Nvidia GeForce 9600GT 512MB Video Card

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Product(s): Nvidia GeForce 9600
Provided By: Memory Express

Price:
Estimated MSRP ~169.99 USD

 

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Introduction:

A while back we were able to take a look at the new GeForce 8800GT (Reviewed Here) and we compared it up against the GeForce 8600GTS. Today we are going to look at a video card that looks like it might be the new replacement for the 8600GTS line from Nvidia, the GeForce 9600GT.

With the 8800GT selling very well in retail outlets, it's not surprising that Nvidia is bringing out another card to battle it out for the budget market, and from the looks of the 9600GT, it appears that the not-so-popular-anymore 8600GTS is going to be phased out over time.

 

First Impressions: 

The looks of our card are pretty much identical to the 8800GT that we took a look at a while back, as they are both reference samples, so chances are good that the card you buy at your retail store isn't going to look much like it, but for you curious types out there, here is what the 9600GT looks like.

 

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Geforce 9600GT - Side View
inputs.jpg
Nvidia Geforce 9600GT - Inputs
back.jpg
Nvidia Geforce 9600GT - Back View

 

Well the looks of the card aren't very exciting, but now we will move onto some of the key data that is going to determine where this card fits into the Nvidia family.

 

  GeForce 8800GT GeForce 8600GTS GeForce 9600GT
Memory 512MB GDDR3 256MB GDDR3 512MB GDDR3
Memory Bandwidth 57.6 GB/s 32 GB/s 57.6 GB/s
Stream Processors
112 32 64
Shader Clock Speed 1500 MHz 1450 MHz 1625 MHz
Memory Interface 256-bit 128-bit 256-bit
Fabrication Process 65 nm 80 nm 65 nm


So before we go any further, let's take a look at the chart above, and from the information in it we can pretty much guess where the 9600GT is going to fit performance-wise into the Nvidia family. The Shader clock has been bumped up for the 9600GT, and the memory bandwidth is the same as the 8800GT, but the big bottleneck of the whole setup is going to be the stream processors (pixel shader engines). The 9600GT has 64, which is double what the 8600GTS has (32), but still only half as many as the 8800GT (128). This card should perform somewhere right in the middle of the 8600 and the 8800 series, and could make it a very attractive card for a budget consumer who doesn't want to drop a whole bunch of money on a video card, but still wants to play the latest and greatest games. Let's move onto the testing to see how well this card actually performs, and if our assumptions were correct.



 

More Specifications will be added once final features list is released from Nvidia.

 

nVidia 9600GT Specifications:

  • Core Clock: 650MHz
  • Shader Clock: 1625MHz
  • Memory Clock:1800MHz
  • Memory Type: GDDR3
  • Memory interface: 256Bit
  • Memory capacity: 512MB
  • Stream Processor Unit / Unified shader number: 64
  • Standard Shader Model: 4.0
  • Standard DirectX Version: 10
  • Video playback technology: PureVideo HD II/VP2
  • Interface: PCIe 2.0
  • Memory Bandwidth: 57.60 GB/s
  • Architecture: G94
  • Fabrication Process: 65 nm

 

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9600GT
9600GT


 

EVGA e-GeForce 8600GTS 256MB Specifications: 

Features

  • NVIDIA® SLI™ Technology
  • Next-Generation Superscalar GPU Architecture
  • nView Multi-Display Technology
  • High-Speed GDDR3 Memory Interface
  • NVIDIA® PureVideo™ Technology
  • OpenGL 2.0 Optimizations and Support
  • NVIDIA UltraShadow II Technology
  • Dual Dual-Link TMDS Connector
  • NVIDIA® unified architecture with GigaThread™ technology
  • Full Microsoft® DirectX® 10 Shader Model 4.0 support
  • 16x full-screen anti-aliasing
  • True 128-bit floating point high dynamic-range (HDR)
  • NVIDIA Quantum Effects™ physics processing technology
  • Built for Microsoft® Windows Vista™


Specifications

  • Chipset: Nvidia Geforce 8600 GTS
  • Core Clock: 675MHz
  • Shader Clock: 1450MHz
  • Stream Processors: 32
  • Vertex Units: N/A
  • Memory: 256MB 128-bit DDR3
  • Memory Clock: 2000MHz
  • Memory Bandwidth: 32GB/sec
  • Fill Rate: N/A
  • Interface: PCI-Express x16

