ZOTAC GeForce 9600GT 512MB AMP! Edition

In our second 9600GT review we see if the well increased clockspeeds of ZOTAC's AMP! Edition keep it ahead of the 3870.

@ShawnBakerTW
Published Wed, Feb 20 2008 11:00 PM CST   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:04 PM CST
Rating: 93%Manufacturer: ZOTAC

Introduction





ZOTAC really seem to be on top of the graphics card releases. We only started seeing their products last year but they seemed to get the hang of making a good graphics card pretty fast.

As with most companies they have their standard reference design card but they also have their funky overclocked models. Sure there are plenty of other manufacturers with OC models such as ASUS who have the TOP line-up of cards, while Palit have their Sonic line-up.

But what makes ZOTAC stand out so much with their AMP! line-up is that the clocks they tend to put on these cards are very aggressive and really make it stand out from the competition. We saw that the 9600GT from Galaxy performed around the same as a HD 3870 with stock clock speeds; with the increased clocks on the ZOTAC AMP! Edition 9600GT we will have to see if it can consistently take the lead.

The Package




The front of the box pretty much follows the same formula that we've seen over the past few months from ZOTAC. We see the brand at the top of the card with some NVIDIA logos and the model across the bottom.



The right of the box shows us the card is an AMP! Edition. We can also see some of the main features like 512MB of GDDR3 memory, Dual Dual-Link DVI, HDCP, HDMI adapter and more.



The back of the box mentions the brand and the fact that it's an AMP! Edition again. We also have a bit of a blurb on the 9600GT along with some more details of some of the features that the card has to offer.



Paperwork wise there isn't a whole lot; we have a quick installation guide along with a driver CD.



The cable department is a bit healthier though; we have the standard molex to PCI-E connector, DVI to VGA connector and component out cable. We also have a DVI to HDMI connector along with another cable that sits between your graphics card and soundcard or motherboard so that HDMI can be carried out through the HDMI convertor.

We continue to see the lack of any games bundled with the card, but ZOTAC continue to make the card stand out from the competition with big overclocks. We'll have a closer look at those shortly.

The Card




With the box out the way it's time to move onto the card, which when looking at it instantly resembles an 8800GT. We have the single slot cooler that manages to take up the whole front of the card with a largish fan sitting to the right.



The cooler has a giant sticker that goes all the way across and mentions the brand and model along with the fact that it's an AMP! Edition variant. The cooler really just reflects what we saw on the front of the box.





Moving around the card it's a pretty standard affair; we have a single PCI Express power connector that sits at the back of the card and as we move around to the top of the card we have a single SLI connector. Next to the SLI connector we can also see the little plug that the extra cable included in the package goes into.



Last but not least we move to the I/O side of things and we just have two Dual Link DVI connectors and a single TV-Out port.


Specifications

While we saw some pretty decent clocks on the Galaxy card, ZOTAC have really turned the amp dial to 11 on this card.



While both cards share the same 2000MHz memory clock, the ante is upped with the core and shader clock moving from 675MHz/1625MHz to 725MHz on the core and 1750MHz on the shader; quite an impressive jump indeed.

Test System Setup and 3DMark06


Test System Setup

Processor(s): Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 @ 3GHz (333MHz x 9)
Cooling: Corsair Nautilus500 (Supplied by Corsair) with Arctic Cooling MX-2 Thermal Compound (Supplied by Arctic Cooling)
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
Drivers: Catalyst 8.1, Forceware 174.11 (9600GT Win XP), Forceware 171.16 (9600GT Win Vista)

Today we'll be comparing the ZOTAC 9600GT AMP! Edition against a stock clocked HD 3870 and a stock clocked 8800GT to see how its clocks fair. We're continuing to use our new beefed up test bed with a whole lot of new games, so let's not delay and get stuck straight into it!


3DMark06

Version and / or Patch Used: Build 110
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark06/
Buy It Here





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.




We can see the heavily overclocked ZOTAC offering manages to keep right on the tail of the HD 3870 at the higher resolutions, while it just beats it out at the lower.

Benchmarks - PT Boats: Knights of the Sea


PT Boats: Knights of the Sea

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Developer Homepage: http://en.akella.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.pt-boats.net/





PT Boats: Knights of the Sea is a naval action simulator that places gamers in charge of a mosquito fleet of the Allied Forces, Russia or Germany during the height of World War II.

Using the latest Direct X 10 technology PT Boards - Knights of the Sea manages to apply a lot of stress to the components of today which in turn gives us quite an intensive benchmark.






In one of our newest benchmarks, PT Boats we can see that the 9600GT from ZOTAC is actually able to beat out the HD 3870 at all resolutions.

Benchmarks - CINEBENCH R10


CINEBENCH R10

Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10
Developer Homepage: http://www.maxon.net/
Product Homepage: http://www.maxon.net




CINEBENCH is a real-world test suite that assesses your computer's performace capabilities. MAXON CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software, CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.

MAXON CINEBENCH runs several tests on your computer to measure the performance of the main processor and the graphics card under real world circumstances. The benchmark application makes use of up to 16 CPUs or CPU cores and is available for Windows (32-bit and 64-Bit) and Macintosh (PPC and Intel-based).




