ZOTAC 9600 GSO 384MB Graphics Card

We look at our second 9600GSO, but this one carries with it stock clocks and 384MB of memory. Let's see how it goes.
@ShawnBakerTW
Published Mon, Jul 21 2008 11:00 PM CDT   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Rating: 86%Manufacturer: ZOTAC

Introduction


ZOTAC 9600 GSO 384MB



The 9600 GSO has been out for a while now, but we haven't really seen many of them around. The first one we saw was from Palit and carried with it a large 768MB of memory with quite a hefty overclock to boot. At the same time, it did have some issues in our test bed. While we loved the card, we probably didn't really get to have as close a look as we normally would.

We all know that the 9600 GSO is nothing more than an 8800 GS with a new name, but how does the card sit in the current market? Is it something worth considering or should we just opt for the slightly more expensive 9600GT?

Before we get into the performance of the card, let's see what ZOTAC has done with the card and its bundle.

The Package




It's been a while since we've seen anything mid-range from ZOTAC, but as you can see, for this particular model they use a smaller box that sits upright. Across the top of the box we have the brand in clear text while the bottom gives us the model.

ZOTAC 9600 GSO 384MB


In the middle of the box we some of the main features for the card like 384MB of GDDR3 memory, two Dual-Link DVI connectors, low noise cooling, DVI Audio and more.

ZOTAC 9600 GSO 384MB


Turning the box over, ZOTAC give us a bit of a blurb on the 9600 GSO. Below that we have some of the main features of the card along a diagram explaining what you need to make use of SLI. The bottom half of the box lets us know what's included in the package in a number of languages.

ZOTAC 9600 GSO 384MB


Inside the box we have quite a few cables for a mid-range card. Along with the standard ones like molex to PCI Express power connector, component/s-video out dongle and DVI to VGA connector, we also have a DVI to HDMI connector and a loop back cable that gets audio through the DVI to HDMI connector.

ZOTAC 9600 GSO 384MB


Paperwork wise, we have a user manual and quick install guide. We also have a driver CD along with a ZOTAC sticker you can place on the front of your case.

The Card




Out of the box the card looks quite similar to the 9600GT with a cooler that takes up the majority of the card. We can see that ZOTAC has placed their own sticker over the card which lets you know who it came from and what exactly it is.

ZOTAC 9600 GSO 384MB


Looking around the card, we have a single 6-pin PCI Express power connector located at the back of the card, much like the 9600GT.

ZOTAC 9600 GSO 384MB


ZOTAC 9600 GSO 384MB


Towards the front of the card we have a single SLI connector along with another connector that is used for the loop back cable provided in the box. You only need to use this connector if you're going to use the DVI to HDMI adapter and want sound through it.

ZOTAC 9600 GSO 384MB


The I/O department doesn't give us anything we haven't seen before; we have a single TV-out port along with two Dual-Link DVI connectors. Like most mid-range cards it only takes up a single slot.


Specifications

While most of the time we see overclocked cards from ZOTAC, this particular one carries with it just standard clocks which is 550MHz on the core, 1375MHz on the shader clock and 1600MHz DDR on the 384MB of GDDR3.

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 175.19


Today we'll be looking at the stock clocked 9600 GSO against the stock clocked 9600GT to see what kind of difference we have. The last time we looked at a 9600 GSO, it was the overclocked 768MB which performed almost in line with the 9600GT. Let's see how the smaller memory stock clocked card goes today.


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 worldwide standard in advanced 3D game performance benchmarking. A fundamental tool for every company in the PC industry as well as PC users and gamers, 3DMark06 uses advanced real-time 3D game workloads to measure PC performance using a suite of DirectX 9 3D graphics tests, CPU tests, and 3D feature tests.

3DMark06 tests include all new HDR/SM3.0 graphics tests, SM2.0 graphics tests, AI and physics driven single and multiple cores or processor CPU tests and a collection of comprehensive feature tests to reliably measure next generation gaming performance today.




In our first test we can see across the board the 9600 GSO trails the 9600GT by about 10%.

Benchmarks - 3DMark Vantage


3DMark Vantage

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmarkvantage/
Buy It Here




3DMark Vantage is the new industry standard PC gaming performance benchmark from Futuremark, newly designed for Windows Vista and DirectX10. It includes two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, and support for the latest hardware.

3DMark Vantage is based on a completely new rendering engine, developed specifically to take full advantage of DirectX10, the new graphics API from Microsoft.




Still under 3DMark, we see again the 9600 GSO sits behind the 9600GT by about 10%.

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.






PT Boats paints an entirely different picture with the 9600 GSO sitting significantly behind the 9600GT here.

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).




Under CINEBENCH we can see the two cards perform very close to each other.

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.






Looking at our first real world game, we see the 9600 GSO sits 5% to 15% behind the 9600GT, depending on the resolution.

Benchmarks - Crysis


Crysis

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.2.1
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.




Crysis shows both cards sitting quite close together; the difference continues to be about 10% with the 9600GT coming out on top.

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.




Under UT3 we see the 9600 GSO again sit behind the 9600GT slightly. We're getting pretty playable frame rates even at 1920 x 1200 here.

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 sit about 15% behind the 9600GT here.


World In Conflict





World in Conflict sees a fair gap between the two cards in the average department.

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 worldwide standard in advanced 3D game performance benchmarking. A fundamental tool for every company in the PC industry as well as PC users and gamers, 3DMark06 uses advanced real-time 3D game workloads to measure PC performance using a suite of DirectX 9 3D graphics tests, CPU tests, and 3D feature tests.

3DMark06 tests include all new HDR/SM3.0 graphics tests, SM2.0 graphics tests, AI and physics driven single and multiple cores or processor CPU tests and a collection of comprehensive feature tests to reliably measure next generation gaming performance today.




Loading up XP, we again see that 10% gap between the two cards.

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).




CINEBENCH under XP actually sees the GSO considerably faster than the GT.

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.





WIC performance under XP is also very similar with the two cards. The GSO scores the same or just slightly behind for the most part.

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 paints a similar picture to our Vista tests with the GSO performing behind the GT, but still being able to push out over 55FPS at 1920 x 1200.

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 more powerful 9600GT runs a good chunk hotter than the GSO.


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 between the two cards are very similar.

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.




We can also see that the power draw between the two cards are similar with the GSO using slightly more power at idle than the GT.

Final Thoughts




The 9600GT and 9600 GSO continue to remain extremely close in pricing. The thing is that while the 9600 GT is 20% more expensive than the GSO, it's only $20 AUD more. However, the 9600GT for the most part is really only 10% faster than the 9600 GT.

The 9600GT does have the added advantage of extra memory, but you could get the 768MB version of the GSO which has more memory than the 9600GT and for roughly the same price; give or take $5.

It's all very confusing really. If you throw overclocking into the mix, the 9600 GSO is able to outperform the 9600GT for the most part. So what do you buy? - On a whole, the 9600 GSO is actually a pretty good buy. Like we said, it's 20% cheaper and only 10% slower than the 9600GT. If you feel like spending some extra dollars, however, you could go the 9600GT or even the 9600 GSO 768MB if you love lots of memory.

All in all, the 9600 GSO ZOTAC card is a good card and represents some excellent value for money. Performance on the most part is only just behind the 9600GT and availability on the model is good as well. If you want to do a bit of mid-res gaming and don't have a load of money to spend, the 9600 GSO is going to be a good choice.

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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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