There’s never been a better time to be in the market for a new videocard. Nvidia’s GeForce 9600 GT, represented here by EVGA’s overclocked SSC Edition, is one reason this is true.
We awarded AMD’s Radeon 3870 a Kick Ass award in our January 2008 issue when it was selling for $260. When the 9600 GT hit the market, the average street price for cards based on the 3870 plunged to $206. EVGA’s implementation of the 9600 GT was selling for $215 when we benchmarked it, but the average price for cards based on that part was just $182.
The 9600 GT is based on Nvidia’s G94 GPU, a cut-down derivative of the G92 that forms the more powerful 8800 GT and the even faster 8800 GTS (the version with 512MB of memory, not the ones with 640MB and 320MB frame buffers). By “cut down,” we mean all three chips share the same basic architecture, but the 9600 GT has 64 stream processors compared to 112 procs in the 8800 GT and 128 in the 8800 GTS.
EVGA upped the core clock to 740MHz (from a stock 650MHz) and the 512MB of memory to 975MHz (from a stock 900MHz). Nvidia’s ace in the hole is its ability to run the stream processors at a higher clock rate than the core, which helps explain how the 64 processors in the 9600 GT can outrun the 320 stream processors in AMD’s Radeon HD 3870. EVGA bumped them from a stock 1.625GHz to 1.835GHz.
If your interests lie more in film than gaming, you’ll be pleased to know that the 9600 GT has the PureVideo HD circuitry that allows it to offload from the host CPU all the decoding work needed to play high-definition movies on Blu-ray and soon-to-be-obscure HD DVD discs.
Best value for the price point; PureVideo enables HD playback.
Not as fast as the 8800GT or the new 8800GTS. But hey, for the price, we're not complaining.
Windows Vista (DirectX 10)
EVGA GeForce 9600 GT
HIS Radeon HD 3870
3DMark06 Game 1 (FPS)
3DMark06 Game 2 (FPS)
Crysis (DX10) (FPS)
Unreal Tournament 3 (FPS)
Best single-GPU score bolded. AMD-based cards tested with an Intel D975BX2 motherboard; Nvidia-based cards tested with an EVGA 680i SLI motherboard. Intel 2.93GHz Core 2 Extreme X6800 CPUs and 2GB of Corsair DDR RAM used in both scenarios. Benchmarks performed at 1920x1200 resolution (Crysis tested at 1280x720) on ViewSonic VP2330wb monitors.