The beauty of dealing with both of the HIS Excalibur cards is the extremely competitive prices both boards are boasting. Although nowhere near on par with the Radeon 9800XT in FPS, the Excalibur 9600XT visually performs on nearly the same level in real-world games. Adding in the 9800Pro IceQ's dangerously close in game performance, both visual and non-visual, HIS has greatly impressed us and surpassed all of our expectations.
ATi's Radeon 9800XT retails for $450.00 USD, while HIS 9800Pro IceQ 128MB goes for a competitive $329.00 USD. And for $130 less down the road you can purchase the Excalibur 9600XT 128MB. If you're looking to buy a card to be suitable for all of the upcoming games this New Year, I honestly would not highly recommend either of these two specific models. Future games will be extremely demanding, rapidly hogging up your card's entire onboard RAM. Titles such as Doom III and Half-Life 2 will need 256MB of RAM to run well under above average settings. Fortunately, a 256MB version is available for the 9800Pro IceQ.
If you're looking to purchase a card to adequately run any of the industry's current or near future titles, both of these HIS products will more than adequately do the job. At an extremely low price of $199.00, the Excalibur 9600XT is my absolute most recommended graphic card purchase of the year. HIS is leading in so many categories because of its sheer impressive price-per-performance ratio, that it's been standardizing throughout its line of products.
Don't let all this pretty talk distract you, the 9600XT suffered some minor, but permanent, graphical anomalies in various games. Not visual artifacts, yet patchy and sometimes poorly rendered images. Additionally, if you're a benchmark freak you'll be disappointed by both of the cards low scores in 3DMark03.
Putting your head and gaming envy first, and your need for speed at bay, both these products will be an absolute gift to your loved gamer this holiday, so much that HIS Excalibur 9600XT receives our prestigious TweakTown "MUST HAVE" Editor's Choice Award.
HIS Excalibur 9800 Pro IceQ
Ability to switch fan's operating speeds
$125 less than ATi's Radeon 9800XT
Packaged with no anti-static foil bag (?)
Consumes two PCI slots
HIS Excalibur 9600XT
Large RAM heatsinks
Spontaneous blotchy images
Almost impossible to find on the American market
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