NVIDIA GeForce 9600 GT Launch and 3-Way Shootout
eVGA GeForce 9600 GT SSC Edition
eVGA has been known to take a few chances here or there when it comes to overclocking and custom cooling systems in the past, but for the release of their GeForce 9600 GT product, we see them taking a surprisingly conservative approach. eVGA’s first GeForce 9600 GT release is their e-GeForce 9600 GT SSC Edition, which comes factory overclocked out of the box and runs significantly faster than NVIDIA’s recommended clock speeds. However, beyond clock speeds, this is more or less a run-of-the-mill reference designed product.
Of course, that’s not a terrible thing, as NVIDIA’s reference design is compact, quiet, and doesn’t run the risk of any unforeseen issues down the line, as this is a purebred NVIDIA design from the ground up. eVGA bundles their board in an attractive, simple, and confident box with a matching design on the cooling system. eVGA’s GeForce 9600 GT SSC Edition card runs at 740 MHz GPU clock speed by default, which is a whopping ~14% boost over reference clocks, and can make a sizable difference when it comes to performance. The GPU is supported by 512MB of GDDR-3 memory which clocks in at 1,950 MHz, a solid 8% boost in speed. This kicks up memory bandwidth levels up to 62 GB/s, which is quite impressive for a sub-$200 graphics card.
The cooling system is based on NVIDIA’s reference design, which is the same cooler that was used for the GeForce 8800 GT lineup as well. This cooling system is a single-slot design, which is remarkably heavy given its size. The unit features a copper core, copper heatpipes, and a dense array of thin-fins for dissipating heat. Embedded on the right side of the board is a thin 60mm sized cooling fan, that ran very quiet throughout all of our tests. We did hear the fan kick up once or twice during our high-resolution Crysis benchmarking, although even when it was running at higher speed grade, it was not loud and/or annoying.
eVGA GeForce 9600 GT - Left
eVGA GeForce 9600 GT - Right
The single-slot design does affect temperatures, however, as we measured our GPU hitting peak temperature levels of 154ºF under sustained loads, while idling at about 118ºF. While these temperatures are well within the thermal bounds of the GPU, they are quite warm. However, never once did we see any abnormal affects due to this temperature, even at the card’s factory overclocked levels. Even better, the card is quite overclockable as well, as we were able to hit 775 MHz GPU clock speeds along with 2200 MHz GDDR-3 memory clock speeds in our testbed.
The board has a PCI Express 2.0 x16 interface (as with all 9600GTs), along with two dual-link DVI ports and an S-Video/HDTV output port. A 6-pin PCI Express power connector is also required, as expected, as the board pulls about 25% more power than the PCI Express slot can deliver. All in all, eVGA's offering is a very solid entry to the GeForce 9600 GT lineup, albeit a bit bland when it comes to design.