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.
In testing power consumption for our graphic cards, the system components are kept consistent to help keep accurate results. To capture wattage, a Kill-a-Watt is used. It is plugged straight into the wall and the PSU is plugged in directly to it. After the computer is booted into Windows and is left idle for five minutes, the idle wattage is captured.
To capture the average, a run of 3DMark 2006 is run while keeping an eye on the voltage for the first two minutes. I record the value that the Kill-a-Watt reported the majority of the time. Sometimes the wattage might go higher, but scale right back down, and vice versa.
As technology progresses, GPU/CPU processes grow smaller and power efficiency increases. Although the 9600 GT is close to being on par with a 8800 GT, its power draw is much less… 45W less, to be exact. The humorous thing is that it requires only a bit more power than the 8600 GT, but is twice as fast.
I might be sick, but I tend to get more excited by budget offerings of any sort, whether they be CPUs or GPUs, because it’s fun to see just how close their performance can match a high-end product that normally retails for much, much more. In the case of the 9600 GT, I find it hard to not get excited. Most models retail for well under $200, yet perform exceptionally well.
Gigabyte’s card specifically retails for a bit more than the rest, as is common of import items, so while certain names retail for around $150 – $160, Gigabyte’s card is found between $165 – $175. By comparison, eVGA’s 9600 GT retails for an average of $150, beating Gigabyte’s card by $25. But, as of right now, NewEgg is offering the card with a MIR that brings Gigabyte’s offering down to the same price.
It’s customary of most GPU manufacturers is to release higher-clocked models (pre-overclocked) and then ask a premium price. But as we have found out throughout both of our 9600 GT reviews… the card itself is overclocking-friendly. These companies are not stumbling on a great batch of chips… they all overclock well. So save some money and pick up a stock-clocked offering and overclock it. Your wallet will thank you.
I am awarding Gigabyte’s 9600 GT and Editor’s Choice award. Gigabyte does a great job with most of their products, and this one is no different. The card is well-presented, and wrapped in packaging that actually looks sharp. I could see geeks keeping the box out for the world to see, just because it’s interesting to look at.
Gigabyte’s card is no different overclocking wise, either. Though we couldn’t reach the same high overclock of the ASUS 9600 GT (which is unverified because we didn’t put that card through intensive testing like this one), we did manage to overclock it enough so that it could outperform an 8800 GT in some cases, as seen on the previous page. This is a great card, no way around it.
- Fantastic performance, which leads to a great value
- Overclocking-ability is superb… we almost matched an 8800 GT!
- Gigabyte does packaging and presentation right
- Quiet running, fan noise is not too noticeable compared to system fans
- Gigabyte’s card is a bit more expensive than NA competition
- Having an HDMI adapter included would have sweetened the deal
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