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Boxing Day Sales

After reading most of the posts in the graphics cards section I have gleaned much valuble information which makes my job here easier, but when it comes down to it I still am having trouble making a decision. I want to upgrade my current video card of 2-3 or so years with a shiny new ATI board.

Currently I am running:
  • Asus 8200 Deluxe (pre Ti series)
  • with NVIDIA's geforce 3 GPU
  • 64mb of VRAM
  • 200MHz Core
  • 460MHz Memory

But do to lifes little unexpectations my video card savings pot has shrunk significantly. Basically I've got no more than $400CAD to blow on a new chip. The dilemma I've been having is should I just go with ATI's 9600PRO for the price of $320CAD (including taxes) or just wait for the next generation chips to come out and get a 9800XT or 9700PRO at discount price, the waiting is the hardest part and I lived through the 128mb boards without breaking down and buying one. Will it be really worth it to just get a 9600PRO or will I have to get a 256-bit board as early as mid 2004? Do you think the 9600PRO will sport Halflife 2 or other future games of 2004 maxed out?
256 meg is useless in the forseable future. 128 meg is all you will need. The diference in performance between the 9600/9700/9800 is due to higher clock speeds and faster memory and graphics chips.

If you're looking to get 2-3 years out of a new graphics card watch for the best price you can get on a 9700 PRO and wait/save a little more.

The 9600 PRO runs any game on the street now very well. It should be adequate for at least 1-2 years. Nobody is sure right now since the real killer DX9 games have been delayed so all we have is benchmarks to go by.


- geek -
If you can find it get the 9600XT instead of the 9600pro ... just a little extra bang I think and they are about the same price now ... well at least they are here in the "states". :)
Just to be clear I didn't mean 256mb, I meant bit. (thats why its in bold)

The funtion of a 256-bit card follows breifly as to my research on the topic.

Data Width -
The data width determine the range of colors can be display through the graphic card; The higher the data width is, the more colorfull picture you can have.

Here are some examples of a few ATI cards with 256-bit.

Here are some examples of many different brands using 256-bit.

I stress this factor because it seems to me to be a major funtion that will be utilized in future games, it also seems to be releated heavily on memory bandwidth as well, correct me if I'm wrong.

Here is a good site that explains bit depth further.
Ahh, ok I misunderstood.

Like I said go with the 9700 PRO if you can swing it. It has a wider data path (compared to the 9500/9600) as well as higher clock speeds.

As for the data width affecting color quality, it doesn't. It only affects how big a chunk of data can get moved from the graphics processor to memory in one gulp. That improves speed, not quality.

The color depth is either 16, 24 or 32 bit. That determines how many different colors can be displayed (how real a scene looks). All of the latest ATI cards use 24 bit color which is a compromise between speed and detail quality. The 24 bit looks excellent.

The current top end Nvidia cards support 16 or 32 bit but have a speed problem at 32 bit so drop down to 16 bit which produces less impressive renderings.


Overclocked Like A Mother
I personally went with the 9600Pro, because of the same questions you are having.
My main concern was can it play all DX9 games available to today. In this month's issue of MaximumPC, they list a bunch of games that are DX9 just so you can test drive your vid card. I have three of these demos and my 9600pro plays without a hiccup. Listed games include:

DeusEx: Invisible War
Star Wars: Knights of the old republic
Madden 2004
Halo PC

As well, August 2003 issue of MaximumPC listed the 9600 with the 9800 as being able to play Half-Life2 with full effects on.
Here is a quote from that issue:

"We should also note that when you run Half-Life2 on the next generation of videocards (DX10), the game may run faster than anything you'll see on a DX9 part, but it won't look any better."

It was because of this issue that made me decide to go with the 9600Pro, and use the rest of my cash to pick up some Corsair ram
to go with my mobo and CPU.

I am currently playing Call of Duty with all effects cranked to the max with no problem.

I personally think that HL2 is/was created with 128bit floating point color in mind.

Hope this helps you.

It helps very much, but now I am having doubts about the 9700pro versus the 9600pro, their features vary quite a bit and I love dual VGA on the 9600, but the DVI on the 9700 is hard to say no to. As far as I can see performance wise, the 9700 will rock the 9600 nicely with the differences in "Pixel Fillrates" and "Geometry Rates", although the price difference is massive! But again I think I'll just go with my gut on this one and buy a 9700pro tonight, by buying reasonably high end I won't have to upgrade when 256-bit floating point does start to be used because I probably won't upgrade the video card again for another 3 years. Too bad, I have to work all night instead of playing with my new card. :D

Thanks for all the help.

The direct comparison of the two using ATI’s official site finally sold me, check it out for yourselves here, very handy feature!


wow that is a lil much for my taste but i heard its a rock solid card congrats on your purchase..
Its a burn but the price went down to $450 for the 9800pro!!! I'm going to talk them into trading it for my 9700pro and a copy of DeusEX. :(
in england the XT is cheaper than the Pro and the XT is the better card and comes with the HL2 coupon, looking to get one in the new year.

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