Review: Speedy new mainstream
Zotac announced its AMP version of the 9600GT card. The tiny G94 core, also known as D9M, runs at 725MHz, while the reference speeds for 9600GT's are 650MHz. In case you forgot, Zotac was the first company that dared to overclock the 8800GT (G92) card to 700MHz, and it's these moves that quickly captured the hearts of Nvidia lovers. So now, 9600GT AMP Edition follows in its predecessor's footsteps. AMP 9600 GT card's memory runs at 1000MHz with Shaders at 1750MHz. Bear in mind that reference speeds are 900MHz memory and 1625MHz for Shaders.
Geforce 9600GT is here to replace the previous 8600GT generation of cards tha are simply too old to fight off the competition, both from ATI and in its own back yard. It's time to abandon the G84 8600GT, so we took the liberty of comparing EVGA's overclocked 8600GTS with reference and AMP versions of 9600GT. Since G94 is a crippled version of G92, a chip that's touted as one of the best performance chips ever, we expected good performance – and we got exactly that.
The Geforce 8600 has a 128-bit memory interface, but Nvidia's new mainstream card, the Geforce 9600GT, has a 256-bit memory interface that most certainly makes a difference. Graphics are getting evermore demanding and 512MB of GDDR3 on Geforce 9600GT definitely comes in handy. In this respect, the card is identical to the 8800 GT. The 9600GT packs 64 Shaders, twice as much as the 8600, which has 32 Shaders. The 8800GT has 112. Compared to the new 9600GT, the old 8600 card is smaller and just looks puny. Zotac offers all this for just €169.
Length-wise, this card is as long as the 8800 GT or 8800GTS, and if it wasn’t for the sticker, we could have easily mistaken it for a 8800GT.
Like we said before, the card packs 512MB of 256-bit memory that surrounds the G94 core. Zotac uses Samsung K4J52324QE - BJ1A memory chips running at 1000MHz. Memory bandwidth of Geforce 9600 GT is 57.6Gps. PCI Express power will not be enough so you’ll have to use 6pin power connector, and you can see that this PCB uses two-phase power. Zotac recommends a PSU with no less than 400W, and the card’s maximum consumption accounts for about 90W. Left to the SLI connector is a small connector that’s used to route audio from S/PDIF out on the motherboard. The card comes with an HDMI adapter that’s utilized in full only when you use it to route audio to the card – otherwise you’ll get only HD video. HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection) is on, of course.
G94 GPU is a DirectX10, OpenGL 2.1, Shader Model 4.0 product designed for PCI Express 2.0 and manufactured in 65nm by TSMC. The chip has 505 million transistors and it should compete with HD 3850 and HD 3870 cards.
The rear side features two standard dual-link DVI ports with HDCP as well as TV-out (HTDV). Although you can use DVI-to-HDMI dongle to connect your HDTV or HDMI device, the card doesn’t feature HDMI or Display Port that this card natively supports. 9600 GT AMP has a single-slot reference cooler that’s more than up to its job of cooling the G94 chip. During testing, we measured up to 65°C compared to the 8800GT card that heats up to 90°C with the same cooler. Idle mode temperature was around 46°C.
The fan is quiet and didn’t significantly increase its speed during heavy tasks. Zotac uses standard packaging, and seeing “Low-Noise Cooling” written on the box was music to our ears.
The card comes with standard and necessary content for your gaming and viewing pleasure, and you can use the cable that comes in the box to route your sound through HDMI.