iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






NVIDIA GeForce 9600 GT

On the example of:
BFG GeForce 9600 GT OC 512MB PCI-E
ECS GeForce 9600 GT Accelero Edition 512MB PCI-E
Forsa GeForce 9600 GT 512MB PCI-E
Galaxy GeForce 9600 GT Overclocked 512MB PCI-E
Point Of View GeForce 9600 GT 512MB PCI-E
Zotac GeForce 9600 GT AMP! Edition 512MB PCI-E

Part 2: Graphics cards and synthetic benchmarks

Testbed configuration:

  • Intel Core2 (775 Socket) based machine:
    • Intel Core2 Extreme QX9650 (3000 MHz);
    • Gigabyte GA-X38-DQ6 on Intel X38;
    • 2GB DDR2 SDRAM Corsair 1142MHz (CAS (tCL)=5; RAS to CAS delay (tRCD)=5; Row Precharge (tRP)=5; tRAS=15);
    • WD Caviar SE WD1600JD 160GB SATA;
    • Tagan 1100-U95 (1100W).
  • Windows XP SP2; DirectX 9.0c;
  • Windows Vista 32bit; DirectX 10.0;
  • Dell 3007WFP (30") monitor;
  • ATI CATALYST 8.1; NVIDIA 169.28/174.12;
  • VSync off.


We used the following benchmarks:

  • Call Of Juarez (Techland/Ubisoft) — DirectX 9.0, shaders 3.0 (HDR), demo (demo. Tests were run with maximum quality settings. The batch file is included.

  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 1.003 (GSC Game World/THQ) — DirectX 9.0, demo. You should unpack the files into the game folder with savegames (Documents and settings). When the game starts up, load ixbt3, open the console, and start the demo: demo_play ixbt3. Test settings — maximum (DYNAMIC LIGHTS are ENABLED).

  • 3DMark05 1.20 (FutureMark) — DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, trilinear filtering.

  • CRYSIS 1.1 (Crytek/EA), DirectX 9.0c/10.0, shaders 3.0/4.0, (batch file to start the test), test settings in MS Windows Vista - Very High (DX10), Windows XP - High (DX9), RESCUE and HARBOR levels). You can e-mail us to get the timedemo.

    We express our gratitude to CRYTEK for writing a timedemo for iXBT.com / Digit-Life.com.

  • Company Of Heroes (Relic Entertainment/THQ) — DirectX 9.0, shaders 2.0, startup batch file. When you start the game, you should go to options, choose the graphics section, and press the test button. Tests were run with maximum quality.

  • 3DMark06 1.10 (FutureMark) — DirectX 9.0c, multitexturing, trilinear test settings.

Graphics card performance

If you are familiar with 3D graphics, you will understand our charts and draw your own conclusions. However, if you are interested in our comments on test results, you may read them after each test. Anything that is important to beginners and those who are new to the world of video cards will be explained in detail in the comments.

You may also want to look through our reference materials on modern graphics cards and GPUs. Be sure to note the operating frequencies, support for modern technologies (shaders), as well as the pipeline architecture.

ATI RADEON X1300-1600-1800-1900 Reference
NVIDIA GeForce 7300-7600-7800-7900-8800 Reference

If you have just begun to realize how large the selection of video cards is, don't worry, our 3D Graphics section offers articles about the basics of 3D graphics as well as product reviews. We also publish monthly i3DSpeed articles that sums up all comparisons of graphics cards for various price ranges.

Thirdly, have a look at the test results of our today's cards. We are not going to analyze each test in this article, primarily because for us it makes sense to draw a bottom line in the end of the article. We will, however, make sure that you are aware of any special circumstances or extraordinary results.

You can download test results in the EXCEL format: RAR or ZIP.

Please note that the tables compare only two GeForce 9600 GT cards with the maximum difference in operating frequencies (the slowest operating at the reference frequencies and the fastest 9600 GT from Zotac). Results of the other graphics cards fall within this range and are published in the charts (click test results for more information).



CRYSIS, Rescue, DX9, High


CRYSIS, Harbor, DX9, High


CRYSIS, Rescue, DX10, Very High

FPS CHARTS: CRYSIS, Rescue, DX10, Very High

CRYSIS, Harbor, DX10, Very High

FPS CHARTS: CRYSIS, Harbor, DX10, Very High

Call Of Juarez


Company Of Heroes


3DMark05: MARKS


3DMark06: SHADER 2.0 MARKS


3DMark06: SHADER 3.0 MARKS



Well, what can we say? The RADEON HD 3850 and even the 3870 cards are defeated. The latter card was designed to compete with the 8800 GT, can you believe it? AMD will have to bring down prices, to synchronize them with performance of their cards. Unfortunately, AMD has recently launched many new cards in the Mid-End and Budget segments, doing little in higher segments. We have plenty of RADEON 2600 cards, new 36xx cards, even the 3850 cards. However, the 3870 cards cannot compete in the $200-$250 segment, and the 3870 X2 is apparently too expensive.

