Geforce 9600GT 512 Mb
Last month the first in the new NVIDEA 9000 series was launched. The GeForce 9600GT 512 Mb is the first of this new line that saw the light.
This new line of has to replace the whole NVIDIA assortment before summer. It's six moths ago that we had our first view of the 8000 series, so things are moving quickly at this company
We tested the first sibling in this new range of graphics cards the 9600GT. In itself the fact the NVIDIA made the debut with the 9600GT model is unique. Mostly the high end super gaming monsters are the first to see the light. This is a middle class model but has is build around the new G94 GPU, and will be one of the few cards featuring this chip. Both the 9800GT and 9800GTX will be based on the G92 GPU.
The overall design is no revolution. Improvements in performance are great, and the price/quality ratio has gone up. But from a technical point of view there is not much new under the sun.
Both the G94 and G92 GPU's don't support DirectX 10.1 like their competitor Ati Radion with the 3000 series. If this lack of support is a great drawback remains to be seen. Their are no games supporting 10.1 and since the shelf life of a graphics card in the gaming sector is less than 6 months we need not be overcritical at this point.
Both GPU's support PCI 2.0 and Pure Video 2 ( we had already seen this in the G84 and G86). But the new cards are cheaper, faster and have a better energy efficiency.
Although the 9000 series is not the most innovative, fact remains that they are interesting cards. If we compare the new GT9600 with the GT8600 (based on the G84 GPU).
The 9600 stands out with an 256 bits memory bus, while the 8600 had to work with half that amount, 128 bits. That this increase has pronounced effect on the performance stands to reason.
Where the GeForce 8600 had a maximum bandwidth of 32GB/sec the 9600 is capable of 57.6 GB/sec. Further the number of shader processors is doubled compared to the GPU84.
The clock of the 64 unified shaders increased from 1450 Mhz, to 1625 Mhz. The conclusion of this move is that Nvidea now has found a healthy balans between GPU power and memory bandwidth.
The 9600GT has two Dual-Link DVI connections, both HDCP capable. Dell is the only manufacturer that has a display capable of utilizing that possibility with their 24 Inch 2408WP and 30 Inch 3008WFP. Other companies promised to come with compatible models later this year.
Decoding HD imagery is no problem, so blue ray enthusiasts can rest assured. The GT9600 can be placed in double SLI. and beats its competitor the HD 3870 from Ati Radeon on all fronts. Tripple SLI is not possible but we have the feeling that not many of the potential buyers of this card will be interested in such a feature.
A comparison table for different games and resolutions can be found on our site. A strange phenomenon is that the overall energy consumption of the HD3870 X2 is higher with less performance.
To wrap it up, we think that a complete new line in 6 months time is a bit overdoing it, but that NVIDIA did a good job with the Geforce 9600GT 512 Mb. The great never seen before price/performance ratio is the and the consistent beating of the 3870 from Ati makes this card a great choice for the demanding but not overly fanatic gamer.
As soon as we can lay our hands on the 9800 models with will very happy to give them a good spin and find out what their extremes are. With our strange inclination we love to put new cards on the torture table.