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Friday, 14 March 2008 21:41

XFX 9600 GT 700M XXX play hard tested

Written by Sanjin Rados
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Review: A natural born gamer

 

XFX has a very elegant naming system for its graphics cards, and the card we tested today is branded XFX 9600 GT 700M XXX Edition. This means that this particular 9600 GT is clocked at 700MHz, plain and simple. The reference clocked card bears the 650M designation, and for consumers who can't make up their minds, there's a 680M, too. As you can see, the card we're about to test is the fastest XFX 9600 GT.

Its memory is clocked at 1,000MHz (2000MHz effectively). That's 100MHz above the stock clock. Unlike ATI, Nvidia clocks its Shaders separately and XFX didn't forget to overclock them, as well. The Shaders run at 1750MHz, while the stock clock is 1625MHz. So, what we've got here is one 9600 GT with some nicely bumped up clocks and it comes bundled with a lot of goodies.



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As you can see, XFX spared no ink on the box and the huge "9" is there to let everybody know that this card is part of Nvidia's new 9 Series. A military spec job, to say the least. "A natural born Gamer," that's XFX's slogan when it comes to marketing these cards, but the fact is that this card doesn't really deserve its 9 Series designation. Nvidia's 9600 GT is based on an 8th generation chip, and it doesn't really boast anything new compared to previous high-end 8 Series cards.

XFX is doing its best to show it cares about its customers by including a copy of Company of Heroes with this card, and that's a much more sensible way of promoting a product. Apart from the giant "9", on the box, you'll see the most important specs, such as 700MHz core, 512MB GDDR3, PCI Express 2.0, SLI and HDMI. Of course, the memory bus is 256-bit, and this makes a world of difference compared to previous Nvidia mid-range cards. You can't even compare it to the old 8600 GT in any reasonable way, as it will wipe the floor with it and ask for more.

The back of the card is also packed with info, but it's making us airsick, so we will slowly move along.

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As you can see the card uses a reference PCB and cooler design, but that's not a bad thing. The reference cooler is more than powerful enough to cope with the overclocked core. What's more, it almost silent and in this department you should have no complaints whatsoever.

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The cooler itself is a single slot design, akin to the 8800GT cooler. So far, several partners launched 9600 GT cards with fancy, non-reference coolers. We really see no need for them, as the reference solution is good enough, but if you want to go passive that's another issue. Nvidia's reference cooler kept the GPU temperature at a pleasant 45°C whilst idle. Under load it went up to 65°C, which is still pretty low. We left the automatic fan speed control on to see how it copes with the OCed core. When idle the fan spun at just 35 percent RPM and under load it went up to 50 percent. Even under load the fan was very quiet, almost silent and the core temperature raised up to 67°C.

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Of course, the card is powered via a 6-pin PCIe power connector. Luckily, it is well placed and easily accessible.

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Another welcome feature of the 9600GT is HDMI support. In order to channel the sound through the card you need to connect an S/PDIF cable to it. You can clearly see the black pinhead connector on the picture below. When you connect it, you just need to stick the HDMI dongle onto the card and you're set to go.


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The audio cable and the HDMI dongle are bundled with the card, along with some other cables and dSUB dongles.

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Last modified on Sunday, 08 February 2009 15:25
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