Palit GeForce 9600GT Sonic Graphics Card

We have always loved Palit's Sonic cards and we are confident this will carry through to their latest GeForce 9600GT.

@ShawnBakerTW
Published Wed, Feb 27 2008 11:00 PM CST   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:04 PM CST
Rating: 96%Manufacturer: Palit

Introduction





Palit are back at it again with another Sonic model, and in this case it comes in the form of a 9600GT which has just been released. The 9600GT is the latest card to come out of the NVIDIA camp and seems to sit in the market place in a bit of a weird position.

We had a look at the Galaxy card just last week and we can conclude that the card isn't your standard mid-range performer. It seems to sit just behind the 8800GT and around the same performance as the HD 3870.

As with all Sonic models from Palit this card comes out with an increased core and memory clocks so we'll just have to see how it goes today against the competition. But before we check that out, we of course need to have a look at the package and card which should prove to be very good. It's clearly got some stand out features; what are they? Well, there's only one way to find out and that's by moving forward.

The Palit 9600GT could be one of the best graphics cards we've seen to date, so let's see if first impressions hold up as we get stuck straight into it.

The Package




Woohoo! FroBot is back! - I don't know what it is about the little guy, but he's one of the coolest graphics card mascots around. Maybe it's because he doesn't try to be pretentious with a 2" waist and 20" boobs. Either way, we love the frog!



Apart from the cool looking frog on the front of the box we have the normal details displayed. There is a sticker in the bottom right corner that gives us all the main details on the card while around the rest of the box we have our other logos like NVIDIA, HDCP, Vista and more. The bottom left hand corner also gives us a sticker that makes note of the fact that Tomb Raider Anniversary is included within the package.



Turning the box over we have some more details in a multitude of languages. Across the bottom we have the website link along with some more logos that coincide with the technology on offer in the card.



Moving inside the package we have some cables that we aren't used to seeing. Along with the standard DVI to VGA connector and Molex to PCI Express connector we have with us another cable that connects between your sound card and video card, along with a toslink cable as well.



Diving deeper in the package we have a quick installation guide, Driver CD and a copy of Tomb Raider Anniversary. The package isn't too bad but what will be interesting is why we have a toslink cable. We'll find out in a minute.

The Card




With the box out the way it's time to move onto the actual card, and it's another one that chooses not to use the standard cooler. Palit has gone for a gold cooler that takes up two slots and has an integrated plate that sits over the top of the memory.



This isn't the first time we've seen this cooler and it tends to be the cooler of choice for Palit's Sonic line-up of cards.





Having a look around the card there isn't anything too out of the ordinary when it comes down to it. The back of the card has a single PCI Express power connector while across the top of the card we see a single SLI connector meaning that the card won't support Tri-SLI. Next to the SLI connector we can also see another little white plug; this is used to hook up to your sound card.



This is where the card begins to get really interesting. Normally we would just find an overclock on the Sonic line-up of cards, but they seem to have gone well and above the call of duty on this one. We have the standard two Dual Link DVI connectors. We also have with it a HDMI port for people wanting to make use of what is considered one of the best connections currently available for home theater enthusiasts.

Also included is a S/PDIF port. The way this works is if your computer has an optical port on it you can use the provided cable and output the audio from your motherboard or sound card and into the graphics card. That way you can have the audio going out the HDMI port and needing only a single cable to go to your AMP or TV.

If that wasn't enough for you, Palit have also included display port which seems to be the next logical step for DVI. We've seen Dell release a 24" and 30" monitor with the connection, and we should see more and more companies jump on it soon.


Specifications

With the card being a Sonic model it comes as no surprise that it's overclocked.



As you can see above, the core comes in at 700MHz while the memory comes clocked in at 2000MHz. The clocks aren't too bad at all and we will see how it translates today.

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 Palit 9600GT Sonic against the overclocked model from Galaxy we saw the other week, along with the Leadtek 8800GT just for comparisons sake.

We won't go into too much detail in regards to our test system as we've pretty much covered it and the games that we're now testing. So with that said, let's just 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.




Straight away we can see nice gains over the overclocked Galaxy model.

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.






The gains continue to be seen under our PT Boats benchmark. At the highest resolution we can see the cards sit quite close together though, this including the 8800GT.

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 continue to see good gains from the Palit Sonic offering over the Galaxy model which is also overclocked.

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.




Moving over to our first real world gaming benchmark we can see the gains are shown at all resolutions on the Palit offering.

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.






The Palit manages to break that 30FPS minimum at the lowest resolution, and continues to keep a lead against the overclocked offering from Galaxy.

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.




We continue to see the performance increase from the overclocked Palit offering against the Galaxy OC model.

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 Palit card comes out ahead at the top and bottom resolution while at the middle resolution it seemed to sit back a little.

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.




The overclocked Sonic from Palit manages to just sit behind the more powerful 8800GT and continues to beat out the Galaxy 9600GT OC offering.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF


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



Turning on AA and AF doesn't affect the Palit offering at all, and it continues to come out ahead of the Galaxy with no dramas at all.


Half Life 2 (Episode Two HDR)



Moving to Episode Two we see the Galaxy come out ahead. This isn't all that unusual as overclocking seems to sometimes have some reverse effects on source based games.


World In Conflict





We can see the overclocked Palit 9600GT manages to score up around the same as the Leadtek 8800GT. You would still need to bump some of the settings down though, this in order to get a playable setup with any form of AA.

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.




Moving over to Windows XP we see the higher clocked Palit continues to have no issues beating out the Galaxy 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).




We again see the Palit come out ahead. We can see though that there isn't a big difference between the three cards and the 8800GT sits back slightly 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 that the Palit offering is just able to beat out the Galaxy offering, though it sits 1 FPS behind at 1600 x 1200 in the minimum FPS score.

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.




Performance gains across the board here; the overclocked Palit card once again beats out the overclocked Galaxy at all resolutions.

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.



We continue to see the gains for the Palit offering in our final real world game test.

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 aftermarket dual slot cooler from Palit manages to be the coolest out of the batch, significantly cooler compared to the Galaxy in fact.


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).




The increased cooling doesn't come at any real cost of noise. It puts out similar levels to the stock Leadtek Zalman cooler and is also quieter then the Galaxy aftermarket option.

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.




In our last test we see the Palit 9600GT power levels come in at the lowest.

Final Thoughts




This card really looked good as soon as we pulled it out of the box. For starters, you get display galore; Dual Link DVI, HDMI, Display port and your standard TV-Out port. The cooler is also tried and tested with previous models and runs like a dream. If that doesn't do it for you we also have a copy of Tomb Raider Anniversary to keep you occupied.

Now, if features don't do it for you we have a nice overclock out of the box which really lets the card scream along when compared to the Galaxy 9600GT which is also overclocked.

This card is just truly kick ass, and Palit have gone out of the way to offer something that stands out from the competition. There is no doubt that this card has the potential to sell well, and with the aggressive pricing we see from Palit the card would suit everyone from a person who enjoys gaming to someone who wants to be display-proof to someone who's just looking for an awesome card to suit their HTPC which is also capable of doing a bit of gaming.

This card really sets the benchmark for the 9600GT and it's going to be hard to beat. Palit have done an excellent job of the card and no doubt it's going to be the card of choice for anyone who wants a card that offers an all round experience that covers everything from outputs to out of the box performance. The Palit 9600GT Sonic is probably going to be the card for you!

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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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