The GeForce 9600 GT SLI configuration has done very well in our tests, showing high performance and proving that the G94 chip has optimal architecture. Delivering highest performance across a number of applications, this pair of mainstream graphics cards shows a strong muscle, but we need to examine the picture in more detail to recommend or not to recommend this graphics subsystem to you.
The GeForce 9600 GT SLI had higher performance than one such card in nearly all of our tests.The exceptions were BioShock where the GeForce 9800 GX2 and ATI Radeon HD 3870 X2 worked well, but the GeForce 9600 GT SLI had no performance growth at all and Call of Juarez where the SLI subsystem was hamstringed by inefficient graphics memory management, the old-time problem of Nvidia’s solutions.
But in most of the tests the GeForce 9600 GT SLI subsystem had the same or higher performance as such cards as ATI Radeon HD 3870 X2, Nvidia GeForce 9800 GTX and GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB.
Summing it up, the GeForce 9600 GT SLI is currently a high-quality and fast graphics subsystem (at least for the games we tested it in). If Nvidia goes on optimizing its drivers for 2-way SLI, this configuration may be future-proof as well.
There are a number of points that can lower the appeal of this graphics subsystem:
- GeForce 9600 GT SLI uses alternate Frame Rendering mode in most cases which has the annoying effect of lags in some cases
- GeForce 9600 GT SLI requires a mainboard based on an Nvidia nForce SLI chipset
- GeForce 9600 GT SLI ronsumes somewhat more power and produces somewhat more noise than a GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB or GeForce 9800 GTX
- GeForce 9600 GT SLI is not radically faster than its single-chip opponents in the $318-398 category; the additional performance may not be demanded in some games
Thus, affordable SLI proves to have a limited range of applications. It may only be interesting for people who have a rather expensive SLI-supporting mainboard but also a mainstream graphics card. For them, adding a second GeForce 9600 GT into the system and enabling SLI mode is going to be a nice means of increasing 3D performance. But the old method – replacing your existing GeForce 9600 GT with a single top-class graphics card – will still work better for other users.
Talking about the Gigabyte GV-NX96T512H-B, it is an ordinary GeForce 9600 GT, with Nvidia’s reference PCB design and cooler. It is a good choice for every gamer with a limited budget. A well-balanced solution, the card shows superb results (for its class) at resolutions of 1280x1024 and 1600x1200/1680x1050. It has the ATI Radeon HD 3870 as its market opponent.
Gigabyte’s product doesn’t have specific features such as direct support of DisplayPort or S/PDIF TOSLINK, but it supports HDMI including audio-over-HDMI. The single-slot cooler makes the Gigabyte card suitable for multimedia system, yet it comes without a DVI-I → HDMI adapter and HD content player. You’ll have to buy them separately, which is not good. With its accessories, the GV-NX96T512H-B is targeted at gamers rather than at video fans. By the way, the GV-NX96T series includes three models: the described 512H-B, the 512H with a Zalman cooler, and the 512HP with a passive cooling system.
Gigabyte GV-NX96T512H-B: Summary
- Superb performance for its price category
- Wide selection of FSAA modes
- Excellent quality of anisotropic filtering
- Hardware support for HD video decoding and post-processing
- 512 megabytes of graphics memory with 256-bit access
- PCI Express 2.0 support
- No compatibility problems
- Low power consumption
- Compact cooler
- Low noise level
- Good overclockability
- Often slower than the ATI Radeon HD 3870 at high resolutions
- No HDMI adapter
- No HD video player in the box