Resolution & Refresh
  • Max Refresh Rate: 240Hz
  • Max VGA Resolution: 2048 x 1536 @ 85Hz, 32-bit color
  • Max DVI-I Resolution (Dual-Link): 2560 x 1600 @ 60Hz, 32-bit color
  • Max HDTV Out (Component) Resolution: 1920 x 1080 (1080i)
  • Max TV Out (S-Video) Resolution: 1024 x 768

Connectors:
  • DVI: Dual DVI-I
  • - Dual Dual Link TMDS DVI Connector
  • VGA: Yes, with Adapter
  • Video-Out: S-Video, HDTV
  • Video-In: N/A

 


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GeForce 8800GT 512MB Specifications : 

Features

  • 8800 Series single slot solution*
  • PCI Express® 2.0 support*
  • Increased to 112 Stream Processors
  • NVIDIA® Unified architecture with GigaThread™ technology
  • Full Microsoft® DirectX® 10 Shader Model 4.0 support.
  • NVIDIA SLI™-Ready
  • 16x full-screen anti-aliasing
  • True 128-bit floating point high dynamic-range(HDR) lighting
  • NVIDIA Quantum Effects™ physics processing technology
  • Two dual-link DVI outputs support two 2560x1600 resolution displays
  • NVIDIA PureVideo™technology®
  • OpenGL® 2.0 support
  • Nvidia ForceWare® Unified Driver Architecture (UDA)
  • Built for Microsoft® Windows Vista™

 

System Requirements

  • Minimum of a 400 Watt power supply. (Minimum recommended power supply with +12 Volt current rating of 22 Amp Amps.)
  • Minimum 450 Watt for SLI mode system. (Minimum recommended power supply with +12 Volt current rating of 24 Amp Amps.)
  • An available 6 pin PCI-E power connector


Specifications

Chipset Nvidia Geforce 8800 GT
Engine clock 600MHz
Memory 512MB GDDR3
Memory clock 1800MHz (900MHz DDR)
Memory interface 256-bit
Memory Bandwidth 57.6 GB/s
Shader clock 1500MHz
Stream Processors 112
Fillrate N/A
Bus Interface PCI Express x16
SLI Capable Yes
   
Resolution & Refresh Rate Max Refresh Rate: 240Hz
Max VGA Resolution: 2048 x 1600 @ 85Hz, 32-bit color
Max DVI-I Resolution (Dual-Link): 2560 x 1600 @ 60Hz, 32-bit color
   
Connectors  
VGA Yes, With VGA-to-DVI Adapter
DVI Dual DVI-I (2 x Dual Link)
Video Out S-Video, Composite, HDTV(YPrPB) Component
HDCP Support Yes
Video In N/A

 


 

 

Testing:

I will split my testing into two sections: Synthetic testing and Gaming Testing. For synthetic testing I will be using PCMark Vantage and PCMark06. For the gaming portion I will be testing using Call of Duty 4 Demo, Timeshift Demo, and Call of Juarez. All 3 of these games are DirectX 10 games.

All of our Gaming benchmarks are actual gameplay numbers, and not a benchmarking tool, we take the averages using Fraps so that we can more accurately show how a video card handles games. Some benchmarking tools can be configured or optimized to give higher scores, but using actual numbers from gameplay will be able to more accurately rate performance.

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Test System:

 

3DMark 2006 Benchmarks:

 

3dmark06.jpg

 

Well the 9600GT actually performed a bit better than I was expecting, I was expecting for it to be pretty much in the middle of the 8800GT and 8600GTS, but in all the tests it was approximately 10% slower than the 8800GT, which should make it perform quite decent in gaming tests.


 

PCMark Vantage Benchmarks:

 

vantage.jpg


Vantage isn't the greatest test when comparing video cards, but I wanted to include it anyways. Vantage measures overall system performance, and therefore adding a new video card isn't going to affect the scores in the same way as it would in 3DMark or gaming tests, but as you can see in the graph the results were pretty similar to what we saw in 3DMark06.

Let's move onto the ingame testing on the next page...


 

 

Gaming Testing:

The gaming testing is really the section most people are going to be interested in for the 9600GT, as this card is aimed at the gaming market and not many people are going to want it for a workstation card. Let's see how it stacks up against the other cards... From what we saw in the Synthetic tests we can take a wild guess at how these cards stack up against each other.