We can see when we check out CINEBENCH R10 that the 9600GT from ZOTAC is again able to outpace the HD 3870.

Benchmarks - Half Life 2 (Episode Two HDR)


Half Life 2 (Episode Two HDR)

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest from Steam
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
Developer Homepage: http://www.valvesoftware.com
Product Homepage: http://www.half-life2.com
Buy It Here





By taking the suspense, challenge and visceral charge of the original, and adding startling new realism, responsiveness and new HDR technology, Half-Life 2 Episode Two opens the door to a world where the player's presence affects everything around him, from the physical environment to the behaviors even the emotions of both friends and enemies.

We benchmark Half Life 2 Episode Two with our own custom timedemos as to avoid possible driver optimizations using the "record demo_name" command and loading the timedemo with the "timedemo demo_name" command - For a full list of the commands, click here.




Normally we see the AMD offerings come out ahead in source based games, but in this case the 9600GT from ZOTAC is able to come out ahead at the higher resolution while at the lowest resolution it only just falls behind.

Benchmarks - World in Conflict


World in Conflict

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.5
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.massive.se
Product Homepage: http://www.worldinconflict.com





World in Conflict is a real-time strategy video game by Massive Entertainment and to be published by Sierra Entertainment for Windows (DX9 and DX10) and the Xbox 360.

The game is set in 1989 where economic troubles cripple the Soviet Union and threaten to dissolve it. However, the title pursues a "what if" scenario where, in this case, the Soviet Union does not collapse and instead pursues a course of war to remain in power. It is an intensive new game is sure to put plenty of stress on even the latest graphics cards and we use the built-in benchmarking for our testing.






We again see the 9600GT AMP! Edition from ZOTAC outperform the HD 3870 at all resolutions.

Benchmarks - Enemy Territory: Quake Wars


Enemy Territory: Quake Wars

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Version
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom time demo
Developer Homepage: http://www.splashdamage.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.enemyterritory.com/





Enemy Territory: Quake Wars is the latest Quake incarnation to make it out of the iD labs and carries with it a fast paced experience that manages to place a good amount of strain on your graphics card.

We use a custom made time demo which shows a bit of everything and manages to give us a good solid benchmark for the graphics cards that we test.




The OpenGL based Quake Wars also favors the NVIDIA based 9600GT with about a 10% increase in performance against the HD 3870.

Benchmarks - Crysis


Crysis

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom time demo
Developer Homepage: http://www.crytek.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.ea.com/crysis/
Buy It Here





From the makers of Far Cry, Crysis offers FPS fans the best-looking, most highly-evolving gameplay, requiring the player to use adaptive tactics and total customization of weapons and armor to survive in dynamic, hostile environments including Zero-G.

Real time editing, bump mapping, dynamic lights, network system, integrated physics system, shaders, shadows and a dynamic music system are just some of the state of-the-art features the CryENGINE 2 offers. The CryENGINE 2 comes complete with all of its internal tools and also includes the CryENGINE 2 Sandbox world editing system.




The super intensive Crysis also finds the ZOTAC overclocked 9600GT coming out ahead at all resolutions.

Benchmarks - Unreal Tournament 3


Unreal Tournament 3

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used:
Developer Homepage: http://www.epicgames.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.unrealtournament3.com/
Buy It Here





Following the formulae that made Unreal Tournament so great the third installment to the series has hit us recently with better than ever graphics. The games uses the latest Unreal Engine which like most modern day games when maxed out puts the pressure on our lineup of graphics cards.




Only at the highest resolution does the HD 3870 get a slight lead on the 9600GT from ZOTAC under Unreal Tournament 3, the lower resolutions find the 9600GT come out ahead.

High Quality AA and AF




Our high quality tests let us separate the men from the boys and the ladies from the girls. If the cards weren't struggling before they will start to now.


3DMark06



It comes as no surprise that when we move to testing with AA and AF on that the NVIDIA offerings come out ahead.


Half Life 2 (Episode Two HDR)



We can see under our source based game that only 2 FPS separates all cards.


World In Conflict





We again see the NVIDIA offerings come out way ahead under our high quality testing environment.

Benchmarks - 3DMark06 - XP


3DMark06

Version and / or Patch Used: Build 110
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark06/
Buy It Here





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.




Windows XP paints a similar picture with the AMP! Edition from ZOTAC beating out the HD 3870 at all resolutions.

Benchmarks - CINEBENCH R10 - XP


CINEBENCH R10

Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10
Developer Homepage: http://www.maxon.net/
Product Homepage: http://www.maxon.net




CINEBENCH is a real-world test suite that assesses your computer's performace capabilities. MAXON CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software, CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.

MAXON CINEBENCH runs several tests on your computer to measure the performance of the main processor and the graphics card under real world circumstances. The benchmark application makes use of up to 16 CPUs or CPU cores and is available for Windows (32-bit and 64-Bit) and Macintosh (PPC and Intel-based).




