Galaxy 9600 GT 512MB OC Video Card Review

Videocards/VGA Reviews by geoffrey @ 2008-02-26

Galaxy is launching a very different 9600 GT, featuring a custom board design, dual slot cooler, two BIOS and windows flash tool, it is geared toward the enthusiasts out there. This sample comes factory overclocked we compare its performance to a reference 9600 GT video card, as well as a 8800 GT, 8800 GTS and AMD´s pride: HD3870. Read on to find out of this product is the best mainstream card out there!

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Galaxy 9600GT 512MB OC: inside the box

Inside the box

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  • Galaxy 9600GT 512MB
  • S-Video cable
  • DVI -> VGA adapter
  • S-Video -> Component adapter
  • 6-pin PCIe to molex power cable converter
  • Driver CD, manual and quick install guide
  • Galaxy Xtreme Tuner software and manual


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  • NVIDIA 65nm G94-A1 core
    - core clock: 675MHz
    - shader clock: 1625MHz
  • Samsung 512Mb (8x64Mb) GDDR3 with 256 bit interface
    - Memory clock: 1000MHz
  • active fan cooled, dual slot aluminium solution
  • 2x Dual Link DVI
  • native HDMI support
  • TV-out
  • Integrated HDTV decoder
  • 2-way SLI ready
  • PCI-Express 2.0 16x
  • Dimensions: 21,5cm x 11cm

    First impressions

    Galaxy is the first samples that hit my doorstep, being standard overclocked this card should perform in between the standard 9600 GT and the higher priced 8800 GT. As overclocking has become an important factor in the computer market, Galaxy wanted to make sure that their card was a strong one with lots of overclocking potential, the card is equipped with a dual slot cooling solution and a triple phase PWM module.

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    The front-end holds place for two DVI-I connectors and one 7-pins (HD)TV-out connector. Dual link DVI is supported which means you can use resolutions up to 2560x1600 per DVI connector. HDMI is also supported, but unfortunately we did not found HDMI outputs or adapters. Besides this, the GeForce 9600 GT also supports HDCP protected media, while the analogue TV-out connector is HDTV, S-video, Component and Composite compatible up to 1080i resolutions (1920x1080).

    The dual slot heatsink certainly drew my attention; many 9600's will come with only a single slot cooling solution. Despite that fact, Galaxy did not overvolt their GPU's to further increase clock speeds, this we managed to do this ourselves but we'll come back on that later on. There is one downside with using this heatsink. As you can see, it is a dual slot Aluminum sink but Galaxy did not add the ventilation holes for the 2nd PCI slot, this well keep the heated air inside your housing and cause higher temperatures and maybe a higher noise ratio. It should still outperform many single slot cooling solutions, but I find it pity that they didn't make the effort to actually exhaust the heated air outside the pc housing. In our test config, the pc housing has pre-applied ventilation spaces even in the empty PCI brackets, a small tip to everybody out there would be to just take out the PCI bracket which could not be used, it will not have an influence on the amount of dust in your pc housing and neither will it have a negative effect on case ventilation.

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    The Galaxy 9600 GT is, like any other 9600 GT, equipped with an extra 6-pin power connector. Even though it has a PCIe 2.0 interface the extra power connector is still mandatory to make the card compatible with older PCI Express mainboards. Above, you have a clear view at the PCI-Express 2.0 interface and the single SLI connector which allows using two 9600 GT 512MB in SLI. Those using up-to-date chipsets will have the benefits that PCIe 2.0 offers: double peer-to-peer bandwidth. The PCI-Express 2.0 interface is backwards compatible with previous generation PCIe specifications, and neither did the slot size change so you will not have any issue's using this card on older mainboards, you will only have 2,5Gb/s bandwidth instead of the 5Gb/s PCI-E 2.0 offers.

    The back side of the board shows SMD components of which many are used for bus terminology. On the left side you get a first glimpse of the three phase power circuit.

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    The heatsink is hold by only 4 screws, removing takes just a few seconds; underneath you get something like this:

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    Between the heatsink and GPU Galaxy used silver based thermal paste; the memory modules were given thermal pads in order to make contact with the main aluminum heatsink. The pads are of decent quality and don't leave any residue like with the GeForce 8800 cards. You'll also find a second smaller aluminum heatsink covering the power mosfets. This heatsink is hold by two springs but thermal tape has been added in order to get a good contact with the mosfet in even the hardest situations. As far as I could test those, the tape did not loose it grip even with the springs detached, I actually found it dangerous to take this heatsink of because it stuck so well.

    Near the mosfets you'll spot three coils each rated for 50A. Unfortunately, I measured how one of the three PWM phases is actually used for the memory chips; this leaves the other two phases for the G94 GPU. GPU and memory voltage are stabilized and filtered with high size dry (solid) capacitors combined with small SMD ceramic capacitors, this should be sufficient for the GPU which requires less then 1,2V.

    Also notice how every feature has been implemented inside the GPU, you will not find any extra decoding chip on the Galaxy 9600 GT.

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    The G94-300 core, A1 revision, containing 505 million transistors. Build on the Unified Shader Architecture, this GPU counts 64 stream processors.Samsung K4J52324QE-BJ1A Graphic DDR SDRAM of the third generation. Maximum rated at 1000MHz at 1,9V, this RAM should yield quite well in our overclocking experiments as Gigabyte actually feeds it with 2V.

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    Aiming for the overclockers, the techs at Galaxy added a nifty overclocking tool which allows everybody out there to adjust their product performance onto the very best it could ever offer. Called Xtreme Tuner, this tool comes with a catchy but easy understandable interface, and inside you'll find many of the great overclocking options which could also be found in the freeware Rivatuner software. Besides the possibility's to reprogram fan speed, tweak GPU core/shader/memory clocks, and monitor different inputs like GPU core temperature this add-on program also gives the user the possibility's to easily flash the VGA BIOS in windows, no other up-to-date software package is able to do that at the moment of writing. More info can be found here.

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    Talking about flashing the VGA bios, the Galaxy 9600 GT OC is equipped with dual BIOS storage chips. This feature may be very handy whenever things went wrong badly, the second BIOS will be used whenever the card fails in initializing the system boot, and some of you will highly appreciate this feature for sure.
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    Comment from geoffrey @ 2008/02/29
    During my test period I did notice strange behavior with the 9600GT's I was testing. Unfortunately, my available time is very limited and I did not have the time to go too much in depth with what was causing problems on my current setup.

    The problem was that one of the standard overclocked cards became instable whenever being put through heavy 3D rendering tasks, downclocking it solved the problem so I guessed we got stuck up with a bugged card (remember the news regarding transient voltage fix on 9600GT's).

    Now, nearly one week after launch date, there seems to be something sneaky going on with NV9600 series. NVIDIA has changed the ways clocks are being build up. Earlier, a 27MHz crystal was used, the clock frequency got multiplied and devided until you get the final clockspeed, 650MHz for example. With GeForce 9600GT the GPU core frequency is based on the PCIe speed, the downside here is that my system always is configured with a 110MHz PCIe clock, making the 9600GT used in our article extra overclocked by another 10%!

    So... let me warn you here: the results obtained in our article are based on a system using 110MHz PCI-Express clock instead of 100MHz, this difference stands for a 10% overclock on the 9600GT core clock and will have its impact on total system performance.

    This being said, we will fix our way of testing in upcoming articles. Those who are still puzzled, don't hesitate to ask around what I was trying to explain here above, but I insist you have a read at our source, thank you techPowerUp!