Review: Silent cooling you can rely on
Sparkle's Calibre Geforce 9600GT P960 is a graphics card with one really efficient and stylish dual-fly cooling system. Sparkle overclocked the card and it still runs silently, but it’s the cooling system that truly separates this card from the rest of the 9600 GT pack. So far, we’ve had a chance to see a couple of nice 9600 GT custom cooling solutions, although the reference cooler is also efficient. Still, with this cooler, 9600 GT P960 card looks much better and stronger than reference 9600 GT cards.
The cooler is dual slot and packs two fans. Although massive, it’s not too heavy since it’s mostly aluminum. It looks futuristic and it most certainly is. The fans, which normally lean on the heatsink, can be easily angled by 30° in order to get better airflow and thus better cooling. Sparkle claims that will result in up to 10° cooler core than measured on reference cards.
Sparkle Geforce 9600 GT Calibre P960 runs at 700MHz, the Shaders at 1850MHz and the memory at 2000MHz. We see that core overclock is coupled with high shader overclocks, too. Many partners offer 9600 GT cards at 700MHz, but most of them feature Shaders at 1750MHz, whereas Sparkle opted for 1850MHz speeds. Faster Shaders on their card also resulted in slightly better results on our tests.
We need to adjust the fans separately, and couple of handles and a light push will do the trick.
Pushing the mechanism will release the safety pins (see below) and you can lower or lift the fan together with the heatpipe.
The heatpipe lifts up together with the fan, and in order to enable such a feat the heatpipe can be rotated on its base.
Sparkle P960 cooler has three heatpipes. Two of those are visible and are mounted on the front where they can be cooled by the fans, whereas the third heatpipe is located on the bottom of the aluminum cooler block.
This copper heatpipe makes sure that heat is evenly distributed throughout the entire block. The block also leans on the memory, so it’s nice and cool there too. Sparkle decided to use standard 9600 GT memory used by most partners, and it’s Samsung K4J52324QE - BJ1A.
This card has 512MB of 256bit memory running at 2000MHz, just like the reference card. It’s important to note that the G94 core on 9600 GT cards is a crippled version of G92 core featuring only 64 stream processors. 8800 GTS (G92) packs 128, whereas 8800 GT cards feature 112 stream processors.
As far as connectivity goes, it features two standard dual-link DVIs with HDCP, as well as a TV-Out (HDTV). Although you can get HDMI through DVI, and connect it to your HDTV or HDMI device, the card doesn’t feature HDMI or DisplayPort natively.
The following photo shows the mechanism used to hold the heatpipe and the fan nice and tight. It allows it to rotate, but at the same time it’s always in direct contact with the cooler’s copper base. You’ll have to be careful with the thin cables when lifting and lowering the fans, because as you can see the fan on the right is a bit cluttered.
The fans on Sparkle 9600 GT P960 can be moved even when the card is running, but make sure that it’s screwed tight to the back panel. The only downside to this cooler is that the card with two raised fans will take up three slots. We appreciate the fact that Sparkle tried something new to attract customers, but 9600 GT’s cooler ran silent and cool, too. Still, Sparkle’s cooler is even more silent, almost inaudible.
The temperatures were around 58°C during random tasks, whereas idle mode resulted in temperatures around 39°C. These are really nice compared to reference 8800 GT, where we’ve seen temperatures hitting as high as 92°C. However, compared to reference 9600 GT there was no drastic difference.
The card comes in quite an attractive packaging, and about a year ago we awarded the design. It’s been left unchanged since then, and it’s still easy on the eye. Inside, you’ll find the drivers and the installation manual, as well as a couple of standard cables, and of course - PCI Express 2.0 card called Sparkle Geforce 9600 GT Calibre P960 Dual-Fly.