That's the second time (after the 8800 GT) when we are pleasantly surprised at how good a product is for its price segment! Prices for these cards will be initially raised too high, of course. The 9600 GT will certainly cost like the RADEON 3870 or it will be a tad cheaper. However, the target segment of the 9600GT is below 200 USD (170-180). So the prices may come down by summer.

There is a huge performance gap between the 9600 GT and the 8600 GTS, our tests show it. But the price gap won't be too large. Apparently, the 9600 GT will be followed by the 9500 or 9600GS series — intermediate modifications for 130-140 USD. The 8600 GTS will be pushed down to $100.

Besides, you should pay attention to the abundance of overclocked 9600 GT cards. I think that each vendor will offer several modifications. So their performance level will be closer to the GeForce 8800 GT! Moreover, have a look at the charts. The 8800 GT was even outperformed by the fastest 9600 GT cards in a number of cases.

NVIDIA has brought heavy artillery, launching a graphics card with a 256-bit interface and a powerful core in the $170 segment.

Now let's say a few words about each card.

BFG GeForce 9600 GT OC 512MB PCI-E is a reference card (manufactured by NVIDIA's orders, BFG just buys these cards) with slightly increased frequencies. The company gives a 10-year warranty for its products (it replies to messages of private users and can replace a defective product - you can read the details on the vendor's web site). Unfortunately, it's not that easy to find BFG products in our stores so far.

ECS GeForce 9600 GT Accelero Edition 512MB PCI-E is manufactured by ECS. Besides, it's equipped with a unique cooling system. It's the best card among today's contenders, except for its frequencies. Unfortunately, these cards are extremely rare. Let's hope they will be imported in larger volumes.

Forsa GeForce 9600 GT 512MB PCI-E is also a reference card (it's manufactured by NVIDIA's orders at third-party plants). I have nothing to add. Just compare the prices and choose a card. If the price is adequate, it will be a good choice, even though the only authentic Forsa here is the box.

Galaxy GeForce 9600 GT Overclocked 512MB PCI-E is manufactured by own strength, it's also equipped with a unique cooler. Last time we had a lot of gripes with this device, but this modification has all its problems fixed. The cooler has become noiseless and very efficient. Yep, the card takes up two slots now, but it's not a problem anymore. Besides, it operates at increased frequencies.

Point Of View GeForce 9600 GT 512MB PCI-E is a reference card (the card is bought from NVIDIA), so I have nothing to add. You should compare prices, because it has a standard bundle. However, graphics cards from this vendor are not very often available in stores.

Zotac GeForce 9600 GT AMP! Edition 512MB PCI-E is also a reference card. They are manufactured at PC Partner plants - Zotac's parent company. But this is a very interesting product — it operates at very high frequencies, so it can even catch up and outperform the 8800 GT in a number of tests.

On the whole, the 9600 GT is a very good product! If prices for this product are adequate and come close to recommended 169-179 USD, it will be definitely a success.

As always, the final choice is up to the reader. We can only inform you about products and their performance, but can't make a buying decision. In our opinion, that should solely be in the hands of the reader, and possibly their budget. ;)

And another thing that we are not tired to repeat from article to article. Having decided to choose a graphics card by yourself, you have to realize you're to change one of the fundamental PC parts, which might require additional tuning to improve performance or enable some qualitative features. This is not a finished product, but a component part. So, you must understand that in order to get the most from a new graphics card, you will have to acquire some basic knowledge of 3D graphics and graphics in general. If you are not ready for this, you should not perform upgrades by yourself. In this case it would be better to purchase a ready chassis with preset software (along with vendor's technical support,) or a gaming console that doesn't require any adjustments.

To find more information regarding the current graphics card market and the performance of various cards, feel free to read our monthly special i3DSpeed.

ECS GeForce 9600 GT Accelero Edition 512MB and Galaxy GeForce 9600 GT Overclocked 512MB cards get our Original Design award:

We express our gratitude to:
BFG Russia and Mikhail Proshletsov,
ECS/Elitegroup Russia and Yuri Li,
Galaxy and Igor Flipek,
Point Of View and Angelo Boscheri,
Zotac and Robert Wislowski
for the provided graphics cards.

PSU was kindly provided by TAGAN,
Dell 3007WFP monitor was kindly provided by NVIDIA.

Andrey Vorobiev (anvakams@ixbt.com)
February 22, 2008

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