Page 10 - Noise Factor and Conclusion
In our temperature tests, we've simulated the mark in a standard working environment to reflect upon real life temperatures. This is based on the heat dissipation and airflow distribution of the Asus Glaciator heatsink/fan on the Asus EN9600GT TOP 512MB graphics card.
The factory overclocked Asus EN9600GT TOP 512MB doesn't run particularly hot at all -- from its low power consumption to the Asus Glaciator aluminum heatsink/fan, the thermal design of this card is generally very good -- partly on Asus, and partly to NVIDIA's credit for not building something that uses as much power or runs as hot as the 8800GTS 512MB. The Glaciator flower-shaped cooler brings air directly over the G94 core with a relatively larger fin surface area than a cramped slot cooler. The way it is designed also spreads out the air to bring airflow over the memory and VRMs, although those components, mentioning once more, does not have any heatsinks over it for direct cooling.
Again, under idle conditions, the low RPM fan on the Asus EN9600GT TOP is actually very quiet. In fact, it is almost not audible in relation even to our extremely quiet configuration of Noctua NF-S12-800 in front, Noctua NF-S12-1200 at the back with Asus Q-Fan enabled to drop it to around 800rpm, Noctua NF-P12 on our NH-U12P heatsink, powered by a Seasonic M12 power supply with a low RPM ADDA fan.
From an acoustic and subjective scale from 0-10 where 0 is silent and 10 being the loudest, I would rate the Asus EN9600GT TOP's cooler to be at 4.0/10 under idle conditions. It's a bit louder than most stock coolers under idle -- the air turbulence noise can clearly be heard. The fan doesn't spin up much under load, so it is actually very quiet -- the difference between load and idle will require some real effort to distinguish. Under maximum load, I would rate the stock cooler to be at 4.5/10 on our proprietary acoustical noise scale.
As we observed in our tests, it's safe to say that the 9600GT reclaimed the midrange performance crown the 8600 series cards lost last season. It's quite a powerful unit -- scoring very decently in both real life performance tests and synthetics such as 3DMark06. In fact, it's quite head to head with AMD's "I finally got it right" 3870. Being that, I personally felt that the 9600GT's performance is mostly compensated by its high clocks for its lack of shaders and the such. The 3870 holds a little more consistent performance across the board, while the 9600GT fluctuates as it's hit by something that requires for shader horsepower or true processing power. Generally speaking, the 9600GT is a bit cheaper than the 3870, offers fairly close performance to each other, and very reasonable power consumption. Things I would like to see changed: Smaller PCB, because the one I have on hand is large but mostly empty. Otherwise, on the Asus side, the Glaciator heatsink cools very well -- but it doesn't need to spin that fast during idle (Can probably be changed by software though). The Asus 9600GT TOP did not fail to impress us again on the TOP family line though -- it overclocks very nicely and can be roughly 25% overclocked on core, shader, and memory over a stock 9600GT. It may not be a bad choice at all for a midrange segment card.
Special thanks to Wil over at Asus for making this review possible.
APH equal.balance Award
Starting from April 30, 2007, Number Ratings has been dropped for motherboards, RAM, and graphics cards. This is to ensure the most appropriate ratings reflected without the limits of using numbers. Everything else will continue using the Number Rating System.
More information in our Review Focus.
The NVIDIA 9600GT is an excellent bang for the buck card in the midrange segment. The Asus EN9600GT TOP 512MB is no exception; its high clocks can be even higher when overclocked. The special Asus cooler does its job very well too.
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1. Introduction, Specifications, Bundle
2. NVIDIA 9600GT Architecture
3. A Closer Look, Test System
4. Benchmark: FEAR
5. Benchmark: Prey
6. Benchmark: Half Life 2: Lost Coast
7. Benchmark: CS:Source HDR
8. Benchmark: 3DMark06
9. Power Usage, Overclocking
10. Noise Factor and Conclusion