Four GeForce 9600 GT Cards Compared

MSI GeForce 9600 GT Hybrid Freezer (N9600GT Hybrid Freezer)

MSI employs a somewhat unusual concept with its Hybrid Freezer. The card is both passively and actively cooled. The fan doesn’t throttle down under mild loads, but is completely deactivated in 2D applications. The card remains silent until the graphics processor (GPU) has heated up the card enough to trigger the fan.

The MSI Hybrid Freezer is passively and actively cooled; four high-quality copper heat pipes distribute the heat

The card is cool at the start, and with the GPU temperature at 40 °C, the fan is completely turned off for complete silence. Without a load in 2D applications, it takes about 15 minutes to heat up the graphics chip to 79 °C, which causes the 70 mm fan to switch on. At 40.7 dB(A) you can hear a faint whirring. It takes about 4 minutes to cool the GPU down to 39 °C, at which point the fan turns off and the card is completely silent again.

These numbers were taken from an open test platform. With better airflow through the cooling solution, or when under different GPU loads (like when you’re watching videos), the times for heating and cooling will naturally vary. Because the bottom of the cooler is open and the fan sits in the middle, a maximum of only 50% of hot air is blown out of the housing; the rest is recirculated inside the PC housing.

In 3D applications, a lot more heat is created. The fan turns on a lot sooner, but stays at a constant noise level of 40.7 dB(A) which is still pretty quiet. Note that when the fan stops, you cannot rely on the information GPU-Z displays because this tool gives different values for fan speed even if it’s not turning.

The fan needs 4 minutes for the Hybrid Freezer to cool it from 79 °C to 39 °C

The GeForce 9600 GT (G94) supports Shader Model 4.0 and DirectX 10. MSI equipped our test sample with 1 GB of DDR3 graphics memory, which doesn’t really give you any advantages at resolutions of up to 1920x1200 pixels without anti-aliasing (AA). When you have anti-aliasing on, the performance of the graphics chip falls below playable levels, although you can measure an increase in performance from 5 to 7.5 fps in Crysis due to the large memory. If you want to run two GeForce 9600 GT cards in SLI mode, you should go with the 1 GB version, as the larger memory ceiling has more of an effect on performance due to the higher GPU power.

The standard clock speeds for the 9600 GT are 650 MHz for the GPU, memory at 900 MHz, and shader clocks at 1,625 MHz. MSI sets the GPU speed at 700 MHz, the shader speed at 1,680 MHz, and the memory speed remains at 900 MHz. The clock speeds are set in the BIOS and therefore can be used with any driver version. In our test, this lightly overclocked card performs 4% better than the standard card. If you want to overclock the memory and shader even more, you can gain another 4% with a 3 GHz CPU. The memory chips are not cooled by the cooler, so if you do overclock, you should keep an eye on chip temperatures.

MSI puts cables, adapters and games in the packageThe cooling concept is called Hybrid Freezer

SLI connectors and 2-pin connectors for SPDIF audioThe power is supplied via a 6-pin PCIe plug

The memory is not cooled; the cooler is only for the GPU1 GB of graphics memory is soldered on the other side

The cooler is two slots highThe card is 9” (23 cm) long

It has a video port and two DVI ports

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48 comments
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  • So it beats the GTX eh? And you can find brand new nVidia drivers, but no ATI ones? And wheres the 4670? Got halfway thru, decided to skip the rest
    3
  • What about the HD 4850? It costs less than the "last 8800 GTS 512's"
    Asus sells them for what? 170 dollars,free shipping on Newegg?
    Maybe I even saw one @ 160...
    6
  • Why would anyone get an 8800GTS for $179 when you can buy a better performing HD 4850, for LESS money??? ATI still exists, you know...
    2
  • No offense, as the article and tests run were good (I especially like the overall FPS charts), but this information would have been more pertinent, like, 6 months ago.
    3
  • Uh, I don't get what the people about are upset for. It's a good article, I enjoyed reading and seeing where these cards fit into the scheme of things. I know ATI has made a comeback with their recent cards but until their drivers are completely open and stable I'll stick with nVidia myself so I especially enjoyed this article. Thanks Toms!
    -4
  • Waste of 3 mins, it makes very little sense, the 9600 GTs in sli are around the 280 GTX in performance, yet it manages to get destroyed by the 4870.

