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GeForce 9600 GT/GTS 250/GTX 260 Non-Reference Roundup

Gigabyte’s GV-N96TSL-1GI And GV-N96TZL-1GI: Identical PCBs And Overclocking

GV-N96TZL-1GI back

GV-N96TSL-1GI Back

These cards are both based on the same non-reference GeForce 9600 GT board unique to Gigabyte. At 8.5" long, the cards are a bit shorter than the reference 9600 GT, but they pack Gigabyte’s Ultra Durable VGA feature, which includes 2 oz. of copper on the PCB, Samsung or Hynix memory, Japanese solid capacitors, ferrite core chokes, and Low RDS (on) MOSFETs.  Gigabyte claims that Ultra Durable VGA offers a 5% to 10% lower GPU temperature, a 10% to 30% increase in overclocking capability, and a 10% to 30% reduction in power-switching loss compared to Nvidia’s reference model. If they turn out to be accurate, then we expect some cool temperatures and nice overclocks.

GV-N96TZL-1GI Outputs

GV-N96TZL-1GI side

Both of these cards have HDMI, VGA, and dual-link DVI outputs. Without two dual-link DVI outputs, though, these cards can’t run a pair of 30” 2650x1600 monitors at the same time. As with most cards, only two of the three video outputs can be used at the same time.

GV-N96TSL-1GI outputs

GV-N96TSL-1GI side

Neither of Gigabyte’s 9600 GT cards has memory heat sinks, but since the usefulness of memory heat sinks has always been questionable, we don't consider that a significant limitation. Speaking of memory, both cards come with 1 GB, which is twice what a garden-variety GeForce 9600 GT sports.

To provide auxiliary power to the card, these Gigabyte GeForce 9600 GT models require a six-pin PCIe connector, which is par for the course.

Overclocking the Gigabyte GeForce 9600 GT cards

Gigabyte offers a simple utility that it calls the "Gamer HUD."

The Gamer HUD has only three adjustable settings: GPU speed, shader speed, and memory clock speeds. There are also handy temperature- and GPU-usage readouts.

Using this utility, we managed to get the GV-N96SL-1GI overclocked to 815 MHz on the GPU, 1,810 MHz on the shaders, and 950 MHz (1,900 MHz DDR) on the memory. This is a respectable overclock, considering that this card has no active cooling fan.

As for the GV-N96ZL-1GI, we managed to up the ante a little, but not by much. Our final stable overclock was 820 MHz on the GPU, 1,820 MHz on the shaders, and 1,010 MHz (2,020 MHz DDR) on the memory. Essentially, the GPU/shader overclock was identical to that of the GV-N96SL-1GI, while the GV-N96ZL-1GI had more agreeable memory.