As with the GeForce 8800 GT, the GeForce 9600 GT is a single-slot solution that employs a metal faceplate enclosure to assist in cooling the GPU and memory. With the graphics card installed in a closed case, the temperature of the GPU at idle ranged from 53 °C to 56 °C as the room temperature varied from 21.1 °C / 70 °F to 23.8 °C / 75 °F. At idle, the fan speed was set at 54%. An RPM reading was not available.
With the Real-Time High Dynamic Range Image Based Lighting (rthdribl) demo running in an 800x600 window, the GPU reached a peak temperature of 70 °C at both room temperatures. Fan speed was recorded at 80%, which was quiet in a single GPU configuration. In SLI, the fan noise level increases and is noticeable, but is not especially loud or overbearing. Note that the fan control can be set manually if the noise level should become an issue.
SLI (DUAL GPU) PERFORFORMANCE
Inno3D sent us their GeForce 9600 GT Overclocked, which arrived on the evening before the launch date. We will be taking a look at the Inno3D graphics card in an upcoming review. At this point, I took the opportunity to combine both graphics cards in a mixed-vendor SLI configuration as shown in the photograph below.
Mixed-Vendor SLI - EVGA and Inno3D
I then re-ran all benchmarks where the minimum frame rate was less than 30 fps on a single graphics card. For simplicity, let's assume that since the minimum fell below 30, the game and setting would be "unplayable" on a single GeForce 9600 GT.
With SLI, there were 2 results (marked in red) from a total of 13 where the minimum frame rate remained less than 30 fps. Both occurrences were in Crysis at high quality settings.
SLI Scaling - Single vs SLI and % Increase
On the flip side, the minimum frame rate more than doubled with SLI on a couple of occasions. The minimum frame rate in F.E.A.R. at 2560x1600 with soft shadows and BioShock at 1920x1200 increased 114% as a result of SLI. Overall, SLI provided a 60% increase in the average frame rate and a 71% increase in the minimum frame rate.
As an update to the original review, results against a single GeForce 8800 GTX and GeForce 8800 Ultra are provided below.
GeForce 9600 GT vs. 8800 GTX vs. 8800 Ultra
Using the most intense games and settings from the review, a single 8800 GTX failed to reach a minimum of 30 fps in six of the tests vs. two on the 9600 GT in SLI.
HD VIDEO PLAYBACK
The following is an update to the original review and shows the results that were obtained while playing back NVDIA's 1080p HD Demo. The average CPU utilization during playback was 8.5% with a peak of 12.6%.
CPU Utilization - 1080p Playback
nStant Media was used to playback test video content, which consisted of the NVIDIA SD vs. 1080p HD demo, 720p footage from Burnout running on the Xbox 360 and Step Into Liquid.
The NVIDIA demo clip is interesting to watch as it provides side-by-side comparisons of a standard definition and a high definition content. The video can be downloaded at nZone.
NVIDIA SD vs. HD Demo - 1080p
A couple of other side-by-side shots - waterfall and mountains. A captured frame from Burnout is show below.
Burnout Playback - 720p
The results in minimizing CPU utilization during HD video playback were very encouraging:
NVIDIA HD Demo: 1920x1080 - 10,205k bps bit rate - Avg 8%, Max: 13%
Step Into Liquid: 1440x1080 - 8,442 kbps bit rate - Avg 7%, Max 16%
Burnout: 1280x720 - 12,282 kbps bit rate - Avg 9%, Max 19%
The GeForce 9600 GT builds upon a successful architecture and comes close to the performance of the GeForce 8800 GT in many cases at a lower price. SLI also proves to be benefical although a follow-up against a single GeForce 8800 GTX, which is also around $400 is warranted and forthcoming (completed).
The EVGA e-GeForce 9600 GT SSC performed flawlessly during the course of this review and is recommended by nV News. The folks at EVGA are eager to assist and dedicated to customer service and support. Click the link to meet some of them.
Please use the following feedback thread for comments or questions about this review.