XFX GeForce 9600GT XXX Alpha Dog Edition

Who let the dogs out? We check out the XXX Alpha Dog 9600GT from XFX and see if its bark's worse than its bite.
@ShawnBakerTW
Published Thu, May 29 2008 11:00 PM CDT   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Rating: 87%Manufacturer: XFX

Introduction





It has been a while since we've seen anything from XFX, but they're back today with a 9600GT. This particular model we're looking at isn't any ordinary 9600GT, it's the XXX Alpha Dog Edition which sits at the absolute top of the food chain in the world of 9600GTs.

We've looked at so many 9600GT cards over the months that getting one which stands out from the pack isn't an easy task these days. We'll have to see if XFX is just offering a big overclock and nothing more, or if they can actually do something that makes them stand out from the pack that bit more.

Before we get into the clock speeds, let's check out the very cool box and what's inside it.

The Package




Checking out the box, we can see a pretty cool theme going on with the front of it. The top left corner has the XFX logo and name while the center of the card has a giant 9. Around that we have pullets and other cool looking things going on. The top right corner of the box makes mention of Company of Heroes being included along with a HDMI adapter.



Moving down the box we can see mention that this is an Alpha Dog XXX Edition card along with some NVIDIA logos and mention of the very high 740MHz core clock speed. Below all this we have the model number along with the fact that we have 512MB of GDDR3 memory.



Turning the box over, we continue to see the cool theme going on along with mention of some of the NVIDIA technology, a bit of a blurb and a picture of the card. Across the bottom of the card we have the XFX website and the normal array of logos.





In the cable department we have an S-Video out cable, HDMI loop back audio cable, Molex to PCI Express, two DVI to VGA connectors, a single DVI to HDMI connector and a component out dongle box.



The paper department has a quick install guide, a rundown on what the connectors on the card are, an important tips and techniques guide along with a cool sign that hangs off your door handle which is something we haven't seen in a graphics card bundle before.



Along with the normal driver CD we also have a full version copy of Company of Heroes, which while being a little old now is still pretty cool if you're into that kind of RTS style game.

The bundle included is one of the richer ones that we've seen for a while. Let's check out the card and see what's going on in that department.

The Card




Upon pulling the card out of the box we're taken back to the older smaller cooler that we saw on some of the 7600GT cards two generations back. The good news however is that if you look carefully, you can see that it's a copper base meaning it has had a bit of an upgrade.



The biggest problem with the smaller coolers is that they tend not to cool as well and the smaller fan used normally spins faster which means it's louder. Hopefully we don't run into this problem though.





While we do have the standard PCI Express power connector at the back of the card and the single SLI connector at the top, we also have a metal strip that goes across the top of the card. What this does is prevent the card from bending and is supposed to make sure that nothing happens to the SLI connector. While this is all good and well, we've got to say that the bracket just makes the card look cool, if not anything else.



Moving to the I/O side of things; while there isn't anything out of the ordinary with our two Dual Link DVI connectors and single TV-Out port, the overall green and black theme that is going on does make it again stand out when compared to the competition.


Specifications

As far as specifications go, XFX mean some serious business with a 740MHz core clock which equates to a whopping 1750MHz Shader clock. Don't worry though, XFX hasn't stopped there and have chosen to increase the 512MB of GDDR3 memory to 2000MHz DDR.

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 SP1
Drivers: Forceware 174.53 (9 Series), Forceware 169.25 (8 Series)


With the XFX 9600GT in hand and its massive overclock, we will see how the card fairs against the stock clocked 9600GT and the stock clocked 8800GT 1GB from ASUS.


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 the massive clocks from XFX putting the card at very similar performance to the 8800GT 1GB from ASUS.

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.






Moving to PT Boats, we continue to see just how close the highly overclocked 9600GT can perform to the stock clocked 1GB 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).




Moving to CINEBENCH and we can see that the XFX 9600GT does stand out a bit here when compared to our other offerings.

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.






Checking out WIC we can see that the big overclock isn't as helpful with the card performing similar to the stock clocked 9600GT.

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.




While we can see that the 9600GT from XFX does get a nice little gain over the stock clocked offering, this is the first time where the 8800GT has been able to sustain a decent lead.

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.




With UT3 fired up we can see massive gains again for the overclocked 9600GT when compared to the stock clocked 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, we can see that the 9600GT from XFX is again right behind the more expensive 8800GT 1GB.


World In Conflict





With AA and AF on, we see that all three cards perform very close to each other.

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.




With Vista out the way it's time to check out XP, and we can see again the good gains from XFX. The 8800GT 1GB does however manage to stay ahead, like we've seen all along.

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).




Unlike our Vista tests we see the XFX 9600GT sit at the back of the pack 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.





Again under WIC we see that there is no performance gain with the overclocked offering.

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.




Under XP we don't see the massive gains for the XFX offering like we did under Vista.

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 smaller fan on the card means temperatures are a little higher.


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 smaller fan really is a loud one, coming in at over 70dB.

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 figures pretty much sit in line with the standard 9600GT.

Final Thoughts




The 9600GT from XFX is nothing short of blistering fast. It's really able to nip at the heels of the more expensive 8800GT 1GB most of the time. Performance is what this card is all about and it does a damn good job at it. What's also surprising is the impressive bundle; with a full version copy of Company of Heroes and a few extra goodies it really does stand out from the pack.

Not everything is perfect with the card though; the aftermarket cooler is loud and doesn't cool as well as the stock ones. If XFX wanted to stay with a single slot design, we probably would have opted to stay with the reference cooler which is pretty good.

The other downfall to the product is the price; it's one of the most expensive 9600GT cards on the market. Only you will be able to justify the cost to performance. For the price, you're entering the realm of 512MB 8800GTs with stock clocks.

There's no doubt however that if you're looking for the fastest 9600GT on the market, this is the card to get. We do wonder though that at this price point your money may possibly be better spent on a different model.

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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.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.
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