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Recently Creative Labs Europe made an interesting switch. Just as ASUS and Gigabyte are doing right now Creative Europe will offer both NVIDIA and ATI based graphics card solutions where in the past two years they sold NVIDIA products only. As it seems, Creative Europe will focus towards for the high-end segment to ATI yet offers a Radeon 9200 and 9600 in the mid/low-end also. Below you'll find a summary of a dialog that I just received from the Product Manager for graphics cards for Creative Labs Europe.
Historically we have always worked with multiple chip suppliers (at one time I was shipping cards from NVIDIA, 3Dfx and S3 at the same time) and now we are returning to that strategy. As graphics chips become more and more complex it is very hard for any company to be the price performance leader at all price points. And indeed this is the situation today.
By restricting myself to a single source I can only target a certain percentage of the market. So the move to multiple sources is a natural progression. We will continue to offer NVIDIA based product as long as there is a market for them and it is profitable for Creative to do so. Initial reaction to this deal has been great (a lot of customers have asked us to supply ATI graphics for a long time now).
First shipments of the new product already took place at December 4th (9200SE and 9600) the 9800XT a couple of days after that. The 9800XT is a 100% reference card, if you haven't done so you can read our reference review here.
Radeon 9800 XT 256MB
This is what's going to be Creative's Radeon 9800 XT 256MB, Radeon 9600 256MB and Radeon 9200 SE 128MB graphics cards at different-price points. The graphics cards cost $575 (470 Euro), $180 (170 Euro) and $67 ($55) in that order. The numbers above are estimates as Creative did not release a MSRP (Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price).
Radeon 9600 256MB
The 9600/9200 products are not 100% the same as reference cards from ATI with the exception of the 9800 XT.
Radeon 9200 SE 128MB
Besides the new Radeon-series graphics cards, Creative Technology will also offer offers a number of products powered by the latest GPUs from NVIDIA, including GeForce FX 5950 Ultra, GeForce FX 5900 128MB, GeForce FX 5600 XT, GeForce FX 5600 Ultra, GeForce FX 5600, GeForce FX 5200 Ultra as well as GeForce FX 5200 for PCI or AGP bus. Ever since 2001 Creative Labs does not produce the cards themselves anymore. Rumor is that MSI supplies NVIDIA-based solutions for Creative Labs Europe, while CP Technology and Sapphire Technology produces Powered by ATI Radeon graphics cards for Creative Labs Asia. It makes sense that they deliver for Europe now also.
Today's product review will be about Creative's Radeon 9600 with 256 MB memory ... that's right 256 MB ! An ongoing trend lately is that we see more, much more memory utilized on graphics cards. Especially the high-end segment seems to need that extra chunk of memory to be as efficient as the card needs to be. So here we have this product that balances in the upper region of the low-end segment and the lower segment if the mid-range performing product yet equipped with an amount of memory that we only see in very specific high-end graphics cards. Today we are going to see if the 256 MB of memory is justified for this particular product, the product reviewed is the 3D Prophet 9600 with 256 MB DDR memory.
The main difference between the normal 9600 and the Pro version is as always based on differences in core and memory frequencies in the non-pro case we see a 325 MHz graphics core frequency and a low (2x)190 MHz Memory frequency and a 4 pixel pipeline architecture.