9500 > 9600?
ATI’s RADEON 9600 PRO launch last week has enthusiasts once again debating the efforts of ATI’s marketing team. As you saw in our review of the RADEON 9600 PRO, the RADEON 9600 PRO VPU often falls short of its predecessor, RADEON 9500 PRO, in some cases, by over 20%. When you naturally assume the RADEON 9600 PRO’s larger number equates to better performance, this can be a bit confusing to general consumers.
Of course, those in the know probably aren’t surprised to see the RADEON 9600 PRO falling short of the 9500 PRO in most tests. While it runs at a considerably higher clock speed and boasts more memory bandwidth (9.6GB/sec versus 8.8GB/sec), it takes a step back in that it only contains half as many pixel pipelines (four) as RADEON 9500 PRO. This limits the RADEON 9600 PRO’s fill rate to 1600Mtexels/sec, that’s less than a GeForce4 Ti 4200.
Based on our test results, we came to this conclusion in our RADEON 9600 PRO review: “If you’re in the market to buy today, you should probably run, not walk to the store and pick up a RADEON 9500 PRO if you really crave the fastest performance. ATI is phasing the RADEON 9500 PRO out of production in favor of the 9600 PRO, so it won’t be long before these cards dry up.”
With this in mind, we figured it was time to take a second look at RADEON 9500 PRO cards. This is where Tyan’s Tachyon G9500 PRO comes in.
Tachyon G9700 (bottom) and Tachyon G9500 (top)
Note the heatsink size difference
Non-reference 9500 PRO design
Tyan’s Tachyon line
After posting our original Tachyon G9700 PRO review last year, we were surprised by how few of you had heard of Tyan Computer Corporation. Founded in 1989, Tyan has made a name for itself in the motherboard market, with its emphasis historically on server and workstation products. Tyan does make a line of consumer desktop motherboards, but these products have traditionally featured little room for adjusting system parameters such as system bus speeds, making Tyan motherboards a rare sight in the average hardware enthusiast’s or gamers’ rig.
Tyan pulls a complete 180 with its graphics products however. Their Tachyon line of graphics cards is geared directly at the enthusiast market. Their Tachyon G9700 PRO featured a very impressive cooling setup. Not only was the surface area of the G9700 PRO’s heatsink significantly greater than anything else on the market, Tyan backed it up with a high-speed fan.
What really set the Tachyon G9700 PRO apart however is its unique hardware-monitoring feature. Dubbed the Tyan Graphics Monitor, this utility provided hardware monitoring of parameters such as core/memory temperature and voltages, as well as an overclocking function.
For the Tachyon G9500 PRO, Tyan has added even more improvements to the Tyan Graphics Monitor, now up to version 2.0. Now end users can actually enable automatic speed adjustment of the graphics core fan! This feature recently debuted in NVIDIA’s GeForce FX family.