Evga e-GeForce 9600 GSO (Dual-Slot Edition)
A solid entry-level performer
- Highly affordable price, 768MB of GDDR3 memory, able to compete with higher-specified cards
- Variable performance in gaming tests, chipset is a bit long in the tooth
EVGA's e-GeForce 9600 GSO is a tasty little offering with one of the best cost-to-performance ratios we've seen. Hardcore gamers may want to cough up for something a little more gutsy, but for the asking price you can’t go wrong.
Price$ 190.00 (AUD)
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The EVGA e-GeForce 9600 GSO is an entry-level graphics card based on one of NVIDIA’s ninth generation GeForce graphics processing units (GPUs). Aimed primarily at the casual gaming sector, it provides a fair amount of wallop at a mainstream price; the card's 768MB of GDDR3 memory is its standout feature.
In recent months, NVIDIA's GeForce 9 series of graphics cards has been largely superseded by its new GTX 200 range, along with faster and more powerful alternatives from ATI. However, as the e-GeForce 9600 GSO amply demonstrates, there’s still plenty of life in the “old” dog yet. (Depressingly, the first GeForce 9600 cards were released barely six months ago — apparently, that’s a whole lifetime in ‘PC’ years. No wonder hardcore gamers are so poor!)
The Geforce 9600 GSO is essentially a re-branded version of NVIDIA’s 8800 GS from two generations ago. Both GPUs sport the same amount of stream processors (96), identical core and memory clock speeds (550MHz and 1600MHz effective), 384MB of GDDR3 memory and a 192-bit memory bus. EVGA’s latest — and greatest — iteration of this card throws a few additional improvements into the mix. Most significantly, the amount of onboard RAM has doubled; leaping from 384MB to 768MB. Being a dual slot edition, it also comes with a larger fan, which makes for a quieter and cooler operation — a plus for overclocking fans.
We ran our benchmarks on a Vista 32-bit machine equipped with 1GB of DDR2 RAM, a 750GB Barracuda ES hard drive and a 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Quad CPU. We then compared the results to two GeForce 9600GT cards aimed at the midrange market: MSI’s GeForce N9600GT (T2D512-OC) and Galaxy’s 9600GT Overclocked.
Depending on the game at hand, the e-GeForce 9600 GSO gave an up-and-down performance when it came to our gaming tests. In the game F.E.A.R., the MSI and Galaxy cards both averaged 68 frames per second. This was significantly faster than the EVGA e-GeForce 9600 GSO, which chugged along at a less impressive 47fps.
On the other hand, when we ran Half-Life 2 the EVGA card returned an average frame rate of 163.27fps. This was faster than both the Galaxy 9600GT Overclocked and MSI GeForce N9600GT (T2D512-OC), which averaged 117fps and 129fps respectively. When we ran the DirectX 10 game Crysis the e-GeForce 9600 GSO also came out on top; it averaged 23.9fps, compared to 16.65fps and 18fps from the Galaxy and MSI models.
In a confounding twist, the DX10 version of Lost Planet: Extreme Conditions ran slightly faster on EVGA’s two rivals, despite their poor showing in Crysis. In 3DMark06, the e-GeForce 9600 GSO received an overall score of 9754, which is also slightly disappointing. By contrast, the Galaxy and MSI cards returned scores of 10,956 and 10,829 respectively.
It’s important to note, however, that the e-GeForce 9600 GSO is the cheapest of the bunch; the fact that it can hold its own against a 9600GT should not be dismissed lightly.
Like the rest of NVIDIA's 9600 series, the EVGA 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 centre. A single 6-pin PCI Express connector is used to power the card and power consumption is quite low.
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First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.