GeForce 9600 GT Roundup
Thanks to the cutthroat competition between AMD and NVIDIA, VGA prices are the lowest they’ve been in years. Just think, a year ago $200 bought you a 32-shader GeForce 8600 GTS with its 128-bit memory interface and middling performance. Today $200 bucks buys you a 128-shader GeForce 9800 GTX or one of ATI’s new 800-shader Radeon HD 4850 cards. (In fact, you can find Radeon HD 4850 cards selling for less than $160 after mail-in rebate online.)
But what if you don’t want to spend $200 on a new graphics upgrade? What if you don’t even want to spend $150? Previously spending less than $150 on a GPU was heresy if you craved 3D performance. But now that same $150 buys you a card that’s more than capable of sustaining playable frame rates at 1600x1200 with 4xAA and all the visuals cranked up in most games.
NVIDIA’s GeForce 9600 GT is one such graphics card that meets this criteria. Based on NVIDIA’s G94 GPU, the GeForce 9600 GT is outfitted with just 64 shaders, but thanks to its high clock speeds (the GeForce 9600 GT is actually clocked closer to the 9800 GTX than the 8800 GT) and 256-bit memory interface, it’s quite a capable performer.
Officially the GeForce 9600 GT is supposed to carry an MSRP of $149, but street prices on retail cards are actually much lower: GeForce 9600 GT cards on Newegg can be found for as low as $95 after mail-in rebate, and under $120 without any rebates applied at all. This makes it one of the best graphics values for the money on the market today. In this article we’ll be taking a look at eight different GeForce 9600 GT cards. The cards represented here all boast a variety of traits; some are overclocked from the factory, while some rely on NVIDIA’s stock clocks; many even have custom dual-slot cooling.
Chances are if you’re shopping for a 9600 GT, you may have considered one of these cards.
The following chart summarizes the feature set of the cards we’re reviewing today:
|GeForce 9600 GT Cards Compared|
|Card||Core Clock Speed||Stream Processor Clock Speed||Memory Speed||Game Bundle|
|ASUS EN9600 GT Silent||650MHz||1625MHz||900MHz||None|
|BFG GeForce 9600 GT OCX w/ThermoIntelligence||725MHz||1850MHz||975MHz||None|
|EVGA e-GeForce 9600 GT SSC||740MHz||1850MHz||975MHz||None|
|MSI N9600 GT Hybrid Freezer 1GB OC||700MHz||1680MHz||900MHz||None|
|Palit GeForce 9600 GT Sonic||700MHz||1750MHz||1.0GHz||Tomb Raider Anniversary|
|XFX GeForce 9600 GT XXX||740MHz||1850MHz||1.0GHz||Varies (Call of Duty 4, Company of Heroes)|
|Zogis GeForce 9600 GT||650MHz||1625MHz||900MHz||None|
As always with these roundups, we’re going in alphabetical order. First up is ASUS.