Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 45nm processor
Asus Striker II NSE nForce 790i SLI motherboard
OCZ ReaperX DDR3-1333 memory
Nesteq EECS 7001 700 watt PSU
Thermaltake M9 mid tower
Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit
For testing, I will be comparing the Palit geForce 9600GT Sonic with two other cards, an XFX 8600GT Ultimate Overclock, and a Zotac 8600GTS, to see if the 9600GT is a viable upgrade from the last generation of mid-range geForce cards. Both cards have 256mb of memory, and have proved to be decent cards, playing most games well at medium settings, and both cards benchmark with about the same numbers. The prices on both cards have dropped with the release of the nVidia "9" series, the 8600GTS is generally available for about $85-$95, and the 8600GT is usually around $70. Upon release last year, the 8600GTS ran about $170, about the cost of a reference 9600GT today, and a little less than this 1GB, factory overclocked card.
I suppose that some people would laugh at the idea of an entire gig of memory on a mid-range graphics card. Personally, I don't think it is a bad idea, as long as it doesn't add significantly to the price of the card. Keep in mind that graphics cards share system memory if needed. Also keep in mind that most people are still using two gigs of system memory, three at the most, not having made the leap to a 64-bit operating system. Two gigs of system memory is marginal for games like Crysis, and I really don't want to chance my video card eating any of my already marginal system memory. Though 512 megs is probably enough, I KNOW that 1 gig is enough.
For artificial benchmark testing, I used the tried and true 3DMark05, 3DMark06, and the graphics test from PCMark05.
We see that the 9600GT totally blows away the earlier cards. I have to attribute at least some of that to the extra memory on the 9600GT. I recently tested a Radeon HD 3850 that had 512mb of memory, and it also performed significantly better than the two 256mb cards.
Once again, the 9600GT really showed up the 8 series cards.
Undoubtedly, the Palit 9600GT Sonic fares very well with artificial benchmarks. Now for what a gaming card is really for, gaming.