XFX 9600GSO 384mb vs Sapphire HD4670 512mb
XFX 9600GSO Packaging & Appearance
XFX 9600GSO Packaging & Appearance
XFX are renowned here at OC3D for being the best in the business when it comes to presenting high-end GPU's and motherboard's so I was interested to see if these same high standards would be carried through on cheaper cards. Sure enough the quality of materials used are the same here as they are for the range topping GTX280. The box features a picturesque outer sleeve with the '9' series dominating the front, along with a few unused bullets and a brief description of the card. The rear of the outer sleeve is where you will find the feature list and various warnings regarding the included Company of Heroes game. The sides of the box display the recommended specification (500w PSU single/600w SLI) and the need for a 6 pin PCIe cable. The remaining side displays the usual 'Nsist on Nvidia' blurb.
The inner box is a lime green affair, and synonymous with XFX which is both sturdy and adequate enough in preventing anything but deliberate crushing of the box. A cutout shows the card itself behind a plastic window. Opening the box we can see the card in all its glory. Surprising and somewhat worrying, the card is not supplied in any anti-static bag although the cardboard and foam packaging should most likely prevent any static from reaching the card anyway. It would be nice to have that little reassurance, regardless.
The included accessories are basic but enough to get you going with the graphics card. Company of Heroes, along with the DX10 patch is the high point and a nice addition to what is a mid-range package. Unfortunately, there is no VGA to DVI adapter so hopefully your monitor will natively support DVI or you have a spare adapter yourself. Also missing is a molex to PCIe 6-pin adapter so ensure you have a 6-pin PCIe cable on your PSU.
The card itself is a very sleek affair, being single slot and cooled by a half size fan/heatsink assembly.. Being just 8.4 inches long it could quite easily fit in an media pc and while the fan is small it is only really audible when the card is put under stress. At full tilt, the fan can be a little whiny but that's the price you pay for such small form factor cooling I guess.
The actual cooler is a full copper affair which is a true bonus considering that many manufacturers tend to cheap out and use aluminium of late. Or if you are 'lucky', copper coated aluminium. One problem with a cooler design such as this is that the hot air is expelled into the case, so decent case cooling is a prerequisite. I was also slightly concerned that not only is there no cooling on the power regulators but the hot air being exhausted from the GPU will be blowing over them. The heatsink is easy enough to access with the removal of 6 small screws and so cleaning should not be an issue.
Going that one step further, we removed the heatsink assembly to investigate the application of Thermal Interface Material (TIM). The contact area was good but the amount of putty like material was a tad excessive. The memory had thermal pads in place of TIM and notable was the addition of an extra pad cooling an empty space for memory. This is perhaps a throwback to the 512mb card which people were soft modding to 8800GTS! Sadly there will be no such shenanigans with this card.
Overall, a very nice looking card which is well presented in typical XFX style. I do like a card with a black PCB as it can find itself at home in any colour coordinated PC build. Sadly, the same cannot be said about other manufacturers, so a big thumbs up to XFX and NVIDIA for sticking to the classic black PCB. The full copper block is a major plus but the actual design is poorly thought out. Hopefully the MOSFETS will not be affected when we come to put the card under a full days worth of testing.
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