Can I share a little secret with you guys? This was an atrocious review to do. It took so much time to photograph all the cards, then individually have to reinstall each card in the system to test the same benchmarks over and over again. Honestly nauseating work ... none the less; the minute I finished up testing the last graphics card (ehm that would be 5 hours ago) I felt a real good satisfactory sense of what we accomplished here today.
Where else will you find such extensive and elaborate graphics card reviews with so many cards and vendors included in a launch article? Yes, we life and breathe for this stuff ... None the less, inserting so many products into one conclusion is pure hell. So forgive me that I have to generalize a little here.
What to say about the GeForce 9600 GT? It's a good product. I mean, I'd still prefer a 8800 GT or 8800 GT 512MB GTS over this product, but for a mid-range product you get to have good performance at an acceptable price. This is the product I have been waiting on for a long time though. Depending on what kind of model you purchase, prices will range from 160 to 200 USD, and expect the prices in EUR to be roughly the same. By doing so NVIDIA places a very competitive product under the sub-200 USD price range, making really nice gameplay affordable for a large and broad audience.
The products will offer you heaps of functionality, but more so, will give you the opportunity to play modern games at really good framerates up-to the 1600x1200 segment armed with very good image quality settings. After 1600x1200 it'll get a little tricky for the more intensive games; but granted anything higher than 16x12 means entering the high-end segment anyway. So yeah, really good bang for your buck is what the GeForce 9600 GT will deliver.
Now initially two more board partners submitted their card for a review as well: Inno3D and XFX. These cards are still stuck in customs. Yes initially we planned eight vendor cards in this article. I want to quickly run by each tested card one by one and appoint their primary competitive features over the competition, again in alphabetical order:
BFG GeForce 9600 GT 512MB OC - A rock-solid product, reference based yet offered with a conservative overclock. Expect slightly above baseline performance yet what makes this card incredible is the life-time warranty. Very recommended.
ECS GeForce 9600 GT 512MB OC - What an amazing card. It performed in the highest performance range thanks to it's nice default overclock. A shy bundle, yet what makes the card so special is the custom design and most of all the very well performing passive cooler. Bare in mind though that you can't setup this card later on in SLI mode due to the sheer size of the heatsink. But what a lovely card; and it comes with two years warranty.
eVGA GeForce 9600 GT 512MB SSC edition - This is the Optimus prime among the 9600 GT range. I had no clue how fast this product was clocked until I checked and rechecked a second time. Despite the massive clock the temperatures were absolutely normal. This is the fastest performing 9600 GT we tested. Such performance comes at a price and I do think it'll hover slightly above 200 USD. But eVGA tops it off with that sweet life-time warranty and step-up program. D-e-licious, that's what this card is.
Galaxy GeForce 9600 GT 512MB OC - Galaxy does what Galaxy does good: customizing graphics cards. If there was a show on the telly called 'pimp my card', then west-coast customs would be Galaxy fine customs. The board design is awesome, the cooler high-performance. It's slightly more noisy then the rest of the gang, but also cools better. A very nice card indeed.
Point of View GeForce 9600 GT 512MB - Point of View decided to simply ship the reference based product. it'll probably be among the cheapest on the market; but wait .. they will launch an EXO edition as well (EXtreme Overclocked). This card performs on par with the baseline performance of the reference product, which is simply good. But wait again; at the end of March PoV will throw in a new (to be disclosed) full game AND they will offer you three years of warranty. The product will be cheaper than the cards above, yet loaded with alot of bang for buck.
Now I'm not going to recommend you which card to buy ... for each and everyone of you there's a different reason to purchase a certain model. You can opt the cheapest card available or decide to get a customized version and try to tweak the living daylight out of it. Others will opt the most silent model and divert to ECS ... see the plethora of options in features, clocks and budget is in the end the decision you need to make. Each of the products tested above come very much recommended.
Each of the five manufacturers products will receive an award and here's how we'll sing that song:
The two awards are our Editor's choice "Gaming Recommended" award and the second our top level "Best hardware" award.
In the category "Great Value" we grant Point of View an award. These cards are just fantastic to play games with in a plethora of resolutions versus image quality. Superb performance for a really good price. In Europe I expect the card to start off at a 175 EUR price range and then after a week or two it'll likely drop to 160 EUR.
You just can't beat that price, and remember; you'll get one hot full game roughly at the end of March with it for free.
Then we have the "Best Hardware" award for the somewhat more luxurious products for a number of reasons. ECS and Galaxy earn it for their custom cooling and design which where just wonderful to see. That alone gives them an edge over the reference based products. I like product diversity very much; it gives you, the end user options in that store. Then I just have to include both BFG & eVga for such an extensive Lifetime warranty combined with the default faster clock-speeds. eVGA without a doubt is the fastest of the bunch, yet you'll feel that in your wallet as well, slightly as the projected sales price will be 209 USD. Though I have to admit that the two products that seemed to have an edge in this entire segment were ECS and eVGA.
It's not an easy task to categorize the awards, but again .. in the end you decide what to purchase, not me. With that being said I'll close this article. The GeForce 9600 GT product series offer you heaps of features and just a very pleasurable gaming experience at exceedingly reasonable resolutions as this is the first time we see a sub-200 USD product shift towards playable resolutions of 1600x1200. The GeForce 9600 GT series is a truly grand graphics card in the mid-range segment and we can recommend it a lot.
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