XFX always had nice treats to offer, and its Geforce line-up was always packed with super-fast cards. Today, we review their Geforce 9600 GSO 680M XXX, the fastest one in its series.
Overclocking is not only a thing for enthusiasts and those who increase speeds to see what their hardware can take. Many would surely like that, but there’s always a risk of damaging your card. XFX realized that most users don’t know how to overclock their graphics card, and that finding an optimum speed where the card will run stable but provide noticeable performance gain is not easy at all.
High frequencies can damage hardware, something not covered by warranties. If you’re not a fan of overclocking, but reference graphics cards just don’t feed your hunger, then you’ll be better off buying a factory overclocked card. At the same time, you don’t have to worry about potential breakdowns, as the company will have to fix or replace your card if it breaks down. It’s also important to note that XFX is one of the rare partners that offers overclocked 9600 GSO graphics cards.
Geforce 9600 GSO is based on 8800 GT design. To be more precise, 9600 GSO is 8800 GS graphics card with a new name. After 9600 GT cards’ prices went down, 9600 GSO turned out to be less desirable, as it’s slower and priced only a bit lower than 9600 GT.
Compared to 9600 GT, 9600 GSO features lower clocks and less memory at your disposal, coupled with a weaker memory bus. Luckily, XFX gave these cards new life as it overclocked them to 680MHz (reference 550MHz). This means that it now features clocks higher than 9600 GT, and XFX also includes a gift game, Company of Heroes.
Graphics core G92-150 (9600GSO/8800GS) is built in 65nm and has 96 stream processors. Although 9600 GSO has more stream processors than 9600 GT (64 stream processors) the card features a weaker 192-bit memory bus compared to the 256-bit one on 9600GT. An important piece of the graphics pipeline is the number of ROP units, and 9600 GSO has 12, unlike 9600 GT that features 16. XFX’s heavily overclocked Geforce 9600 GSO 680M, apart from the 130MHz faster core, has shader processors running at 1700MHz (reference 1375MHz) and the memory at 1900MHz (reference 1600MHz).
The card features standard outs – two dual-link DVIs with HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection) with HDMI support via the adapter.
XFX recommends a PSU of minimum 500W, but a quality 450W PSU will be sufficient. Using two cards in SLI mode is another story, and you’ll definitely need additional 100W.
XFX uses reference cooling that’s nice and isn’t loud. It does a good job of cooling and keeping the temperatures below 75 degrees Celsius. We mentioned that 9600GSO is based on 8800 GT design, but this time with two empty memory lots. This resulted in memory going from 512MB to 384MB, whereas the 256-bit memory bus got ditched and the 192-bit was used instead.
The upper part of the card is made of metal and it doesn’t just look good but it also performs thermal regulation. Note that you won’t find it on the reference designs.
The black colored PCB fits in nicely with the rest of the XFX 9600 GSO 680M XXX design. We must admit that XFX probably has the most memorable packaging and sticker design for Geforce 9 series.
Apart from the card, the box contains the gift game, Company of Heroes, a CD with the drivers, a short installation manual, two DVI-to-VGA adapters, S-video cable and component out, dual Molex-to-6pin PCI Express power adapter and a “Do Not Disturb” paper sign to hang on your doorknob.
Geforce 9600 GSO is a DX10 graphics card that, just like the rest of the 8th and 9th generation Geforce cards, supports Nvidia PhysX. Furthermore, the new drivers allow for using one graphics card as a PhysX processor. If you’re using SLI (9600 GSO supports SLI) and you have a free slot, then you can use the third card to take the in-game physics calculating burden off your SLI configuration.
Pure Video HD technology enables the GPU to be used as a video processor. One of the first programs that enables efficient utilizing of Geforce cards’ GPU is Badaboom application.
Motherboard: EVGA 790i FTW Digital ( Provided by: EVGA );
Processor: Intel Core 2 QX9770 Extreme edition ( Provided by: Intel );
Memory: OCZ3RPR16004GK 1600MHz 7-7-7-24 ( Provided by: OCZ );
HDD: WD VelociRaptor 300G 10,000RPM ( Provided by: SmoothCreation );
The first two tests show just that XFX is clearly superior compared to 9600 GSO cards. It seems like 9600 GSO 680M XXX is better than 9600 GT, but we’ll wait on the gaming tests before we say anything with certainty.
XFX’s high speeds enable it to get really close to 9600 GT’s results. World in Conflict needs more memory when antialiasing is on, so XFX with 384MB loses to 9600 GT that packs 512MB of memory.
XFX 9600 GSO 680M XXX is a very fast 9600 GSO graphics card, and probably the fastest one in its series. It runs 130MHz faster than reference 9600 GSO and such a difference clearly had an impact on results. We see that XFX’s card is much faster than the reference 9600 GSO, and it even performs close to 9600 GT. If you’re planning on buying a gaming card, and your budget is limited, this is a card that you must consider.
It is an alternative to 9600GT, especially as XFX 9600 GSO is highly overclocked, and it clearly stands against non-overclocked card. ATI Radeon 4830 ends up faster in most of the time but it is a bit more expensive. It is a tough call to find the right card in under 100 € but one thing is clear: XFX overclocked 9600 GSO 680MHz XXX will be enough to play most of the games, but the choice is as always yours.