    This article would've meant something around the time the cards came out...now I'd much rather like to see the 4850 cards compared or 260s or w.e else that is this gen.
    -2
  • NivaUh, I don't get what the people about are upset for. It's a good article, I enjoyed reading and seeing where these cards fit into the scheme of things. I know ATI has made a comeback with their recent cards but until their drivers are completely open and stable I'll stick with nVidia myself so I especially enjoyed this article. Thanks Toms!


    Exactly what is open about nvidia's drivers?
    0
  • nobody reads the introduction anymore?
    0
  • warms my heart to see the old 8800GTX included in this test list.

    It's amazing this ancient cards at default speed still sit in the middle of the pack and quickly rise to the top when you turn up AA and texture quality up, beating most every other card cept for 260GTX and SLI and CF rigs.

    It also explains why a pair of old 8800GTX's in SLI OC'ed to at least Ultra speeds on a fast rig are still very hard to out perform by any single card (period)
    5
  • There is a reason to get the 9600GT over the 8800GT, power consumption. Look at the numbers, the 9600GT has 1/2 the number of shaders (hence a smaller die). I know the shader clock runs a little faster but a good quality stock PSU with 300W (real, like antec, corsair, etc) should be fine for running it.
    0
  • The 8800GTS/512 is still a top performer...not bad for a "two" generations old card, if you believe the marketing.

    I am a loyal Nvidia customer and I wont touch the GTX280. I am patiently waiting for the GeForce 11 series.
    0
  • Why doesn't Tom's use the 9800GTX+ in these benchmarks? All we ever see are scores for the slower, now defunct 9800GTX.
    3
  • 9600 GT...I got nothing.
    -3
  • hey pepelan what kind MANURFACTURING problems are their!??!! I have a old geforce 2 gts and it has worked every day...day in and day out for ever. And I also have a geforce 4200ti same thing. last time i checked nvidia did'nt make hardware. so dont say nvidia makes bad "HARDWARE" cause they dont. i have 2 8800gt's and theve worked flawlessly! my friend buys ati cards and they suck hard...he's bought like 5 of them then bought a nvidia card and no problems after that! this is a great article
    -7
  • Computerningja, you are such a tool. Nvidia does make hardware: It's called a graphics card you dunce. Don't believe me? Check this out:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_hardware

    Right there on the list of types of hardware are video cards. I will agree, Nvidia DOES NOT have any glaring manufacturing flaws, but neither does ATI as you suggest through your friends experience. So he bought five ATI cards and none worked? Please. And no, this is not a great article. Why would I care about the negligible performance difference between four different brands of the same old card? This would only have been helpful six months ago.
    -3
  • NivaUh, I don't get what the people about are upset for. It's a good article, I enjoyed reading and seeing where these cards fit into the scheme of things. I know ATI has made a comeback with their recent cards but until their drivers are completely open and stable I'll stick with nVidia myself so I especially enjoyed this article. Thanks Toms!


    I ran an ATI Radeon 9800XT for 3 years and never had problems with their driver suite. I had a much more enjoyable experience with the ATI card than my current 7800GT card.

    And yes I would buy the 4850 over the 9600GT, 8800GT and 8800GTS.
    1
  • Bought a 9600GT from NewEgg for $99 bucks with free shipping. I had trouble finding solid benchmark comparisons. Here they are. I was beginning to doubt my purchase. Tried Assassins Creed on my 8600GT this card is much better. Tried Crysis, but that game is only good to make you kick yourself for any card purchase. Thanks Tom.
    1
  • Thanks for the article, I appreciate all of the testing. I would have liked to have seen the 4670 included as well, though, considering it's the direct parallel to the 9600GT for price.
    4
  • I would like to say I appreciate throwing the 3850 256mb in there. Got mine after they just came out when it was impossible to find a 3870 anywhere..for weeks... I appreciate it because I know exactly how far behind my graphics solution is. Just upgraded cpu, mobo, and RAM. HDD, and Vid card soon to follow.
    1
  • Long Live ATI HD48** Series :D and this article is outdated! Why didn't you review Geforce MX? Boring Toms, Really, I Mean it!

    oh, and why fight? we just want better hardwares for lesser money... calm down buddies...
    -1