XFX 9600 GT 512MB Review

ccokeman - 2008-02-19 15:30:32 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: February 21, 2008
Price: $179.99

Introduction:

The masses of people eagerly awaiting the arrival of the new 9xxx series video cards from Nvidia will wait no more. The first of the 9xxx Nvidia graphics cards has arrived. The x600 designation of the series would lead one to believe that the 9600GT is the successor to the 8600 series. Will its performance be the start of a new round of speculation about its upcoming big brothers? Only time will tell the tale. Features of the XFX 9600GT include 512mb of GDDR3 memory clocked at 900MHz (1.8GHz) and a core clock of 650 MHz on its G94 core. These clock speeds are similar to many an 8800GT on the market. A mid range card with big core clock and memory speeds makes one think. What if?

 

Closer Look:

The XFX 9600GT comes in a smallish box that does not look large enough to have a graphics card inside. The front side of the package has large 9 over the trademark green X in the XFX logo. The 9 is just a hint at what is inside and denotes that this package carries a 9 series Nvidia card. Highlights on the front include the core speed of the GPU as well as the SLi capability. The rear of the package makes the claim that the 9600 GT is a "New Breed " and shatters all records.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pulling the outer sleeve off reveals the inner package. This inner package features a window through which you can see the 9600GT with the 9 graphic on the cooling solution. Opening the box shows that the card is indeed a full size card and is encased in a foam block and covered on top with foam as well.

 

 

Under the foam block that houses the XFX 9600GT is the documentation, driver disk, quick start guide, a door tag with the Alpha Dog imploring unwanted guest to leave you alone. Below the foam block you will find all of the cables and adapters that might be used with this card.

 


The cables and connectors that are part of the package include an S-video cable, S-video to component adapter, DVi to d-sub adapter and a dual 4 pin molex to 6 pin PCIe adapter.

 

 

Now that we have seen what is included in the package its time to get a little intimate with the XFX 9600GT.

Closer Look:

The XFX 9600GT is a PCIe video card for use in a 16x slot. This card features a core speed of 650MHz with a memory speed of 1.8GHz. The "9" logo that is on the outer sleeve of the package is again used on the heatsink.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To get the image from the system to that nice, LCD display or better yet, to that nice, big screen television, the 9600GT uses an S-video output or a DVI connection. Adapters are included in the bundle of accesories to allow for most connection types. To power the XFX 9600GT, there is only one 6 pin power connection needed. This is mounted on the tail end of the card, in the most common location.

 

 

 

The single slot cooling solution used on the 9600GT appears to use a copper heatpipe to aluminum fin construction to dissapate the heatload generated by the GPU. The fan that is used contains 15 blades to move air through the heatsink assembly.

 

 

The heatsink assembly is held in place by twelve screws. Remove these screws to pull the heatsink assembly from the video card. Under neath is a core that looks much smaller than the G80 cores. The thermal paste used on the core appears to be much the same as what has been used in the past, much being the operative word.

 

 

And now to the heart of the matter literally of course. Cleaned up and ready for a new application of ceramique is the G94 core used on the 9600GT.

 

Configuration:

Just putting that brand new XFX 9600GT into your system does not guarantee that it will work as it is intended to. For that to happen, you need to configure the card using the drivers and settings to optimize the performance for your needs.

Start out by inserting the software disk into the optical drive and let the autorun feature bring up the installation GUI. Once open, press enter to move onto the installation of the drivers. Choose video drivers and move forward.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Choose windows drivers and the installation process will begin. Allow the installer to complete and you will be prompted with a message that the computer must be restarted to complete the installation. Do so to finish the installation.

 

 

Once the installation is completed the place to configure the video card software is the Nvidia control panel.

 

With the drivers installed and the settings viewed in the control panel, it's time to move on to testing the XFX 9600GT out.

 

Specifications:

Chipset
NVIDIA GeForce 9600 GT

Bus Type                          

PCI-E 2.0

GPU Clock                      

650 MHz
Shader clock
1625 MHz
Memory Bus 
256-bit
Memory Type 
DDR3
Memory Size 
512 MB
Memory Speed       
1.8 GHz
Thermal Solution
FANSINK
Minimum Power Supply Requirement                  400 Watt / 6-pin connector
400 Watt / 6-pin connector
Outputs
TV out
HDTV
VGA
0
DVI
2
Dual-Link Support
DUAL
HDMI
No
Max Supported Resolution (DIGITAL)
2560 x 1600
Max Supported Resolution (ANALOG)
2048 x 1536
Turbo Cache Technology
NO
RoHS
Yes
HDCP
Yes
NVIDIA-SLI READY
2 way
Low Profile Compatible
No

Testing:

 

At OverclockersClub.com, we use a series of benchmarks to stress the graphics card. We will use a series of newer, as well as a few more seasoned gaming benchmarks to show how well the XFX 9600GT compares to some of the other enthusiast video cards on the market. All driver settings and clockspeeds will be left at factory default settings on both the CPU and GPU to minimize or eliminate any variables from impacting the results. The test system used in this review is listed below. After testing the card at stock speeds, I will overclock the video card to see what kind of performance can be gained.

