The Albatron 9600GT

Albatron 9600GT-512x Review

Albatron is one of those companies that is a quiet player in the market.  Not quiet in the fact that they do produce some great performing products, but quiet in the fact that you just do not hear a lot about them.  They are not a flashy company.  They do not send press releases out for every time the CEO goes to the bathroom.  They just do what they do, and then leave it up to the consumer to buy their products, plain and simple.  They are kind of like the blue-collar players in the industry.  In all the years that I have dealt with Albatron products, I cannot remember a time that I had an issue with one.  Grant it, most of my experience has been with their motherboards, and not their video cards like what I am looking at today.  In fact, let’s just get right to it.  Today we have the Albatron GeForce 9600GT-512x video card.  Let’s take a look at the specs from their site.

Albatron 9600GT-512x Review


As you can see, this is a card built on the 9600GT graphics chip, with 512MB of memory.  The memory clock runs at 900MHz, the engine clock runs at 650MHz and the shader clock is at 1625 MHz.  The card has a 256-bit memory bus.

Up Close And Personal

Albatron 9600GT-512x Review

As we take a look at the Albatron GeForce 9600GT-512x, you can see that Albatron really has gone with a rather plain looking exterior for the card.  No monsters or half-naked cartoon women or anything like that on this card.  Just the nVidia logo and the Albatron logo that is on the fan.

It is also obvious that this card is a single-slot card, with a single fan to cool the card.

Albatron 9600GT-512x Review

The back of the card is bare, so you can see that there are twelve screws that are securing the front case, fan, and heatsinks that are under the case. 

Albatron 9600GT-512x Review

On the rear of the Albatron 9600GT-512x we find the dual DVI-I outputs for connection to analog and digital PC monitors and HDTVs, a 7-pin analog video-out port that supports S-Video directly, plus composite and component (YPrPb) outputs via an optional dongle.

Albatron 9600GT-512x Review

The 9600GT series of cards use one 6-pin power connecter from your power suuply, unlike the 9800 series, which takes two 6-pin connectors.  If you do not have a 6-pin on your power supply, Albatron supplies an adaptor for you to use, as you will see when we look at the bundle that comes with the card.

Let’s take a look under the hood!

Albatron 9600GT-512x Review

Once you open up the card, you can see that Albatron used PLENTY of thermal paste to make sure the card was able to be cooled properly.


Albatron 9600GT-512x Review

At the top left, we see the SLi connector.  We can also see the  DDR3 chips surrounding the graphics chip.



Albatron 9600GT-512x Review

The GDDR3 memory IC’s that are used on the Albatron 9600GT-512x are Samsung K4J52324QE-BJ1A, which are  rated at 1000MHz, which means we should be able to overclock the memory as the reference clocks are 900MHz.


Albatron 9600GT-512x Review

Once we cleared off the 675MHz G94 core, we are able to see that our card is powered by a core that is labeled G94-300A1.

Retail Box and Bundle

Albatron 9600GT-512x Retail Box

The packaging of the Albatron GeForce 9600GT-512x was fine. The labeling on the box gives you the basic info about the card

Albatron 9600GT-512x Graphics Card Packaging

Once you open it up, you are greeted with the video card in a static wrap. Everything else that comes with the card is under the top layer of the interior box.

Albatron 9600GT-512x Video Card Bundle

The bundle includes adaptors to go from DVI to HDMI and DVI to VGA. There is also an adaptor to go from svideo to component and composite. You also get a power adaptor to use two 4-pin molex power connectors to get the six pin power connection needed for the card. Also included is a CD with the drivers that are needed, a quick installation guide, a digital audio cable and of course the all-important sticker!

Test Setup

Albatron 9600GT-512x Review


Intel Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor

Intel QX6850

Motherboard

XFX 790i Ultra

Video Card

ATI 3850

Albatron GeForce 9600GT

Click Here
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Memory

Corsair C6400C4 2 GB kit

Kingston HyperX PC3-13000

Hard Drive

Western Digital Raptor 150GB

Cooling

Corsair Nautilus

Power Supply

PC Power & Cooling 750

Operating System

Windows Vista Ultimate 64Bit

 

The test system was running Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit with all available Microsoft updates including the hotfixes required for enthusiast video cards to run correctly. NVIDIA Forceware 174.74 drivers were used for the Albatron GeForce 9600GT-512x.  ATI Catalyst 8.4 drivers were used for all ATI cards. All results shown in the charts are averages of at least three runs from each game or application used. Memory timings were set to 1066MHz 7-7-7-20.

Testing Results

Albatron 9600GT-512x Review

As we look at the results from our testing, it does not take long to see that the Albatron GeForce 9600GT-512x is going to spank the ATI Radeon HD 3850.  In fact, there was not one meaningful test that put the 3850 even close to the 9600GT.

