|Palit GeForce 9600 GT 1GB Sonic NE/960TSX0202|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Saturday, 31 May 2008|
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Palit 9600 GT Sonic Closer Look
Before I begin my detailed description of the Palit GeForce 9600 GT 1GB Sonic graphics card, it would be best to issue a disclaimer. As a child, I was a big fan of cars. The black Trans Am from Smokey and the Bandit was one of the first models I ever built (and later destroy), which was later replaced by a metal replica of The General Lee Dodge Charger from the Dukes of Hazard (which was much harder to destroy). To be clear, I don't care a great deal for old Trans Am's or Charger's as an adult. Yet, one thing remained: my fascination with the color orange. I'm sure we all have something like this that draws us into a product, and I compare this to my appeal of canary-yellow Ford Mustangs (current year models), even though I don't like Ford Mustangs. My point is this: I am guilty of simple pleasures just like anyone else, and the orange color Palit uses on their 9600 GT is one of my favorites. Moving along...
The GeForce 9600 GT 1GB Sonic video card uses a dual card-slot design because of the improved active-cooling design offered exclusively by Palit. The board is cooled with an exceptionally quiet on-board "smart" fan; even when playing the most intensive 3D games, the GeForce 9600 GT Sonic remained whisper quiet. Since I'm sure you spent plenty of quality time reading through the myriad of features and specifications, you already know that you can use the 9600 GT for something other than playing video games. The HDMI functionality is a new direction for NVIDIA graphic cards, and paired with the smart fan design and external exhausting ventilation the GeForce 9600 GT will find itself at home in HTPC's too.
Palit's 1 GB Sonic version of the GeForce 9600 GT comes in one of my favorite colors: orange (technically, it's burnt orange, but I'm not here to argue color palettes). In contrast to some of the dark and dull products we've recently tested, such as the GeForce 9800 GTX and 9800 GX2, the Sonic 9600 GT looks a whole lot more exciting. One of the primary differences in this product is the aftermarket shroud that directs and shapes the airflow.
No doubt that by now you've noticed something different about Palit's 9600 GT Sonic. Unlike the NVIDIA reference design, Palit has sculpted their version of the GeForce 9600 GT to take on the appearance of the 9800 GTX and GX2 series. While other members of the GeForce 9600 GT family are all single card-slot products, the Sonic utilizes a unique heat-pipe cooling system that takes advantage of an additional slot; placing this graphics card into the same category as its more powerful siblings.
The Palit GeForce 9600 GT 1GB Sonic graphics card is a lot more than a middle SKU on NVIDIA's roadmap. Since performance means more than just high video-game frame rates, Palit has optimized the Sonic to be a higher-end mid-range graphics card on every level. Because the HDMI audio functionality is controlled at a hardware level, there is no need for special drivers or software. The 9600 GT, similar to more expensive NVIDIA video cards, is equipped with the PureVideo 2 engine for GPU assisted decoding of the H.264 and VC-1 CODEC's.
Much like the S/PDIF connection on the back of a motherboard, the Sonic 9600 GT video card offers optical digital audio output functionality which is plug-n-play. There are two cables included with the 9600 GT: one optical S/PDIF cable and another digital audio cable for the sound card. The optical S/PDIF cable included with the kit connects between the header panel on the graphics card and interfaces with either your motherboard I/O panel (if optical input is available), or sound system hardware (such as an A/V receiver). The other alternative is to connect a digital audio cable from the small white port (pictured above near the heat-pipe) into the two-pin digital audio connection on either the motherboard or sound card.
Since there are more than a few other graphic cards from the NVIDIA product line which offer more firepower, the 9600 GT must become more multi-purpose in order to achieve popularity. One the one hand, you have NVIDIA releasing product SKU's which cut into several other product segments, and on the other hand you have the add-in card partner (Palit) that must then redefine its purpose and add value to the product in order to make it sales worthy. There's no hiding the fact that Palit has its work cut out for it with the G94, which explains why the 1 GB Sonic graphics card looks nothing like the rest of the series.
While the G94 graphics processor has had its dial turned well into the redline zone, power requirements are rather minimal for the 9600 GT. Primary power is taken from the PCI Express host bus as well as from a single 6-pin PCI Express power connector. Since only one PCI-E connection is required, anyone with an older (pre PCI-E) power supply can take advantage of the Palit GeFoce 9600 GT by using the included power adapter. Ultimately, this will prove itself to be a good step-up card for anyone wanting more modern features without extreme-level gaming horsepower found in the most expensive cards.
Please continue on to the next section where Benchmark Reviews takes a detailed look at the Palit NE/960TSX0202 GeForce 9600 GT 1GB Sonic graphics card.