The good news is if you want a high end card you don’t have to spend $300 to get it.  Usually, the Radeon 9700 Pro cards retail for about $250, putting them halfway between ATI’s most aggressive midrange card, and the ultra high end 9800 Pro.  Aggressive midrange card, you say?  As you might know, ATI unveiled the 9600 XT of course.  (There is no particular reason why we keep linking to the Unreal2K3 benchmark, it just happens to have all the cards we keep talking about).  ATI is starting to take preorders on the 9600 XT for $199 on their website, but we digress.  Edit: Several readers have pointed out to me that the 9600 XT will be shipping with the single player version of Half Life 2. Naturally, if you were going to buy Half Life 2 anyway, you save yourself about $30 bucks or so by going with the XT card.

Derek and Anand trumped ATI’s 9600 XT the midrange champion, but as most of us conscious shoppers know, price can be a larger deciding factor than performance.  Gigacube and Sapphire both market 9600 Pro cards for $50 less than the XT.  It all depends if your $50 (25% percent of the cost) is worth 4 FPS in UT2K3 (13% percent performance).  Nay, $150 is the right price for a midrange video card.  However, in 8-10 weeks it sounds very plausible that the 9600 XT could fall to that magic $150 level.

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  • Anonymous User - Thursday, October 23, 2003 - link

    "9600 XT will be shipping with the single player version of Half Life 2"

    I take it the 9600XT is not coming out for a loooong time then?
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Thursday, October 23, 2003 - link

    Newegg seems to have the 9800np in stock, and several buyers say they've flashed successfully to pro. Can anyone confirm doing this and point to a site with instructions? Thanks. :-) Reply
  • scavio - Wednesday, October 22, 2003 - link

    Another...

    http://www.pcworld.com/news/article/0,aid,112727,0...

    Reply
  • scavio - Wednesday, October 22, 2003 - link

    Seems others disagree and say it will be multiplayer...

    http://www.firingsquad.com/news/newsarticle.asp?se...

    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 22, 2003 - link

    here are the requested links from tomshardware that the version of half-life 2 that comes bundled with the 9800xt/9600xt might be only the single player game >>http://www6.tomshardware.com/graphic/20030930/rade...


    http://www6.tomshardware.com/graphic/20030930/rade...
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 22, 2003 - link

    am i mad to buy a 9800 xt i am asking because i can still cancel order and buy a 9800pro instead Reply
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, October 21, 2003 - link

    Is there a recommendation for a "TV" card too, like an A-I-W? Christmas is coming up, so recommendations would be helpful (jingle-bells, jingle-bells, here's my Amazon.com wish list ...)

    I thought it a reasonably even-handed review, with only the HL2 price to consider. Maybe you could add a column estimating value of included s/ware?

    Oh, and #5 is just a sour-puss.
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, October 21, 2003 - link

    #15, can you confirm that the version of HL2 bundled with the XT's will only be single player? If so, give us a link to that page... Reply
  • Pete - Monday, October 20, 2003 - link

    Ah yes, and I see #13 already mentioned that. Cheers if you edit the article to include that quite salient fact. :) Reply
  • Pete - Monday, October 20, 2003 - link

    Kris, you really should mention that the $50 premium a 9600XT commands over a 9600 Pro includes a copy of HL2, and that the XT's 25% faster core will likely translate into 25% faster performance, as HL2 in DX9 mode seems to be shader-bound. Reply

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