In all of our game testing, the Alabtron card bests the 3850 by a minimum of a 21% increase in framerates, regardless of the resolution used. 

Our synthetic tests were a little closer, well, at least in 3dMark 2006.  We only see a 4.4% difference in the overall score.  There is hardly any difference at all in the CPU score, which we expected.  Lightsmark 2007 was a different story though, the Albatron 9600GT just creamed the ATI Radeon 3850. 

The average improvement of the 9600GT over the 3850 for both the Game and Synthetic testing is over 40%.  There is no way you can spin these results to the 3850’s favor!  Looks like the 3850 is the Hillary Clinton of this matchup... it held up until the end, but the math is just not there to give it any victory.




Temperature And Overclocking

Temperatures

Since video card temperatures and the heat generated by next-generation cards have become an area of concern among enthusiasts and gamers, we want to take a closer look at how these cards generate heat under load.

Albatron 9600GT-512x Review

With the ATI Tool open, the video card was rendering the object in the picture above which put the GPU at 99% load, which is great for heating up the card.  We let it run for half an hour and it was enough to get the GeForce 9600 GT up to 67 degrees Celsius from its idle temp of 41 degrees Celsius. Once we overclocked the card to the settings you will see below, our temps went to 46 degrees Celsius at idle to 71 degrees Celsius at load.  These temps are really pretty good.  At default speeds, the ATI card that we used in our testing ran quite a bit warmer just at idle speeds.  With the 3850 we saw temps of 44 degrees Celsius at idle and 89 degrees Celsius at load.  It should be noted that this was done on the open test bench with the motherboard laying flat, so expect slightly higher temperatures with the cards installed in a case.

Albatron 9600GT-512x Review

We were quite pleased with the overclocking we were able to do on this card.  As you can see from the above screenshot from GPU-Z, the default speeds on the card are 650 MHz for the GPU clock, 900 MHz for the memory clock and 1625 MHz for the Shader clock.  Using Powerstrip for our overclocking, we were able to get 755 MHz out of the GPU, 1170 MHz out of the memory and 1888 MHz out of the Shader clock.  That is a pretty good overclock!  Just to give you an example of the performance increase you will get  from this oveclock, our Crysis scores looked like this with the overclocked settings:

 Albatron 9600GT-512x Review

Final Thoughts And Conclusion

Albatron 9600GT-512x Review

It has been a little while since I have actually used a nVidia based video card in my test rig.  After using this one, I can tell you that it will be staying in the test bench for now.  Hands down it handled today’s modern games better than the ATI Radeon HD 3850 card.  Game play was smooth as silk, even at higher resolutions.

The packaging for the Albatron GeForce 9600GT is not too bad.  I really like to see current game titles thrown in to entice people to purchase.  It seems to add even more value to the bundle to get a $30-50 game that will show off the cards ability. 

The heat on the 9600GT was minimal when compared to the ATI 3850.  The cooling solution that Albatron uses works wonderfully on this card, keeping temps to a respectable level (And much lower temps compared to the ATI Radeon HD 3850).  Noise was also not very bad at all, in fact, I really hardly noticed it enough to remember to write about it, even with an open bench setup. It should be mentioned that the ATI card was noticeably louder than the 9600GT throughout our testing.

When it comes to pricing and availability it should be noted that Albatron does not have any established distribution channels in the United States. We asked Albatron about this and they informed us that they are concentrating on other regions that have been traditionally strong for them. Albatron did tell us that the MSRP on the Albatron GeForce 9600GT-512x would be roughly $150, but it is up to the channel to set the street price. Prices on GeForce 9600 GT video cards here in the United States start at $144.99 and go up to $189.99, so Albatron seems to be competitive on price.

The Albatron GeForce 9600GT-512X was found to be just over 40% faster than the ATI Radeon HD 3850 graphics card that we tested it against and is roughly in the same price category. The ATI Radeon HD 3850 was launched on November 15, 2007 and had an MSRP of $179.99, but now can be found for just $109.99 online. At $150 the Albatron GeForce 9600GT-512X is 36% more expensive, but you get just over 40% more performance.  If you throw in the online rebates the GeForce 9600 GT can be found for $119! The price versus performance value on these mainstream cards is excellent. Keep in mind that much of the performance boost at higher resolutions is thanks to extra frame buffer on the GeForce 9600 GT. The Albatron GeForce 9600GT-512X is the fourth GeForce 9600 GT that we have looked at and they seem to be the real deal.

Legit Bottom Line:

The Albatron GeForce 9600GT-512x is a solid performing card that comes in way over the top of the ATI Radeon HD 3850, which is a card that is in a similar price range once all the rebates are figured out.  If you are looking for a card that is a solid performer without breaking that bank, this is one should be looking at.