Test System Setup
Processor(s): Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 @ 3GHz (333MHz x 9)
Motherboard(s): GIGABYTE X48-DQ6 (Supplied by GIGABYTE)
Memory: 2 X 1GB Kingston PC6400 DDR-2 3-3-3-10 (KHX6400D2ULK2/2G) (Supplied by Kingston)
Hard Disk(s): Seagate 250GB 7200RPM SATA-2 7200.10 (Supplied by Seagate)
Operating System: Windows XP Professional SP2, Windows Vista SP1
Drivers: Catalyst 8.1, Forceware 174.11 (9600GT Win XP), Forceware 171.16 (9600GT Win Vista), Forceware 169.21 (8800GT Win XP) and Forceware 169.25 (8800GT Win Vista)
The test bed has gone through a complete overhaul recently, hence the reason for the slight delay between graphics card reviews. Fortunately it's now up and running faster than ever!
While the CPU has remained the same we have moved over to a PCI Express 2.0 motherboard with two PCI Express x16 slots in the form of the new GIGABYTE X48-DQ6. We've also moved back to DDR2, not for any particular reason except that ultimately there really is very little difference and most people are still using it. With that said though, we're using some nice low latency Kingston modules.
While we were at it we thought we may as well upgrade the hard drives to some new 7200.10 Seagate ones.
We've done a whole lot with the testing side of things as well; we have now made Vista our primary operating system, but we do realize that a number of people still use Windows XP so we've continued to include a number of benchmarks under that operating system.
Then there is of course the benchmarks themselves, there are more than ever now :-
3DMark05, F.E.A.R, Episode One, Prey, Company of Heroes, Call of Juarez and Lost Planet are all gone. Taking their place is CINEBENCH R10, PT Boats, Crysis, Unreal Tournament, Episode Two and Quake Wars. 3DMark08 (Vantage) will also make an appearance once it's released.
That covers just about everything related to the new test bed. Today we'll be comparing the 9600GT against the 8800GT and HD 3870, so let's not delay and get straight into it.
Version and / or Patch Used: Build 110
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark06/
3DMark06 is the very latest version of the "Gamers Benchmark" from FutureMark. The newest version of 3DMark expands on the tests in 3DMark05 by adding graphical effects using Shader Model 3.0 and HDR (High Dynamic Range lighting) which will push even the best DX9 graphics cards to the extremes.
3DMark06 also focuses on not just the GPU but the CPU using the AGEIA PhysX software physics library to effectively test single and Dual Core processors.
Straight off the mark we can see the 9600GT manages to perform quite well when compared to some of the current high-end cards. At the lowest resolution it manages to beat out the HD 3870, but as we climb up in the resolution department it manages to drop back a little.