Inno3D I-9600GT (H5GTCD)
- Solid performance for a mid-range graphics card
- There are superior 9600GT cards available which retail for around the same price
The Inno3D I-9600GT (H5GTCD) is a top notch graphics card when judged on its own merits, delivering plenty of processing power at a price anybody can afford. However, when compared against similarly priced equivalent cards from other vendors, its performance is left slightly wanting.
Price$ 289.00 (AUD)
The Inno3D I-9600GT (H5GTCD) is a DirectX 10-capable graphics card built on the backbone of NVIDIA's latest G94 graphics processing unit. Like the other 9600GT models we've looked at, it offers the mainstream user highly impressive performance in mid-range gaming. However, when it comes to performance tweaks and bundled software, the I-9600GT (H5GTCD) has unfortunately been outclassed by several equivalent cards from competing vendors. As such, it is not quite the bargain purchase that it should be.
Before we get down to reviewing the I-9600GT (H5GTCD), let's take a brief look at the technology it runs on. With its mid-range architecture and pricing, the 9600GT isn't the most powerful iteration of the new GeForce 9 series. Rather, its G94 core processor is a minor reworking of the 8800GT's G92, sporting the same 256-bit bus width, 512MB of GDDR3 RAM and 900MHz memory clock speed (1800MHz effective). The core and shader clock speeds, meanwhile, have been boosted to 650MHz and 1625MHz respectively.
Another, more significant change is to the number of stream processors, which have been stripped down from 112 to just 64. This will naturally deter hardcore gamers with a penchant for maxed-out settings, though the majority of modern titles will still chug along at an acceptable rate. (Interestingly, the higher-end cards in the 9 series, such as the EN9800GX2, actually retain the previous generation's G92 GPUs.)
Previously we have looked at the MSI GeForce N9600GT (T2D512-OC) and Galaxy 9600GT Overclocked; two competing mid-range cards that run on the same basic chipset. Whereas both of these models have been factory overclocked, the Inno3D I-9600GT (H5GTCD) sticks rigidly to NVIDIA's reference board design; retaining its maximum memory throughput of 57.6GBps. Curiously, the Inno3D I-9600GT (H5GTCD) isn't even the cheapest of the three cards, with the Galaxy model costing $10 less.
When we ran 3DMark06, the I-9600GT (H5GTCD) received an overall score of 10596; a solid result for a graphics card in this price range. However, the Galaxy 9600GT (OC) returned a score of 10956 (an improvement of 366) when using the same test bed. While this isn't a particularly huge difference, it's worth remembering that the Galaxy card is actually cheaper. In other words, it offers a better performance for slightly less money.
In our DirectX 9 gaming tests, the I-9600GT (H5GTCD) was again outclassed by the Galaxy 9600GT (OC). This was particularly noticeable in Half-Life 2. When we used Inno3D's card, the game averaged 118fps (frames per second), yet with the Galaxy card installed, it averaged 129fps. This was a difference of 11 frames per second, which in gaming terms can be quite significant.
The I-9600GT (H5GTCD)'s losing streak continued in our DirectX 10 tests, albeit by a smaller margin. When we ran Lost Planet: Extreme Condition with maximum settings enabled, the I-9600GT (H5GTCD) averaged out at 26.3fps, whereas the Galaxy 9600GT (OC) managed a slightly faster result of 27.55fps. Likewise, in the resource-hogging game Crysis, the Inno3D card scored 16.2fps, which was slightly down from the 9600GT (OC)'s 17.85fps. Finally, Call of Juarez returned average frame rates of 24.1fps and 25.2fps, with the 9600GT (OC) once again coming out in top.
In summary, the Inno3D I-9600GT (H5GTCD) would be a pretty solid offering if it weren't for the presence of Galaxy's 9600GT (OC). While both cards deliver plenty of bang for the mainstream gamer's buck, there can be no debate over which model offers the better performance. This is made doubly apparent when you factor in Galaxy's inclusion of Xtreme Tuner software; a DIY tool that lets you set your own clock speeds. By contrast, all the Inno3D I-9600GT (H5GTCD) offers is a couple of cables.
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