Palit might be a new name to many enthusiasts, but they have been around since 1988 and are only now trying to break into the enthusiast graphics card market. Palit is one of the largest providers of graphics cards in the world and has the capacity to produce 2 million graphics cards and motherboards per month. To stand out from the crowd of companies that make video cards they are designing there own video cards from the PCB up, which makes for some interesting designs. The Palit 9600GT Sonic is certainly not a ‘cookie cutter’ video card and has a ton of awesome features that will make it stand out for sure, but it will cost you. The Palit GeForce 9600 GT Sonic is the most expensive GeForce 9600 GT of the bunch as it runs $219 MSRP. Will the features and specifications justify the high price?
The first thing that stands out on the Palit GeForce 9600GT Sonic is the fact that it is huge! This is a dual slot GeForce 9600 GT!
Looking at the side of the card we can see one of the reasons it is dual-slot. With DisplayPort, a pair of dual-link DVI, a single HDMI output and an Optical SPDIF, the Palit GeForce 9600 GT Sonic is by far the most versatile GeForce 9600 GT graphics card of the group we are looking at today. Since the card is dual slot some of the hot air is even blown out of the case though the the slots on the back of the card. In case you haven’t heard of DisplayPort before, it is an open standard digital interface that is royalty free. It is comprised of 20 pins (external or 32 pins internally for notebooks) with a 1.62 Gbit/s or 2.7 Gbit/s per lane for a maximum bandwidth of 10.8 GBit/s. This means that a single display port can supply a full 2560×1600 resolution on a single cable using 4 lanes at 2.7GHz. Many new LCD monitors will be using this connector and in the coming years it will become more popular.
The EVGA and XFX cards that we are looking at in this article come equipped with 2 phase power distribution as they use the reference designed Nvidia GeForce 9600GT video card layout. The Palit GeForce 9600 GT Sonic and GeForce 9600 GT on the other hand uses 3 phase power to ensure a cooler and more stable power distribution system. If you look at the lower right hand area of the Palit card pictured above you can make out the three phase power system (three black squares under the corner of the heat sink). Palit had this to say on why they use an enhanced power design:
‘While the reference designs on GeForce 8800 GT and GeForce 9600 GT only requires 2 phases. We feel that 3 is a better choice for two reasons: longer life of the components under normal operation and better power stability and distribution while overclocking.’ – Palit USA
The Palit GeForce 9600 GT Sonic should do well when it comes to overclocking as it has the largest heat sink of the bunch and a three phase power distribution. Lets take the heat sink off and see what is under it!
The Palit GeForce 9600 GT Sonic uses a solid copper base that is attached to two heat pipes that transfer heat to the aluminum cooling fins. With the heat sink removed Palit’s patented “chip protector” for the ASIC can be seen. This is basically a plastic shim that helps prevent cracking the GPU die when the cooling apparatus is attached to the PCB. Palit is the only company that we have seen to use a chip protector for the ASIC, which is nice for those that like to take things apart or change heat sinks down the road.
The bundle with the Palit GeForce 9600 GT Sonic includes a single DVI-to-VGA adapters, 4-pin molex to 6-pin PCI Express power adapter, Toslink digital audio cable, and installation instructions. The Driver disc included NVIDIA Forceware drivers and some other software like VDOTool for unlocking overclocking features. Palit was the only company to bundle a game with the GeForce 9600 GT, which is a nice addition for a card in this price range. Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Anniversary runs $27.99 plus shipping at stores like Newegg and Best Buy, so it makes the bundle very solid.