Gigabyte GeForce 9600GT 512MB (GV-NX96T512HP)
Passive cooling that packs a bite
- Factory overclocked for premium performance, effective passive cooling, 2D/3D clock separation, sound-free operation
- Some DX10-enabled games struggled at higher settings
The Gigabyte GeForce 9600GT 512MB (GV-NX96T512HP) is one of the best passively cooled graphics cards we've seen, offering plenty of tweaks over the 9600GT reference board. Its performance in our benchmarks easily matched the majority of its fan-equipped competitors, ensuring you don't need to compromise on power.
Price$ 239.00 (AUD)
The Gigabyte GeForce 9600GT 512MB (GV-NX96T512HP) is a noise-free graphics card equipped with one of NVIDIA's 9 series GPUs (graphics processing unit). With options for 2D/3D clock separation and a quartet of passive coolers, this model has been designed with power-efficiency in mind. While fans of maxed-out settings may not get the results they require from the latest DirectX 10-enabled games, most users will be sufficiently pleased with the card's overall performance. As far as mid-range offerings go, it will definitely deliver the goods.
This graphics card is passively cooled, which is perhaps its most intriguing drawcard. The top-mounted cooler is equipped with four heat pipes that have been split into separate pairs to optimise cooling. An arrangement of copper-equipped, aluminium fins dominate both sides of the cooler. The board also utilises natural convection within the chassis to disperse heat. During our gaming benchmarks, the GPU's temperature hovered around the 85-degree mark, which is slightly higher than a graphics card with active cooling. However, it's worth noting that the (GV-NX96T512HP) is a factory overclocked model, which naturally affects heating.
A neat touch introduced by Gigabyte for this card is the inclusion of separate 2D and 3D clock speeds. This allows the card to reduce its power consumption during 2D applications, such as word processing or e-mails. Naturally, the benefit will be diminished for users with Vista machines, due to Aero's flashy interface. Nevertheless, it remains a good feature.
As with every other card in the GeForce 9600GT series, the (GV-NX96T512HP) is built around NVIDIA's latest G94 GPU core. Very little has changed from the previous G92 chip (found on cards like the GeForce 8800 GT), with both processing units possessing the same basic architecture. Probably the most notable change is in the number of stream processors, which has dropped from 128 to just 64. While this may seem like a step backwards, it falls roughly in line with the 9600GT series' lower price point.
Being a factory overclocked edition, the (GV-NX96T512HP) has been extensively customised via Gigabyte's Turbo Force technology. Its core clock speed has been stepped up from 650MHz to 720MHz, while the memory clock speed now sits at 1008MHz (2016MHz effective). With its 256-bit bus, this works out to a maximum theoretical memory bandwidth of 64.5GBps. Its shader clock has also received a substantial boost, up from 1625MHz to 1800MHz. As you would expect, these performance-boosting tweaks had a positive effect on our gaming benchmarks when compared to the vanilla 9600GT design. We also noticed improvements over similar factory overclocked cards, such as Galaxy's 9600GT Overclocked.
In 3DMark06, the (GV-NX96T512HP) recorded an average of 11,177. This is a very impressive result and trumped our previous 9600GT record-holder, the Galaxy 9600GT (OC). (When we ran 3DMark06 using the same test bed, the Galaxy card returned a score of 10,956.)
The card performed equally well in the majority of our gaming tests. In the game F.E.A.R., it averaged 71 frames per second (fps) with maximum settings enabled. This was slightly higher than the Galaxy 9600GT (OC)'s result of 68fps. In Lost Planet: Extreme Conditions, both cards returned similar results, with the (GV-NX96T512HP) averaging slightly higher (84.5fps compared to 82fps).
In our DirectX 10 gaming tests, the (GV-NX96T512HP)'s performance took an expected dive, though it should still prove capable of running most games at acceptable frame rates. For instance, when we ran Lost Planet: Extreme Condition with maximum settings enabled, it returned an average result of 30.4fps. This is a perfectly playable speed and an improvement of 3fps over the Galaxy model. In the notoriously system-taxing Crysis, the card averaged 18.2fps. While this is disappointing, it is still an improvement over the Galaxy 9600GT (OC), which averaged just 16.6fps.
Like the rest of NVIDIA's 9600GT cards, the (GV-NX96T512HP) includes a HDMI adapter in the box and is HDCP compliant. This means that it will work with a high-definition player and screen; an important point if you want to use your PC as a media player. It also comes bundled with Gamer HUD, an optimisation tool that allows you to tweak the GPU, shader, and memory clock speeds for an extra boost in performance.
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