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Call of Juarez Demo

Gameplay Settings:

Resolution: 1280x1024
Max Refresh Rate: 60Hz
Shader Model: 3.0
Antialiasing: Off
Texture Filtering: Bilinear
Shadows: Low
Shadow Map Size: 1024
Depth of Field: On
Material Quality: Medium
Texture Quality: Low
Foliage Quality: Log
 

coj.jpg

 

The 9600GT was able to keep up an average of 51 FPS during our testing, which is very decent, especially at 1280 x 1024. The 8600GTS wasn't able to keep smooth gameplay, and in some parts became very choppy. The 8800GT had no problems and was able to almost break an average of 60FPS.


Call of Duty 4 Demo

Gameplay Settings:

Resolution: 1280x1024
Refresh Rate: 60HZ
Antialiasing: Off
Shadows: On
Specular Map: On
Number of Dynamic Lights: Normal
Soften Smoke Edges: No
Model Detail: Normal
Water Detail: Normal
Texture Filtering: Bilinear
Texture Resolution: Normal
Normal Map Resolution: Normal
Specular Map Resolution: Normal

cod4.jpg

 

All 3 cards were able to run COD4 at 1280x1024, but the 9600GT and 8800GT both ran it flawless without being choppy, the 8600GT struggled a little, and with a couple minor adjustments to gameplay settings the 8600GTS had no problems running smoothly. But most casual gamers won't mind spending a few extra bucks to jump up the 9600GT so they are able to play with a bit of the eye-candy turned on.

 

Timeshift Demo

Gameplay Settings:

Resolution: 1280x1024 32bpp
Material Quality: Medium
Texture Resolution: Medium
Anisotropic Filtering: 2x
VSync: Off
Projected Shadows: None
Smooth Shadows: Off
Shadow Map Quality: Medium
Shadow Map Resolution: Medium
Dynamic Lights: On
Decals: Medium
Distortion Effects: On
HDR Quality: Medium
Parallax Mapping: Off
Parallax Shadows: Off
Grass and Debris: On

timeshift.jpg

 

Once again the results of this test were pretty much the same as the previous two, but I found it interesting to see how big of a gap there was between the 9600GT and 8600GTS. In average FPS the 9600GT doubled the scores of the 8800GTS, and made the game very smooth to play. The 8600GTS really struggled with Timeshift and managed only 34 FPS which isn't a whole lot of fun to play with as it was quite often choppy during big fights or quick movement.

 


 

 

Final Conclusion:

The 8800GT is a great card, and has been selling like crazy lately. But the 8800GT is still in the ~$250.00 USD range, which makes it tough to justify for the casual gamer. That's where the 9600GT comes in, with a rumored MSRP of ~$169.00 USD, it will be a bit cheaper, and therefore a bit easier to justify for the casual gamer who still wants to play the latest DX10 games. The 8600GTS is rumored to be dropping into the ~$140.00 USD range, but for the extra $20.00, it will be a very easy decision to make the jump up the 9600GT.

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The performance of the 9600GT was very decent, and was a bit more than what I expected, I was expecting for it to be pretty much right in the middle of the 8600GTS and the 8800GT performance-wise, but in most tests it came in much closer to the 8800GT than the 8600GTS. In lower resolution tests I found the 9600GT to come pretty close to the 8800GT, but once we started cranking up the resolutions a bit, the 8800GT pulled ahead, but for the gamer who wants to play at 1600x1200 and above, you are still going to have to shell out a few more bucks for the 8800GT or 8800GTX, but for the gamer who wants to run things at 1280x1024, the 9600GT is going to be right up your alley.

The Gaming performance of the 9600GT was very decent, and I had no problems in any of the 3 games I testing running at 1280x1024 with a bit of eye-candy turned on, while the 8800GT still was able to outperform the 9600GT, it wasn't by a whole lot. The 9600GT did outperform the 8600GTS significantly, and in most of the tests we ran the 8600GTS would get a little choppy during big scenes, while the 9600GT didn't have much problem at all.

Does the 9600GT make ATI nervous? Nope, the performance of the 9600GT is right about the same as the ATI HD 3850, and the prices are pretty much identical, therefore it's just going to make it tougher for consumers to decide between the two, when going to the store you might want to bring along a coin to flip so decide between the two. We are going to take a look at some ATI video cards in the coming couple weeks and will compare them up against the 9600GT directly to see how they compare, so check back later for that review. The 9600GT might not be the greatest card on the market, but it's a definite improvement over the 8600GTS, and Nvidia fans will appreciate that.

At the end of the day I am quite happy with the 9600GT, and I think for the estimated MSRP of $169.00 USD it's going to be a great option for the casual gamer.

 

If you have any questions, comments, or general feedback, please leave it at the "Comments" link below.