-VIVO versions go for around $150, so you have to really think hard if video-in is something you want to spend $40 on.

Another thing we have been mentioning in our later 9600XT reviews is the fact that NVIDIA has basically created a 'ringer' to defeat it in the $150-200 price range.

Normally, the 9600XT cards would compete against the GeForceFX 5700 Ultra, and they actually match up quite well there (we found the 5700U to be faster in many cases, but when filtering is enabled, the 9600XT walks away). But last December (right when we reviewed the 5700 Ultra), NVIDIA announced their newest mid-range video chipset; the 5900XT.

The 5900XT is basically a 5900 with a slightly lower clock speed. Offered at the $200 price range, NVIDIA basically killed their own 5700 Ultra, but in turn they are looking to kill ATI's 9600XT.

Have a look at the specs first, then we'll get to the benchmarks.

Core Clock Speed Pixel Pipelines mPixel Fillrate per second Tex Units per Pipeline Mtexel Fillrate per second Memory Speed Memory Bus Width Peak Memory Bandwidth
GeForceFX 5700 Ultra 475 MHz 4 1900 1 1900 900 MHz 128 bit 14.4 GB/s
GeForceFX 5900XT 390 MHz 4 1560 2 3120 700 MHz 256 bit 22.4 GB/s
Radeon 9600XT 500 MHz 4 2000 1 2000 600 MHz 128 bit 9.6 GB/s

As you can see, the 5900XT features two tex units per pipeline, offering amazing multi-texturing fill rate performance. Also, it has twice the memory bus width as the 9600XT and 5700 Ultra, and gobs more memory bandwidth.

Now you can see why we call the 5900XT card a ringer.

So it will be a tough battle for our 9600XT here today, but we'll see how it does against the 5900XT and 5700 Ultra.

The Test

Here is the system used for testing all video cards:

CPU: Pentium 4 3.20E GHz "Prescott"
Motherboard: DFI Lanparty PRO875B
RAM: 512MB Kingmax DDR400
HDD: Seagate Barracuda IV 80GB ATA100
OS: WinXP with SP1 and DirectX 9b

ATI Catalyst 4.0 (WHQL Certified)
NVIDIA Detonator 53.03 (WHQL Certified)

All publicly available benchmarks can be found on our Downloads Page.

We did almost every test in 3 modes per card. These modes are ones that most gamers will actually use when they play games.

1024x768 - To produce a real gaming environment many will use
1600x1200 - To produce a high resolution gaming environment (for you boys with big monitors!)
1024x768 w/ 4xAA and 8x Aniso - A gaming environment most high end users will use

On with the show!

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