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Vvikoo 9600GT Turbo
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Sun May 11, 2008 6:56 pm Reply and quote this post
THIS LAST GENERATION of GPUs – and the general attitudeGPU-makers have towards their AIB partners – has definitely put a differentspin on the whole graphics card market. AIB partners can essentially have theirway with graphics cards with the blessing of the GPU maker. This essentiallyputs companies like Vvikoo on par with giants like Asus, MSI, XFX or eVGA.
Sure tier-one AIB partners get in lorry-loads of chips first, but when itcomes to engineering something unique, they are on a level playing field. Youcan stick three MXM modules on a card and watercool it, but just how viable isthat in retail – not to mention aftersales support and warranties? That’s whyVvikoo slaps a sensibly solid Zalman VF1000 GPU cooler on its card, overclocksit a bit, puts it in a nice box and calls it the Vvikoo 9600GT Turbo. Voilá!

The 9600GT Turbo clocks in at 700MHz core / 1000MHz memory, that’s 50/100MHzover the reference Nvidia design thanks to the increased heat dissipationprovided by the Zalman cooler. The 512MB of GDDR3 are rated 1ns and are pastedon a 256 bit bus – pretty standard stuff but, then again, that’s the secret.
The cooler bits
The Zalman VF1000 is a full copper heatpipe+fan that covers most of the card –but doesn’t actually come into physical contact with the memory modules (Vvikoosaid they were pretty confident you wouldn’t need such a thing). It kind ofhovers in place. The cooler and card are securely held together by a length ofcopper that covers the card’s side – without this backbone, the (four)heatpipes would effectively hang in the air, subject to any stress.

Connection-wise you get the whole shebang: HDMI, DisplayPort, 2xDVI (withdual link capability) and Toslink for HD audio. Since the bracket isdual-slotted, these are conveniently stacked/spread out.

We won’t recommend installing this card on a mobo outside of a solid box, as itweighs about three metric tonnes and can put quite some stress on the PCIe slot.Apart from that it’s a simple matter of jacking in your 6-pin PCIe powerconnector at the far edge of the card, plugging in your choice of graphicsconnector and you’re set. Time to boot up.
*Click*... *whoosh*... *hummmm*. In that order. The fan speeds up, speedsdown and then revs at a fairly silent level. It’s quite silent and only after areally prolonged period of gaming does it whine. However, if you have a decentcase we’re pretty sure you won’t hear it at all. For a fairly small fan, it doesdisplace quite a lot of air; you can feel it quite easily. The card’s brackethas a small vent grill where the card can vent outside the box.
The numbers
Now onto a little bit of benchmarking. Although the card ships with its driverdisk et al the only piece of software we pulled out was the VTune. It’sa basic overclocking and monitoring tool that installs with the card and startsup at boot time. You can click away at a few options, and easily get a littlebit more out of the card – but its primary function here is to monitor andcontrol the fan speed and core temps.
Here are a few piccies of what the card can do in a host of games andbenchmarks:

These were all performed at stock speeds.
The OC

When we got to overclocking we had a pleasant surprise. The Vvikoo 9600GTTurbo overclocks quite well, for an already OC’d GPU, stably chewing away framesat 820MHz core/2050MHz shader/1100 memory.
The VTune tool works but it’s like flying blind because of its inability todetect an unstable overclock (pushing the slider to the max it just “tests” thesetting and allows it to apply, later on creating artifacts and/or crashing). Itisn’t the best tool out there but, with a little trial and error, things becamestable at the values above. Crysis was my target here. Although the card wasclocked higher – and we’re running this on a QX9770 processor – things becamemuch smoother, as you can see in the graph below.

Minimum frame rates in Crysis jumped 50 per cent - from 20.47fps to30.76fps... but maximum framerates changed very little (less than two per cent).However, if you think about it, it’s a smooth ride all the way.
So what’ll it be?
Overall the 9600GT Turbo delivers some very high marks – impressive even – someof them match 8800GT cards, others actually top them (especially if you’redoing the tests OC’d). If you SLI this thing (getting these cards might be theironly problem) then you can effectively trump very high-end cards like the9800GTX or (maybe) a GX2, at least from what we’ve seen these perform elsewhere.
Vvikoo has done a great job on this card, with a simple upgrade to areference design. Temps on the card varied very little. At idle, it was cool tothe touch and registered just 20 celsius – although we work in a pretty coldplace. After running 3DMark06 for a couple of hours, temps had just doubled. Wethought that was quite odd, as the 8600GT sitting on the bench idles at40-something Celsius and goes all the way up to the top 60s when under load. TheZalman cooler really does a stellar job keeping the card cooled.
The software bundle isn’t that shiny and interesting but, quite honestly, wecan’t hold it against Vvikoo. We don’t buy cards to play the game that ships inthe box, we get a new card to play the absolutely mind-blowing game that onegets from the store (unless, of course, we’re talking about SupCom).
Tomb Raider Anniversary isn’t what we’d call the latest and greatest game outthere, but if you grew up on Tomb Raider breast milk, you’ll appreciate thenostalgic remake of Lara Croft’s adventures.
We’ve had the card installed for a while now. It’s been running Crysis at1920x1200 at medium settings and we can’t complain about performance. Actuallyit’s quite mind-blowing as we have a Gigabyte 8600GT here and the differencereally is quite dramatic when it comes to performance.
It does look like Vvikoo is putting out products with good value and what isessentially a modicum of enthusiast appeal. The Zalman cooler is a great assethere, and everything (except maybe the software bundle), hits the spot. Pricingmay vary, but Vvikoo told us this one will run for approximately 200 €urobucks(I won’t risk converting that to dollars). It isn’t cheap for a mainstreamcard, but it does deliver performance very much beyond the mainstream.
Although there are plenty of 9600GT cards floating around on the world widewibble, we haven’t seen anything quite like this one.
The Good
Aftermarket coolers are useful, full copper ones even more so. A VF1000 is in aclass of its own.
The Bad
A single slot design becomes a dual slot design, just like that.
The Ugly
Availability. Not many etailers carry this brand.

Contributed by Editorial Team, Executive Management Team
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