What's interesting is that under Windows XP the HD 3870 is able to perform better in CINEBENCH with it just being able to sneak ahead of the 8800 offerings here.

Benchmarks - World in Conflict - XP


World in Conflict

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.5
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.massive.se
Product Homepage: http://www.worldinconflict.com




World in Conflict is a real-time strategy video game by Massive Entertainment and to be published by Sierra Entertainment for Windows (DX9 and DX10) and the Xbox 360.

The game is set in 1989 where economic troubles cripple the Soviet Union and threaten to dissolve it. However, the title pursues a "what if" scenario where, in this case, the Soviet Union does not collapse and instead pursues a course of war to remain in power. It is an intensive new game is sure to put plenty of stress on even the latest graphics cards and we use the built-in benchmarking for our testing.





We again see in WIC the more important minimum FPS favors the 9600GT offering over the HD 3870.

Benchmarks - Unreal Tournament 3 - XP


Unreal Tournament 3

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used:
Developer Homepage: http://www.epicgames.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.unrealtournament3.com/
Buy It Here





Following the formulae that made Unreal Tournament so great the third installment to the series has hit us recently with better than ever graphics. The games uses the latest Unreal Engine which like most modern day games when maxed out puts the pressure on our lineup of graphics cards.




UT3 testing under Windows XP finds the ZOTAC 9600GT come out ahead at all resolutions when compared to the stock HD 3870.

Benchmarks - Half Life 2 (Episode Two HDR) - XP


Half Life 2 (Episode Two HDR)

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest from Steam
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
Developer Homepage: http://www.valvesoftware.com
Product Homepage: http://www.half-life2.com
Buy It Here





By taking the suspense, challenge and visceral charge of the original, and adding startling new realism, responsiveness and new HDR technology, Half-Life 2 Episode Two opens the door to a world where the player's presence affects everything around him, from the physical environment to the behaviors even the emotions of both friends and enemies.

We benchmark Half Life 2 Episode Two with our own custom timedemos as to avoid possible driver optimizations using the "record demo_name" command and loading the timedemo with the "timedemo demo_name" command - For a full list of the commands, click here.



Windows XP shows us the 9600GT is able to beat out the HD 3870 at all resolutions.

Temperature and Sound Tests


Temperature Tests



With the TES 1326 Infrared Thermometer literally in hand we found ourselves getting real-world temperatures from the products we test at load (3D clock speeds).

There are two places we pull temperature from - the back of the card directly behind the core and if the card is dual slot and has an exhaust point we also pull a temperate from there, as seen in the picture.




The card manages to come in slightly warmer then the 8800GT, but stays under the HD 3870.


Sound Tests



Pulling out the TES 1350A Sound Level Meter we find ourselves quickly yelling into the top of it to see how loud we can be.

After five minutes of that we get a bit more serious and place the device two CM away from the fan on the card to find the maximum noise level of the card when idle (2D mode) and in load (3D mode).




Noise levels are similar to the Leadtek card, though it does offer an aftermarket Zalman cooler against the stock cooler that we see on the ZOTAC offering.

Power Consumption Tests






Using our new PROVA Power Analyzer WM-01 or "Power Thingy" as it has become quickly known as to our readers, we are now able to find out what kind of power is being used by our test system and the associated graphics cards installed. Keep in mind; it tests the complete system (minus LCD monitor, which is plugged directly into AC wall socket).

There are a few important notes to remember though; while our maximum power is taken in 3DMark06 at the same exact point, we have seen in particular tests the power being drawn as much as 10% more. We test at the exact same stage every time; therefore tests should be very consistent and accurate.

The other thing to remember is that our test system is bare minimum - only a 7,200RPM SATA-II single hard drive is used without CD ROM or many cooling fans.

So while the system might draw 400 watts in our test system, placing it into your own PC with a number of other items, the draw is going to be higher.




Power levels between the cards are quite similar, although under load the 9600GT does draw the least.

Final Thoughts




ZOTAC really manage to kick it up a notch with the AMP! Edition of the 9600GT. We saw in the Galaxy review that the 9600GT was able to perform around the same as the HD 3870, sometimes a little slower and sometimes a little faster, but more often than not it seemed to struggle at the higher resolution.

With the decent performance bump that ZOTAC has offered here the card manages to almost consistently beat out the HD 3870. The good news is though, if you want to do a bit of overclocking yourself you should be able to get your card up to similar speeds of the ZOTAC, meaning that you should get something that is able to outperform the HD 3870 consistently.

While we again don't see the inclusion of a game in the package, it's not really a big deal; more often than not we see a game we don't really want in the package. What you get instead is a card that is able to stand out from the competition. We manage to see this over and over again from ZOTAC and it's why we've been so impressed with their products since the company launched.

This is a really winning formula and it will probably be one of the fastest 9600GT offerings we get our hands on. The only company that may bring something to compete with these speeds is ASUS with a TOP variation of the card, but only time will tell.

If you're not interested in overclocking yourself and you can hunt down an AMP! Edition 9600GT from ZOTAC we would highly recommend it for people looking for a card that should come in at under $250 AUD.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

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