The mainstream graphics card market is currently overflowing. That is to be of no surprise as this is obviously the most luxurious market when it comes to overall sales. No wonder manufacturers are growing in numbers literally by the day.
Until recently, there were two main cards vying for superiority in this field. NVIDIA’s GeForce FX5600 Ultra and ATI’s Radeon 9600Pro. Both cards offer, well, almost the same performance. Lately, both graphics giants introduced new graphics card to further their claim on the mainstream throne. NVIDIA released their FX5700 Ultra while ATI released their Radeon 9600XT. Both new cards are still not available to the majority of the public. This leaves enough time for the “old” mainstream cards like the FX5600Ultra and the Radeon 9600Pro to flood the market. Like with all new products, prices of previous releases goes down dramatically. This can only be good to us, the consumers.
Today, we will be looking at a special Radeon 9600Pro from GeXcube. They said all 9600Pros are created equal. Well, this card will try to disprove that. Let’s find out how this card is different from all the rest. Introducing, the GeXcube Radeon 9600Pro EXTREME.
Who’s GeXcube? They might sound like a new player to you but they are actually GigaXcube (GigaCube). They have since changed their name probably to avoid confusion with Gigabyte. We have done a review of their products in our Radeon Kings article and they have proven to be a very good contender in the ATI graphics card market.
The GeXcube Radeon 9600Pro EXTREME is your typical ATI 9600Pro reference card with a twist. Unlike most 9600Pro who uses 3.3ns or even 2.8ns memory chips, this unique 9600Pro version uses 2.5ns chips. Thus, the EXTREME monicker. Aside from that, there is no other difference. However, performance wise, we know what a big difference this will do for your gaming experience. Let’s find out if this holds true…
The card itself looks very similar to the reference design with the exception of a space allocated for an optional video-in encoder chip. PCB is red with a HSF that seems to be an ATI original aluminum heatsink. Note that a fan grill was also fitted. An added plus. Noise is similar to the 2 other 9600Pros I have here in the labs which is quite silent. Obviously due to the low heat output of the 9600Pro core. There is also the presence of a TIM between the VPU and the heatsink which I think is a bad choice due to obvious reasons. A thermal paste would have preferable.
The 128mb memory used on this card are Samsung chips rated at 2.5ns, allowing for extreme overclockability. By now you have probably guessed that this is the main selling point of this card. Luckily, this card is equipped with some very nice aluminum ramsinks that will help squeeze out the last juice out of the very fast memory chip. Thermal tape was used to mate the ramsinks to the memory.
The GeXcube Radeon 9600Pro EXTREME really amazed us. Don’t let the looks fool you. It may look like your standard 9600Pro but this card is no way near that. It is way more than that. There is not much to say about this card really as the performance already speaks for itself. Having a faster default speed via the 2.5ns chips has definitely boosted its performance by almost 20% over the standard 9600Pros. Compared to its nVidia competition, the FX5600 Ultra just couldn’t keep up up with this EXTREME 9600Pro card.
Overclocked, this card just puts icing on the cake. The performance achieved was way more than what you’d expect from a 9600Pro. We saw a whopping 20-35% increase in overall performance over the standard 9600Pro card depending on the game played. GeXcube was perfectly spot on in giving this card the “EXTREME” name.
Pricewise, this card is no more expensive than what the major players are charging for their 9600Pro cards here. With the prices of 9600Pros even going down with the release of the 9600XT’s, this card is definitely the best bang for your buck at the moment. For those wanting a gaming card but don’t want to spend mega bucks for it, then the GeXcube Radeon 9600Pro EXTREME perfectly fits the bill. A must have mainstream card with the best overclocking experience out of the box. We give this card our Editor’s Choice for all the obvious reasons stated above.