|Palit GeForce 9600 GT 1GB Sonic NE/960TSX0202|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Saturday, 31 May 2008|
Page 13 of 13
Palit NE/960TSX0202 Conclusion
Palit NE/960TSX0202 Conclusion
Since Palit hasn't been available to the North American market for very long, the new look may seem out of place at first. Each manufacturer spends a significant amount of time branding their name to an identity. For example: Gigabyte has a Final Fantasy-looking female heroine on their products, XFX has an armor clad Werewolf, and ZOTAC has a Dural look-alike from VirtuaFighter. So it might seem particularly interesting that Palit picked a frog; or a robo-frog to be more accurate. But since fancy characters are not enough to win me over, Palit has also kept the consumer informed by adding important product details and specifications on the packaging. The retail box offers an inviting design and attractive layout, along with some important product data on the back. The colors and information all seem exciting, but I'm not quite sold on that frog.
When NVIDIA first launched the GeForce 9600 GT product line, I wasn't exactly impressed with thin single-card reference design. There just wasn't much more to the card than a thin PCB covered by a shroud of plastic. So I'm thankful that Palit went to the design table and recreated their own version of the 9600 GT from the PCB up. I've already admitted my love for the burnt orange color they used, so it's no surprise that I'm a big fan of the appearance, but the added RAM heatsink really sets the appearance of this product apart from the rest. Since the I/O header panel is loaded with connections, the Sonic 9600 GT looks the part of much more expensive GeForce products without the hefty price tag.
The craftsmanship and construction of this card are what set it apart from others. To begin with, Palit has taken its role as a NVIDIA AIC (Add-In Card) partner seriously, and engineered a whole new upper-half of the GeForce 9600. Add to this the fact that they managed to load 1024 MB worth of GDDR3 onto the PCB, and you can see how dedicated they are to their craft. I think the most impressive thing I've noticed about Palit products is the extremely well-tuned performance testing which screens out possible failures and thus reduces the overall RMA rate. I recall having to return six different BFG 7900 GT's before getting a good one because there were capacitors rolling around inside the package, and by the time I had played the ship-at-your-expense game I had added up a huge expense on top of the initial purchase price. With less than 1% return rate, it's good to know I won't have a bad experience with Palit products.
In regards to product performance, I have evaluated the GeForce 9600 GT Sonic graphics card as a whole. In video game performance, it did well enough to remain competitive against some of the larger video cards, but it didn't impress me against the overclocked 8800 GT. It's worth noting however that while 'testing' this product with the game Titan's Quest, previous graphics cards such as the GeForce 8800 GTS and 8800 GS both have all exhibited a rubber-banding effect as the large-scale scrolling world is drawn. This wasn't the case with a 1 GB frame buffer available to the Palit GeForce 9600 GT. Additionally, other large scale worlds such as those found in Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures also seemed to play very well with the large amount of GDDR3 available to it. But this is all just the gaming side of my rating, because once you take into account the myriad assortment of multimedia connections like DisplayPort and HDMI, you begin to take notice of this video cards other functionality. Performance displaying HDMI content from my Blu-ray Disc player worked flawlessly, and when DisplayPort finally replaces HDMI the Sonic 9600 GT will be prepared for the future.
All of these ratings are well and fine, but ultimately the price tag decides the bottom line. Initially the Palit GeForce 9600 GT 1GB Sonic Video Card NE/960TSX0202 was available for as low as $160, but then for some reason the prices actually increased across the entire GeForce 9600 GT product line. Presently the Palit 9600 GT 1 GB Sonic Edition is available at NewEgg for $177.99. This makes it very tough on my value rating, since the ZOTAC 8800 GT AMP! video card that consistently outperformed the Sonic is now available at NewEgg for $146.99 ($126.99 after rebate). If you're looking for outstanding performance from video games at an equally impressive price the Palit GeForce 9600 GT Sonic is by no means a bad decision, but the added 1 GB video frame buffer isn't going to make a difference in most games and there are other products worth considering. If gaming isn't your sole focus, then the multimedia capabilities matched to 3D performance is well worth the price.
In conclusion, the Palit GeForce 9600 GT makes a very good choice for gamers who want to step-up into PCI-Express 2.0 and take advantage of DisplayPort or full HDMI audio/video output. The Sonic NE/960TSX0202 provides excellent cooling improvements over other single-slot solutions, and will work very well in HTPC environments where airflow and noise are kept to a minimum. I won't dispute that the benchmark results we recorded were no better than the 8800 GT, but the gaming experience in large-scale world-based games actually made great use of the large video frame buffer. While value is a relative subject, the performance and functionality appear to have some credence in relation to the product cost. If you're a gamer on a very tight budget, than the 9600 GT is an excellent product worth consideration, but the other half of its value comes from home theater application.
+ Very good AA/AF performance in DirectX 9 games
- Not the best price point performer
- Noisy fan at initial startup
- Large video frame buffer not utilized by many games
- Requires two expansion card slots
Final Score: 8.85 out of 10.
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