Galaxy 9600GT Overclocked
- Excellent performance for a mid-range graphics card, comes bundled with Xtreme Tuner software, factory overclocked core and memory speeds
- Texture fill rate has taken a dive, frame rate struggles in high-end gaming
The Galaxy 9600GT Overclocked is an excellent mid-range graphics card that easily stacks up against anything else on the market. With the inclusion of Xtreme Tuner overclocking software, it's value remains unmatched.
Price$ 279.00 (AUD)
The Galaxy 9600GT OverClocked (OC) is one of the latest graphics cards to use NVIDIA's ninth generation GeForce GPU (graphics processing unit). Aimed primarily at casual gamers, this factory overclocked edition falls into the upper echelon of mainstream graphics cards, offering plenty of processing power at a price that most people can afford. Diehard 3-D enthusiasts may not get the results they want from high-end games like Crysis, but Galaxy's decision to include easy-to-use overclocking software will give gamers more flexibility. Subsequently the card remains an excellent value choice.
The Galaxy 9600GT OC is built around NVIDIA's latest series 9 GPU core, codenamed the G94. Very little has changed from the previous G92 chip (as 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 does fall roughly in line with the 9600GT's lower price tag and intended target audience. Aside from that, Galaxy has made a few of its own changes to the clock speeds.
Its core clock speed has been stepped up from 650MHz to 675MHz, increasing the texture fill rate to a potential 21.6 gigatexels per second, while the memory clock speed now sits at 1GHz (2GHz effective); up from the standard 9600GT's 900MHz. With its 256-bit bus, this works out to a maximum theoretical memory bandwidth of 64GBps; an improvement of 6.4GBps over NVIDIA's reference design. Its shader clock, meanwhile, remains unchanged at 1625MHz.
These specifications compare favourably with MSI's equivalent graphics card; the GeForce N9600GT (T2D512-OC), which has a maximum memory throughput of 60.8GBps. However, the MSI 9600GT (T2D512-OC) sports higher core and shader clock speeds (700MHz and 1650MHz, respectively), so it's arguable as to which card offers the better performance.
Like the rest of NVIDIA's 9600GT cards, the Galaxy 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.
In our benchmark test using 3DMark06, the Galaxy 9600GT (OC) received an overall score of 10956. This is an excellent result for a mid-range graphics card that easily stacks up against similarly priced models on the market. In Half-Life 2, the Galaxy 9600GT (OC) averaged 129fps (frames per second). This was 11 frames more per second than the Inno3D 9600GT; a similarly specified card that returned a score of 118fps when using the same test bed. In the game F.E.A.R, the Galaxy 9600GT (OC) received an average framerate of 68fps. Again, this was a better result than the Inno3D 9600GT, which averaged out at 64fps.
In our DirectX 10 gaming tests, Galaxy 9600GT (OC) returned less impressive results. When we ran Lost Planet: Extreme Condition with maximum settings enabled, it returned an average result of 25.2fps, while in the resource-hogging Crysis, it scored just 16.65fps. These results were both slower than the MSI 9600GT, which returned scores of 18fps and 28.5fps respectively (albeit it on a slightly different testbed).
One of the more interesting selling points of the Galaxy 9600GT (OC) is the inclusion of Xtreme Tuner; a first party software application geared towards DIY users. This easy-to-use tool allows you to adjust the card's core, memory and shader clock speeds, as well as the fan speed, via a series of slider bars. You can also set the fan speed to Auto (so it adjusts on-the-fly to suit the GPU's temperature) and link clock speeds together for optimum results. Using the Xtreme Tuner software, we were able to the boost the shader clock speed to 1810MHz, the core clock speed to 750MHz and the memory clock speed to 1100MHz (2200MHz effective) without losing stability. When we ran 3DMark2006 again at these settings, the Galaxy 9600GT (OC) returned an improved score of 11687 (compared to its previous showing of 10956).
All up, the Galaxy 9600GT is a fairly robust graphics card that delivers plenty of 'bang' for the mainstream user's buck. While 3-D enthusiasts won't be bowled over by NVIDIA's new chip design, those who require a mid-range, DX10-capable card will be more than satisfied by this feature-rich offering.
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