Two Diverging Paths
Two Diverging Paths
Outfitted with ASUS' current favorite cooler, the Glaciator, the ASUS EN9600GT TOP is one of the quieter GeForce 9600 GT in the market. Despite the higher clock speeds, one should have no worries about heat or noise thanks to this excellent cooler. The only drawback is the extra expansion slot that one has to give up when using the TOP, though with motherboards nowadays integrating almost every feature, that spare slot is not as critical as before.
As expected from a TOP edition, this ASUS board comes overclocked out of the box at 10% faster than the reference and that is borne out by its 720MHz core clock, which is indeed 10% higher than the standard 650MHz. The 64 stream processors onboard the GeForce 9600 GT have also been increased to 1800MHz from 1625MHz. Memory clocks are also similarly overclocked to 2000MHz from 1800MHz, making this TOP edition one of the faster GeForce 9600 GT cards in the market.
In contrast to the relatively lightweight ASUS EN9600GT TOP, the Silent version weighed considerably more, mostly due to its large heatpipe based cooler, which ASUS calls V-Cool technology and which enables the core to be 10 degrees Celsius lower than the reference board. We'll be testing this in our temperature segment later but like all passive coolers, this requires a certain level of ventilation in the casing, and works best if there is unrestricted airflow within the chassis. The sizable cooler also makes this a two-slot solution like the TOP.
Probably due to its passive nature, the ASUS EN9600GT Silent runs at the standard clocks and has a slightly different board layout from the TOP version. Besides this, both cards have all the features one associates with the GeForce 9600 GT, from the HDMI output (S/PDIF cable included for audio integration) to SLI support. Naturally, the contents of the package for both ASUS cards are similar and you can expect to find the items listed below. Some of ASUS' proprietary utilities are also included, helpful for tasks from enhancing your video experience to tweaking your clock speeds.
- DVI-to-VGA adaptor
- DVI-to-HDMI adaptor
- 9-pin mini-DIN to Component dongle
- 6-pin Molex power connector
- S/PDIF cable
- Multi-language user manual (on CD)
- Quick installation guide
- Driver CD (including ASUS utilities e.g. GamerOSD, Smart Doctor, etc)
Both ASUS cards were tested using the exact same system, which consisted of an Intel D975XBX 'Bad Axe' motherboard equipped with an Intel Core 2 Duo E6700 (2.66GHz) processor. Memory was provided by 2GB of DDR2-800 low latency modules from Kingston, in dual channel mode. We also used a Seagate 7200.7 SATA hard drive, installed with Windows XP Professional and updated with Service Pack 2 and DirectX 9.0c.
Since the TOP edition comes overclocked while the Silent version is at the standard clocks, we have assembled a number of GeForce 9600 GT cards that we had tested previously in this comparison. All these cards were tested using ForceWare 174.12 and our benchmark results were taken using the included time demos and other built-in benchmarking tools available in the following games:
- Futuremark 3DMark06 (ver 110)
- Company of Heroes (ver 1.3)
- F.E.A.R (ver 1.0)
- World in Conflict (ver 1.05)
- Supreme Commander (patched to 3255)
- Crysis (ver 1.1)
- Unreal Tournament 3 (ver 1.1)