The Card and The Test

The Hardware

Palit provided us with a rather amazing little 9600 GT, but we received it a little later than our EVGA parts and we didn't have two of the Palit cards to test SLI either. We've done our testing here with the parts EVGA sent us, but there are some very interesting 9600 GT parts coming out.

The Palit part absolutely deserves a mention, and we will be testing it out as soon as we get a chance. Among the notable features is the fact that Palit has provided not only 2 dual-link DVI ports, but interfaces for both HDMI and DisplayPort. There is also an optical SPDIF input on the back enabling audio to be sent over HDMI.

But let's get back to the hardware at hand. NVIDIA reports that the GeForce 9600 GT will draw about 95W in real world apps. This means it does require a PCIe power connector to provide the added juice over the 75W available from the motherboard via the PCIe x16 slot.

The reference design used by EVGA is single slot and makes use of a fan shroud that covers the entire front face of the card. The Palit card we received is a two slot solution, but the main reason for this seems to be the inclusion of all the added I/O. The EVGA part isn't very loud, but we will be interested in comparing the noise levels between the reference design and Palit's larger solution to see if there is any real advantage from going with the wider model.

Our Test Setup

All of today's tests were performed on the 64-bit version of Windows Vista running on a monster of a system. We test all of our graphics cards on high end hardware in order to eliminate the bottlenecks associated with anything but graphics. This means it isn't likely that our numbers will reflect what our readers will see when actually playing a game, but what it does show is which video card is actually capable of providing a better experience when in a situation where graphics processing is the bottle neck.

Isolating the graphics subsystem is important for a few reasons. We can't know what is in your system and we haven't (yet) been able to test every graphics card with every CPU and system memory configuration out there. If you run a system slower than our test bed, you may run into CPU or system memory limited situations, in which case average frame rate won't be governed only by the GPU.

So why is graphics card selection still important? Because the graphics card has the most impact on graphics quality and performance of any single component in the system, and because even in highly CPU limited situation we can still see slow frames come along and throw the GPU a curve ball. Having a more powerful GPU in your system will provide a smoother experience even in CPU limited situations that show less difference between two competing solutions. In a system limited case, dropping in a higher performance GPU will also enable you to turn on more features. We can't decide what eye candy is "better" as every gamer is different and will make their own trade offs. And for new GPU launches, we don't have the time to benchmark every permutation of every setting in every game we test.

The bottom line is that better performance from a GPU in a high end system will translate to more flexibility with options and smoother performance in a lower end system.

Here is our test configuration:

Test Configuratoin

Test Setup
CPU 2x Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9775 @ 3.20GHz
Motherboard Intel D5400XS (Skulltrail)
Video Cards ATI Radeon HD 3870
ATI Radeon HD 3850 256MB
ATI Radeon X1950 XTX
NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT 256MB
NVIDIA GeForce 9600 GT 512MB
NVIDIA GeForce 8600 GTS
Video Drivers Catalyst 8.2
ForceWare 169.28
ForceWare 174.12 (9600 GT only)
Hard Drive Seagate 7200.9 120GB 8MB 7200RPM
RAM 2xMicron 2GB FB-DIMM DDR2-8800
Operating System Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit

 

Power Tests

We did run some power tests, but keep in mind that they will be a little high due to the fact that this is, afterall, Skulltrail we are running.

Power Consumption at Idle
 

Power Consumption under Load (Oblivion 2560 x 1600)
 

AMD's hardware shines at idle power with CrossFire even coming in below the 9600 GT. NVIDIA absolutley remains competitive in terms of power consumption under load, which is good to see.

Index Crysis Performance
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  • ChronoReverse - Friday, February 22, 2008 - link

    The 7950's can't beat the x1950's much less the 7900 series. The gap has only widen as more modern games came out. Reply
  • Aberforth - Thursday, February 21, 2008 - link

    Crysis benchmark @ medium settings? gimme a break, Obviously this review is designed to show 9600GT in good light. Reply
  • rcc - Thursday, February 21, 2008 - link

    As I read it, it's designed to show how it compares to similar cards. Sure they could provide test in in Crysis at full settings, but it's a bit like providing grand prix lap times on a Tercel.

    Reply
  • Staples - Thursday, February 21, 2008 - link

    Either that or this was done very sloppy. The 8800GT 256 is mysteriously missing in all the benchmark which do not require a lot of video memory. In these tests, the 8800GT 256MB would win. I smell a rat. Reply
  • Kurotetsu - Thursday, February 21, 2008 - link

    "The benchmarks don't prop up the card I bought so it must be bogus!"

    If the 3850 was leading in that test, you wouldn't be complaining at all.

    Reply
  • Griswold - Thursday, February 21, 2008 - link

    (_,_) Reply
  • pmonti80 - Thursday, February 21, 2008 - link

    It's just a review made at the kind of settings most of the cards analized will be used. How useful can be a review were the cards are around 15 fps? Reply
  • ncage - Thursday, February 21, 2008 - link

    For those who want a more lengthy writeup with more games tested and a bigger selection of video cards then check out the review at tomshardware. I wanted a comparison between the 8800GT 512MB & the 9600GT which is available at toms. I will tell you they are pretty close in benchmark numbers but the 8800GT still wins in every case which im quite happy about since i just bought a 8800GT :). We will see how good value the 9600GT is after the etailers do their price gouging. Still Nvidia is doing a VERY good job in bring competition to the market. Reply
  • knitecrow - Thursday, February 21, 2008 - link

    bah... i am not going back to tom for anything Reply
  • murphyslabrat - Thursday, February 21, 2008 - link

    I am sure this is on everyone's mind: overclock the thing already! Reply

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