Review: Xstrike3 cooler and Ghost Recon 2 gift
Nvidia's Geforce 9 generation features a couple of low-cost cards, among which you’ll find 9600 GSO. This card is positioned above 9500 GT but it sells at a price similar, or a bit lower than 9600 GT. We’ve seen many new cards this month, but many of those were just rebranded old stuff. Sadly, Geforce 9600 GSO is not an exception to that rule, as this card is nothing but the old Geforce 8800 GS with a fancy new name.
Many of you probably never heard of 8800 GS, as only a couple of partners such as Asus and XFX incorporated it into their offer. We tested it and you can read the review here. Not long after it was announced, 8800 GS was rebranded into Geforce 9600 GSO.
Inno3D decided not to waste this opportunity so now you can find 9600 GSO cards in their low-cost offer. In order to draw some attention to this card, Inno3D used Xstriker3 cooler, which in turn enables for easy overclocking. Geforce 9600 GSO found its place in Inno3D’s iChiLL series famous for good thermal characteristics and quality of materials used.
Inno3D iChiLL series is aimed at enthusiasts with slightly deeper pockets, but who are willing to sacrifice some of their cash for top quality. The picture below shows Inno3D 9600 GS card with the Xstriker 3 cooler, something that will make sure you remember this card.
The black cooler looks quite stylish with a white fan and gold TV out and DVI connectors. In this case good looks is coupled with efficiency, and the cooler is good enough to enable for easy overclocking of G92-150 core.
For those who want a bit more power straight out of the box, Inno3D did a good job overclocking this card from default 550MHz to 610MHz. However, we were a bit mystified as to why stream processors were left at default 1375MHz.
In order to further enhance performance this card got a memory boost, too. Reference speed of 800MHz (1600MHz) is overclocked by 100MHz and now runs at 900MHz (1800MHz). Those who are thinking of buying this card will be happy to hear that the memory on this card is made by Samsung and it’s intended to run at 1000MHz which leaves some additional overclocking room.
We removed one small black heatsink that keeps the memory modules cooled and found the mentioned Samsung memory. The heatsink in question is cooled by the air from Xstriker3 cooler that covers all the memory modules.
Geforce 9600 GSO is a card with a strange 192bit memory interface, which results in unusual memory quantity – in this case it’s 768MB of GDDR3. Weaker models have half this number, meaning 384MB.
The card comes with 6 memory modules, each packing 128MB, and they’re visible only when you remove the cooler. All the modules are located on the front and each has its own heatsink.
G92-150 graphics core is built in 65nm and it puts 96 stream processors at your disposal. Although 9600 GSO should, due to a higher number of stream processors, be better than 9600 GT (64 stream processors), the card suffers from a weaker 192bit memory bus, compared to the 256-bit one on 9600 GT. ROP units are, of course, an important part of graphics pipeline and 9600 GSO features 12 ROPs, compared to 9600 GT that has 16 ROPs.
Inno3D managed to improve overall performance of this card by overclocking the core to 610MHz and the memory to 900MHz, but 9600GT will probably come out on top if you use filters while gaming.
Xstriker3 cooler has two heatpipes leading from the copper base to aluminum fins. Unfortunately, the cooler is connected by two wires and manual RPM control is not possible. RPM is constant, regardless of core temperatures.
2D and 3D result in same noise levels, and although it’s not too loud, we’d rather have automatic or manual RPM. Inno3D says that Xstriker3 runs at 28.5db, which is about what we heard during our testing.
Geforce 9600 GSO is a DirectX 10.0 card with shader model 4.0 and PCI Express 2.0. Power connector is 6-pin and the card will draw up to 84W.
Lack of SPDIF connector is somewhat of a downside, because you can use HDMI but without sound. That means you’ll have to route the sound from your soundcard/amp to your TV device.
I/O panel features two gold dual-link DVI outs with HDCP, but to get HDMI you’ll have to use the DVI-to-HDMI adapter. The adapter is not provided in the box which is a shame, especially knowing that Inno3D went that extra mile and gold coated DVI outs. The gold coating should provide lossless quality of signal during signal transfer.
However, lack of SPDIF will not affect this card’s other capabilities – namely PhysX support and CUDA.
Inno3D 9600 GSO comes in quite a large box for a low-cost graphics card but it looks quite nice. Inno3D used plastics to imitate bubble cushion on the box, and the Xstriker3 cooler is visible through it.
We were surprised to see Ghost Recon 2 gift with this card, and we must say that it’s a great present that will definitely make this card even more appealing.