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Appeared on: Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Asus EN9600GT Top


1. Introduction, features

Asus recently released an overclockable version of Nvidia's 9600GT card, the "EN9600GT TOP" . The core of the card has been clocked at 720MHz, compared to the 650MHz of Nvidia's reference design, a difference that should give you a 10 percent performance boost, according to Asus.

The Shader clock of this card is also overclocked to 1800MHz and the memory has been pushed to 2GHz (1GHz effective). The card also comes with a PCB designed by Asus and its Asus Glaciator fan, also met in the company's latest TOP edition models.

Asus' Glaciator fan should help lower GPU temperatures while it is still relatively quiet, producing 25db of noise, according to the official specifications. The card is also HDMI certified via a DVI-HDMI adapter and an S/PDIF connection to motherboard's internal S/PDIF header, which is not the best solution we could thing. Lastly, Asus EN9600GT Top uses Japanese polymer capacitors for more stable operation and comes bundled with Asus SmartDoctor for easier overclocking of Shader clocks.

- Retail package

Inside the box you find a DVI to D-Sub adaptor, a DVI-to-HDMI adaptor, an HDTV-out cable, a Power cable and an internal audio cable to connect at the SPDIF internal header of the motherboard. There are also two optical discs with drivers and utilities.

The Asus EN9600GT Top has been designed by Asus and as we mentioned, it is cooled by the Glaciator fansink.

A closer inspection reveals that the fan is made out of copper.

 

You will need a 6-pin power supply to operate this graphics card.

The GPU core runs at 720MHz, the memory at 1000MHz and the Shader clock at 1800MHz. Below are several screenshorts from GPU-Z and Everest Ultimate Edition.


2. Tests and setup

All tests were conducted in the folowing test PC:

We used many games and applications to evaluate each graphics card's performance. In addition we used FRAPS software to measure in game performance when needed.

DirectX 9

DirectX10


3. Testbed DirectX9, DirectX10
- Testbed DirectX9

For all the tests we used the default settings for 3DMark05:

Again we left the settings to the default:

- Testbed DirectX10

We used the build-in benchmark with all details maxed out.

We used hocbench Crysis benchmark tool for three resolutions, 1280x1024, 1680x1050 and finally 1920x1200. We ran the benchmark software either with High and Very High details in order to find out at which resolution the game is playable.

We maxed out all visual details, including 4x AA Multisampling and of course 16x AF. We used FRAPS to record the game-in experience after recording a two minutes runout.


4. FutureMark Hall Of Fame

The Futuremark benchmarks have been highly discussed among gamers and reviewers. For your information we post results from 3DMark 05, 3DMark 06 and of course the newly released 3DMark Vantage that gives you a rough idea of what you can expect from the tested graphic cards.

The higher core/memory/shader clocks affect the overall 3D Mark 05 and 3DMark 06 scores. In our case, the Asus 9600GT Top produced higher scores than the Inno3DGT iChill and of course the Asus 9600GT Silent. However, the Gainward 9600GT 1024GS proved to be faster at 3DMark05. Things were different in the g 3DMark 06 scores. Here, the Asus 9600GT Top was the fastest among the 9600GT series..

The 3DMark Vantage gives a clearer view about the card's performance in various resolutions, from 1280x1024 and up to 1920x1200. The Asus EN9600GT Top is faster in all resolutions. After the 1680x1050, the differences at various overclocked graphics cards are minimal and this shows the limitations of the Nvidia G94GT core.


5. Crysis (DirectX10)

Crysis is probably the defacto benchmark game since almost no currently sold card can offer acceptable frame rates, especially when high quality settings have beed selected.

All tested graphics cards give acceptable frame rates at 1280x1024 with high quality settings enabled. The Asus EN9600GT Top had an average of 28FPS, although Gainward's additional 512MB of memory proved to be helpful, providing some exrta FPS.

Enabling the very high quality settings has a significant impact (over 50%) on performance of all the tested graphic cards. The Asus 9600GT Top reached the 12FPS, while the Gainward 9600GT 1024GS was just one FPS faster.

Pushing resolutions even higher (1680x1050 and 19200x1200) did not allow us to play the game. All tested 9600GT cards gave the same performance.


6. Company Of Heroes v1.71 (DirectX 10)

Company Of Heroes is a well known action/strategy game with many fans around the world. The game was the first to use the DirectX10 and its physics are very impressive. We maxed out all visual details and with the benchmarked the performance of each card.

At 1280x1024, the average performance of all the tested video cards was very good. The Asus EN9600GT Top was the fastest 9600GT card in all resolutions we tested.


7. Assassins Creed (DirectX 10)

Ubisoft's Assassins Creed also supports the DirectX 10.1 extensions. The game's graphics are highly demanding, especially with all details maxed out. We tested the graphics cards at 1920x1200 resolution only. Using FRAPS we recorded the same fight scene and the results presented below. The Asus EN9600GT Top is faster Nvidia 9600GT card we tested with 27.08 FPS.

- Half Life 2 Episode 2 (DirectX 9)

Half Life 2 is a first person shooter game that everybody has played and loved. The game at Episode 2 has several image quality improvements. By enabling 4xAA and 16AF we have a significant visual improvement.

The Asus EN9600GT Top seems lead in the performance among the tested 9600GT cards, even with almost no-sense difference compared with the Gainward 9600GT 1024GS.


8. Overclocking, Final words
- Overclocking

Overclocking a graphisc card could be very easy task, depending the existing cooling system and overall core/memory frequencies. The Asus EN9600GT Top is already pre-overclocked from factory compared with a generic Nvidia 9600GT model. We were curious to find out the limits of the card, using a trial-error testing procedure. We used the latest RivaTuner software and we rised up core/memory/shader frequencies until we got an error free 3- round crysis benchmark.

Graphic Card
Core
Memory
Shader
Normal
OC
Normal
OC
Normal
OC
Asus 9600GT Top
720
802
1000
1013
1800
1966

We managed to get some exra performance boost from the Asus 9600GT Top. Of course, the Glaciator fansink helped us on this task. We should note here that even at full load, the Asus Glaciator fansink is pretty silent, at least compared with Nvidia's generic cooling solution.

- Conclusion

Asus has a long tradition at producing overclockable products based at Nvidia designs with higher core/memory/shader frequencies. The Asus EN9600GT Top has around 10% higher clocks than generic Nvidia 9600GT cards. Moreover it comes with Asus' own PCB design and cooling solution called "Glaciator fansink". Hopefully this combination would help the card get the first place in all benchmarks, which pretty much we can say its an accurate statement. Compared with other 9600GT cards, we have to say that the Asus EN9600GT Top was the fastest one we have tested - with the exception the Crysis game benchmark. Crysis seems to get extra boost from the additional 512MB ram that Gainward 9600GT 1024GS model has on board. The included support for HDMI interface is welcomed, although it requires you to additionally connect the included SPDIF cable to the motherboard.

Overall, the Asus EN9600GT Top is a decent solution for users who are thinking of buying an Nvidia 9600GT based card. Compared with other 9600GT cards, we are talking about a highly pre-overclocked model with extra cooling fan that will cost you around ~170 Euro. Nvidia's generic 9600GT cards are sold for ~140 Euro. So if can't do without overclocking and a 9600GT solution is included in your purchase plans, Asus' proposal may be a attractive and will offer you some extra fun trying to explore the card's additional overclocking margins.

 



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