by Rob Williams on April 7, 2008 in Graphics & Displays
If on the lookout for a good GPU at a great price, it’s easier than ever. NVIDIA’s 9600 GT packs a punch and retails for well under $200. We are taking Gigabyte’s stock-clocked solution for a spin to see how it stacks up against our other models. And yes, it overclocks like a beast.
Each graph for our benchmarking results are labeled with the resolution that the game was played at, while omitting secondary settings such as Anti-Aliasing, Anisotropic Filtering, texture quality, et cetera. To view all specific settings that we used, please refer to our testing methodology page, where we have screenshots for each game.
Half-Life 2: Episode Two
If there is one game in our line-up that most everyone has played at some point, it would be Half-Life 2. The most recent release is Episode Two, a game that took far too long to see the light of day. But despite that, it proved to be worth the wait as it delivered more of what fans loved.
We are using the Silo level for our testing, which is a level most people who haven’t even played the game know about, thanks to Valves inclusion of it in their Episode Two trailers during the year before its release. During our gameplay, we shoot down a total of three Striders (their locations are identical with each run, since we are running a saved game file) and a barn is blown to smithereens.
Overall it’s a great level, but the Strider’s minions can prove a pain in the rear at times – most notably when they headbutt you. Nothing a little flying log won’t solve, however! This levels graphics consist mostly of open fields and trees, although there is a few explosions in the process as well, such as when you blow the Striders apart with the help of the Magnusson Device.
Settings: High graphic settings are used throughout all three resolutions, with 4x AA and 8xAF.
While Crysis and Call of Duty 4 play well with relatively low average FPS, Half-Life 2 doesn’t work quite the same. Although the average 44FPS at 2560×1600 seems amazing, the actual gameplay was less than stellar. However, at 1920×1200, the game ran smooth as silk.
Call of Juarez
Western FPS games are not common, so when one hits, people notice. Luckily for FPS fans, Call of Juarez delivered great graphics, solid gameplay and a very high difficulty. It’s a great game to benchmark due to its ability to run in DX10 mode, under Windows Vista. This mode is far more demanding than the DX9 mode, but the results are better.
We take the role of Billy Candle in the level we chose, which is rather simple in concept. We begin out at the end of a linear path that we must follow in order to reach a ravine that we must cross.
The goal of the level is to sneak through a farm and ride off with a horse in order to make the jump, but since that process takes far too long, our run through consists of following the exact same path each time, which ends up on the opposite side of the farm near an edge with water below.
Settings: Very high graphic settings are used here, although AA is never used. The fact that the game uses DX10 is enough to drag performance down.
Call of Juarez is one heck of a demanding game, especially in DX10 mode. I didn’t find the game that playable on any setting except for 1680×1050. Bear in mind two facts, however. The game will run a -lot- smoother with DX9 mode, but doesn’t look as sharp. The other fact is that we choose to run with high texture settings, so lowering those would make it more playable at a given resolution.