A unique 9600 GT
Usually when a vendor comes to us with a potential review of a graphics card based on a 15-month old GPU we politely tell them to see the door. This time however the Galaxy 9600GT LP card was unique enough to get our attention and brought up a topic we hadn't really discussed before in terms of system upgrades.
The GeForce 9600 GT is based on the G94 GPU which traces heritage to the famed and weather-worn G92 architecture first seen with the GeForce 8800-series of graphics cards. Originally introduced in competition with the Radeon HD 3850 and HD 3870, the starting retail price on the 9600 GT was about $189. A lot has changed since then - this Galaxy 9600 GT LP card can be found for well under $90!
Our first 9600 GT
All current GeForce 9600 GT parts are still based on a 65nm process technology and consist of about 505 million transistors - well short of the 1.4 billion in the GT200 designs. There are 64 shader processors on board with 16 ROPs all running at a core clock rate of 650 MHz and a shader speed of 1625 MHz at reference speeds.
The Galaxy GeForce 9600 GT LP
Though a new comer to the world of retail and e-tail in the US, Galaxy has been coming on strong with a range of overclocked and budget graphics cards to suit most any gamers' needs. The card today is obviously about the budget-conscious gamer but also has a very specific, and profitable, target in mind.
Retail packaging for the Galaxy 9600 GT LP is pretty basic - small enough to fit in a regular FedEx box but nice to get some attention on a shelf.
Right away you'll notice that this card is different than most other cards you'll find on the market. It is shorter, though the politically correct term is "low profile", but is still able to pack a punch. The heatsink on the 9600 GT GPU is fairly heavy since it needs to manage the level of heat in a smaller area but the fan is able to keep the card cool without an overtly annoying audio pitch.
The card features an HDMI output that can be altered (via an HDMI-to-DVI dongle) to double up the dual-link DVI display output, matched on the right hand side. This is a very short bracket - meant mainly for low profile systems (which we'll discuss on the next page) but don't worry - if you have a full size case Galaxy includes an alternate bracket as well that helps the card fit snuggly into your system.
Another unique feature to this Galaxy card is the lack of a 6-pin power connector - all other 9600 GT cards to date have required the connection of a PCIe power core in order to operate but Galaxy was able to bin parts for lower power consumption in order to make this specific card. That gives the "LP" moniker a double meaning: low profile AND low power. Clever.
While the included extras with the Galaxy 9600 GT LP are pretty slim, they get the job done. There are directions, drivers, a DVI-to-VGA adaptor for those of you still using VGA monitors, the longer (standard length) bracket and also a digital audio cable for sending whatever noise you are listening to out through the HDMI port.