The graphics board itself comes with the ATI Radeon 9600XT GPU mounted. This particular VPU reportedly offers decent performance while still maintaining full DirectX 9 compatibility. We'll see the performance numbers a bit later, so we'll be able to see firsthand if this is an accurate assessment.
One thing of note is the missing 4-pin Molex connector. While still required for the more potent 9700 and 9800 series boards, it went away after the 9500 series in the mid-range board category. If you happen to be in short supply of extra power leads from your PSU, this can become an important consideration.
The overall design and layout of the board gives a pretty open and uncluttered design. It manages to keep a neat appearance and everything is mounted close enough to the PCB as to not lose the use of PCI slot #1 on your system board.
The back side of the board also offers nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing stands out away from the video card that might get in the way of the wiring harness that powers the motherboard.
The memory modules on this particular board are better than some others you might find. The Samsung modules pictured above are the 2.86ns variety and are rated to a maximum of 350MHz, or 700MHz DDR. Given the default memory speed of 600MHz for the Radeon 9600XT, there is already some promise here. But then, we'll talk about overclocking in a bit as well.
Back to the memory, though, we find ourselves with 128MB of the fast stuff. While there are 256MB versions of this board available, I have generally found the memory to be of a slower variety when used in the 256MB configuration. There is also nothing currently available that puts 128MB cards to the grindstone enough to really warrant the larger memory amounts. Unless you just have to have the larger card for bragging rights, you will find yourself with memory to spare with this board.
Though there is a standard heatsink used to keep things cool on this video board, the fan used is a good deal smaller (and quieter) than others I have seen. You won't have to worry about this board sounding like a vacuum cleaner, but you'll also have no problems with excessive heat either. Even when I was testing this board at overclocked speeds, heat was not an issue.
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