F@H – 4,500+ Points a Day w/ a $36 GeForce 9600 GSOThu, Sep 25, 2008 - 12:00 AM
What $36 Buys You When It Comes to Folding
When the NVIDIA GeForce 9600 GSO was originally released in April of 2008 it was priced slightly lower than the GeForce 9600 GT as it had lower clock speeds, but oddly enough it came with more shader processors. The EVGA e-GeForce 9600 GSO Dual-Slot Edition had an MSRP of $164.99 when it first came out and was touted as one of the cards to have if you didn’t want to spend an arm and a leg on a graphics card. For gamers that played at resolutions of 1280×1024 this card worked great, but for some reason it never seemed to take off. Part of this might be because the ATI Radeon HD 4850 was released a couple months later and attacked the same price point as you can find one of those today for just $149.99! With such a fierce battle in the mainstream graphics card market the price on the GeForce 9600 GSO has fallen like a rock and these cards can be found for just $35.99 after rebate and a $14 off coupon (code: VGA92613) right now at Newegg.
The EVGA e-GeForce 9600 GSO Dual-Slot Edition graphics card is the card that can be had for $49.99 with free shipping, a free 2GB USB Flash drive and the retailer is Newegg! For that price you don’t get a fancy factory overclocked card, but it does come with the standard clocks – 550MHz core clock, 1600MHz memory clock (effective) and 1375MHz shader processor clock frequency with a total of 96 shader cores. What makes this card so interesting from a folding perspective is that it has 96 stream processors (more than a 9600 GT), is very cheap, uses little power, produces little noise (thanks to the dual-slot cooler), and can overclock like a bat out of hell. The question is just how many points can a $36 graphics card produce?
The EVGA e-GeForce 9600 GSO Dual-Slot Edition graphics card doesn’t come with the Precision overclocking utility for some reason, but you can download EVGA Precision 1.3.2 from EVGA (here) or from Major Geeks (here) if you don’t want to sign up for an EVGA account. This utility is needed to overclock the card (raise the frequency) in order to produce better folding performance.
After spending a few hours overclocking the core clock frequency and shader processor clock frequency I was able to pull off some impressive numbers. The shader processor clock frequency was originally 1375MHz, but that was able to be overclocked all the way up to 1850MHz! This is a 475MHz overclock on the shaders, which is a nice 35% increase! The GPU core clock was increased by 150MHz up to 700MHz, which is an increase of 36%. The EVGA e-GeForce 9600 GSO Dual-Slot Edition graphics card has plenty of room left to overclock as you can tell. Increasing the memory frequency doesn’t seem to do much for folding performance so I didn’t bother to overclock it.
Using the latest NVIDIA Forceware 177.92 drivers, I installed the GPU2 6.20r1 folding client and started folding on the GeForce 9600 GSO. If you need help getting the GPU folding client installed check out this thread in our forums that can help you get things up and running. If you don’t have a folding team and would like to join ours just enter team number 38296 when setting up the application for the first time.
With everything installed I tested out how the overclock impacted performance and it seems the overclocking increased folding performance by just over 25%! When it comes to points per day the GeForce 9600 GSO with stock settings completed a step ever ~113 seconds, which means that it would produce 7.65 WU’s per day or 3,672 points per day based off the 480 point WU’s that are being folded right now. With the card overclocked to 700MHz core and 1850MHz on the shaders each step completed in ~90 seconds. At this pace the graphics card can complete 9.6 WU’s per day, which would bring in 4,680 points per day. Not bad at all for a graphics card that costs just $36. I’ve personally been folding on a GeForce GTX 260 Core 216 and it has been producing roughly 6,800 points per day and retails for $320! If you want to get involved with folding or bump up your daily points production the $36 EVGA e-GeForce 9600 GSO Dual-Slot Edition graphics card is a hands down a price versus performance winner. Just be sure to overclock it to get the most points per day!