For testing power consumption, we took our test system and plugged it into a Seasonic Power Angel. For idle numbers, we allowed the system to idle on the desktop for 15 minutes and took the reading. For load numbers, we measured the peak wattage used by the system while running the game Call of Duty 4 at 1280×1024 with high graphics quality.
At idle there is a slight advantage for the HD3870 in total system power consumption…
under load however both of the 9600 GT’s have an advantage. You can see that the overclocked Asus card is pulling just a little more power with the increased clock speeds.
The Asus 9600 GT TOP edition is obviously not the fastest card in NVIDIA’s line up but that is not the goal here. As of this writing, the Asus 9600 GT is selling for $129 after a $20 Mail-in-rebate, which is an astounding value! You get a card with a great cooling, low-noise heat sink, and an overclocked card for the same price as a reference model. Though the performance differences weren’t that large compared to the reference card the heat sink easily makes this card the, forgive the pun, TOPS in its class.
In the big picture we just saw the release of the GTX 280 and GTX 260, two incredible performing cards, both with very large price tags. If the past couple of generations are anything to go by then it may be some while before we see the trickle down of that technology to this price point. For $130 this card is a steal for anyone not powering a huge flat panel.
One thing I cannot rave enough about is the heat sink; it is very near silent and stays that way. The fan is running at “full speed” all of the time, no throttling up and down, and no big ramp up when you first boot the PC until the driver loads. It just has great cooling and very little noise.
Legit Bottom Line: The Asus 9600 GT TOP provides an outstanding value for today’s gamer on a budget with great performance over run-of-the-mill 9600 GT and a heat sink that won’t leave you deaf or your card overheated.