Comparison Video Cards:

 

Overclocking:

Overclocked settings:

To overclock the XFX 9600GT I used Nvidia's Ntune software. I started at the default clock speeds of 650 on the core and 900 on the memory. From there I worked the core and memory clocks up until I found a good balance of clock and memory speed. The final speeds were 727 on the core and 1033 on the memory. To run these speeds I set the fan control manually to 100% to maximize the cooling capacity of the single slot cooling solution. For a $180 dollar card, a core speed increase of 77MHz and a memory speed increase of 133 MHz are not to shabby if you ask me. At no point did the temperatures get out of hand, which is surprising considering the size of the heatsink.

Benchmarks:

  1. Crysis
  2. Knights of the Sea
  3. Bioshock
  4. Call of Duty 4
  5. World in Conflict
  6. Call of Jaurez
  7. 3DMark 06 Professional

 

 

Testing:

Crysis is a new addition to the gaming benchmark suite used at OverclockersClub.com. This game is one of the most anticipated and system intensive games to be released to the gaming community. The Crysis single player demo includes both a CPU and GPU benchmark to test the performance of the processor and video card installed in the system.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At stock speeds, the 9600GT trounces the 3870 and puts up a good showing against the 8800GT.

Testing:

PT Boats: Knights of the Sea is a new DX10 title that features its own proprietary graphics engine currently in development. The game is a combination of real time strategy and simulation. You have the ability to control the entire crew or just a single member. Play as the German, Russian or Allied navies and prove your mettle on the open seas.

 

The settings we will use are below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 9600 keeps close to the 8800 at the lower resolutions, but falls to it at the higher end of the spectrum. It beats the 3870 in all resolutions.

Testing:

Benchmark: BioShock

BioShock is one of the newest games on the market. It is a demanding game that will make your hardware scream for mercy. This first-person shooter allows for an infinite number of weapons and modifications to provide a unique experience each time it is played.

 

Settings:

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this benchmark the 8800GT and 3870 share performance leads that even overclocking cannot overcome.

Testing:

Call of Duty 4 : Modern Warfare is the latest successor in the Call of Duty series. This iteration of the game is fought in many of the world's hot spots with modern armaments and firepower. You can play as either a U.S. Marine or British S.A.S. trooper.

 

The settings used are listed below:

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a card designed as an upgrade from the 8600 series, this card performs well against what may be a competitor in the 3870.

Testing:

World In Conflict is a newly released DX10 real time strategy game that simulated the all out war that the world hopes never comes. The difference in this RTS game is that it is not the typical generate wealth and build type of game. You advance by conquering your foe.

 

The settings we will use are listed below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nice performance on a demanding game.

Testing:

Call of Juarez is a DirectX10 First Person Shooter set in the Wild West of the late 1800s. The game is inspired in part by the movies of the Wild West genre of the seventies and eighties. The game can be played as both single player and multiplayer. The game focuses on realistic graphics and gameplay designed to take advantage of the latest video cards on the market.

 

The settings we will use are listed below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It took a big overclock to make it above 10 fps at 1920 x 1200.

Testing:

Benchmark: Company of Heroes (Opposing Fronts)

Company of Heroes (Opposing Fronts) is the latest chapter in the Company of Heroes series. The scene is WWII. The Mission is Operation Market Garden, the first Allied attempt to break into the Third Reich. Play as the British or Germans. This real time strategy game is brought to us by Relic entertainment.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the highest resolution, all of the cards with the exception of the 3850, are within 5 fps.

 

Testing:

3DMark06 is one of the benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest is begun. 3DMark06 presents a severe test for many of today's hardware components. Let's see how this setup fares. The settings we will use are listed below.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At 1024 x 768 the results are pretty interesting, but as the resolution moves up, the scale the scores for the 9600 dropped dramatically.

Conclusion:

Nvidia and XFX have delivered a video card that gives a surprising amount of performance for the money spent. In many of the benchmarks, the stock speed performance was similar, if not better than the HD3870. Now once the overclocking started, most of the performance gaps between the HD3870 and 9600GT were erased, with the exception being the performance in Call Of Duty 4 and BioShock. The performance gap was there but not as pronounced. Speaking of overclocking, the XFX 9600GT has a good bit of headroom, allowing for overclocking the base model up to, and beyond the XXX model clock and memory speeds. Nvidia and its partners have gone for the jugular with the price point that the 9600 has been offered at. $179.99 for the XFX 9600GT model and slightly higher for the higher speed models. That falls below the price point that the HD3850 was offered at in Q4 of 2007. If you already have an HD3870, the performance is similar so there is no real upgrade path here. Now if you have not purchased a card, and are surfing in the $150 to $200 zone waiting for the right deal, an opportunity has presented itself in the 9600GT. You can get a card that at times, has performance just short of an 8800GT and on par with the HD3870 for an attractive price point.

Pros:

 

Cons:



For a review of the 9600GT in SLI check out Neoseeker's Palit 9600GT SLI Review.