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Finding the Mid-range Sweet Spot - GeForce 9600 GT Showdown

Finding the Mid-range Sweet Spot - GeForce 9600 GT Showdown



Palit & Sparkle

Palit GeForce 9600GT Sonic

We have always looked forward to the non-standard NVIDIA boards that Palit have released over the years but the company has probably outdid itself with its GeForce 9600 GT Sonic. Firstly, the redesigned PCB comes with a three-phase power design instead of the two-phase version found on the reference that may lead to higher overclocks and better stability. The card itself is overclocked, though with a 700MHz core and 2000MHz DDR memory, it doesn't seem that extreme. The dual slot cooler is also not that unusual as we have seen similar designs from the vendor before.

What took our breath away is the presence of a DisplayPort together with a HDMI output at the back. As some of you should know, DisplayPort is still a relatively new interface standard that's driven by VESA and competes against the HDMI interface favored by consumer electronics. However, big companies like ATI and Intel have pledged support for this new standard and notably, new monitors from Dell include this new connector. Whether it will take off ultimately is uncertain at this early stage but Palit has ensured that this Sonic will be a future proof card with its three different forms of output. Additionally, there's even an optical S/PDIF output.

Finally, Palit has included a decent bundle, with a Tomb Raider game and the necessary cables like optical and S/PDIF audio cables. At US$210, it is more expensive than the standard GeForce 9600 GT but that is expected given its capabilities. As Palit is generally not available in the Asia-Pacific region, consumers should be looking out for the XpertVision brand for the equivalent product (which is also included in this article).

  •  
  • Driver CD
  • Installation guide
  • Tomb Raider Anniversary (full game)
  • DVI-to-VGA adaptor
  • 6-pin Molex power connector
  • Optical audio cable
  • S/PDIF cable


Sparkle GeForce 9600 GT 512MB

The sole card in our roundup to come with passive cooling, Sparkle's GeForce 9600 GT is another rare specimen that might be a little hard to come by in certain regions. Like the Palit before, the Sparkle has a slightly redesigned PCB and a mixture of solid and non-solid capacitors. What most consumers should be interested in is its heat pipe based passive cooler, which is actually quite conventional. The radiator with its array of aluminum fins are placed on the other side of the card, with enough clearance to avoid bumping into any motherboard components. Given its passive cooler, we weren't expecting any overclocking but Sparkle did bump up the core clock to 660MHz, but this 10MHz increment probably has little effect. Finally, a SRP of US$249 is quite the premium to pay for a GeForce 9600 GT, as you can probably get a GeForce 8800 GT for that.

  • Driver CD
  • Installation guide
  • DVI-to-VGA adaptor
  • S-Video extension cable
  • 7-pin mini-DIN to Component dongle