The Competition, Continued
GeForce 9600 GSO
The GV-N96GMC-512H is an interesting flavor of 9600 GSO, equipped with the newer G94 revision of the GPU. This Gigabyte card is factory overclocked at 650 MHz GPU and 1,625 MHz shaders, compared to the reference 600 MHz GPU and 1,500 MHz shader clock rates. Even the 900 MHz GDDR3 memory is running faster than the 800 MHz reference speed. Add to this the widest memory interface in the bunch (256-bits), along with a completely silent passive cooler, and the GV-N96GMC-512H is a compelling option.
Diamond Radeon HD 4670
Diamond’s version of the Radeon HD 4670 sticks close to reference, with a 750 MHz core and 800 MHz memory (1,600 effective) clock. But it’s far from a pushover. Until now, the Radeon HD 4670 has been the most powerful reference graphics card you can get without a discrete power cable. And with 320 stream processors and GDDR3 memory, there's no doubt the new GeForce GT 220 has its work cut out for it if it wants to usurp the ATI board. As a side note, Diamond’s Radeon HD 4670 will underclock itself to 165 MHz GPU and 300 MHz memory at idle to save power.
GeForce 9500 GT GDDR3
Like all of Gigabyte’s GeForce models we’re looking at today, the GV-N95TD3-512I is factory overclocked. At 650 MHz GPU and 1,625 MHz shader speeds, this 9500 GT is notably faster than the 550 MHz GPU and 1,375 MHz shader reference speeds. The 800 MHz GDDR3 is quick for this class of card, notably quicker than the DDR2 versions of the 9500 GT, and the aftermarket cooler keeps the GPU nice and cool.
Sapphire Radeon HD 4650 DDR2
Sapphire's Radeon HD 4650 uses the reference 600 MHz GPU speed, but pushes the memory a little further at 500 MHz (100 MHz more than the reference clock rate). The GPU is the same 320 stream processor model used in the Radeon HD 4670, but with a lower clock speed and DDR2, instead of GDDR3, memory. Despite that disadvantage, this card’s powerful GPU allows it to perform well against the GeForce 9500 GT even when equipped with GDDR3 memory.
Diamond Radeon HD 4550
Diamond’s Radeon HD 4550 card represents the low-end of the Radeon lineup as competition for the GeForce 210. The GPU runs at its reference 600 MHz clock rate, but the memory is 50 MHz slower than the 800 MHz reference speed. This card's GDDR3 memory is still quite a bit faster than the GeForce 210’s 400 MHz DDR2, but is limited by a 64-bit memory bus. Like the GeForce 210, this Radeon HD 4550 can be converted to a half-height card if you're using it in an HTPC. Unlike the G 210 however, the Diamond's card is passively cooled and completely silent.