Ever since its release, Nvidia's G92-based GeForce 8800 GT, and to a lesser extent its sibling, the G94-based GeForce 9600 GT, have been strong contenders in the mid-range graphics market. When the GeForce 8800 GT launched, it was a revolution in affordable DirectX 10 gaming and in the six months following its release, it firmly established itself as the mid-range card of choice.
The 9600 GT has also proven a winner (once its prices had dropped significantly below that of the 8800 GT), and is currently solid value at just below £100. Bang for buck, it’s been difficult to fault either card in its target price range since they launched, and their market dominating position shows that.
However, with the recent announcement of ATI's and Nvidia’s new Radeon HD 4850 and GeForce 9800 GTX+ occupying the mid-range, the older value-orientated graphics cards will soon be providing solid DirectX 10 performance at even lower, and even more attractive price points for the most budget conscious gamer.
Just because these cards are being replaced in that all important £115-£140 price bracket, it doesn’t mean that there's no longer room for innovation, and that’s exactly what BFG Tech is offering with its ThermoIntelligence editions of the 8800 GT and 9600 GT. With a redesigned, dual slot, heatpipe based cooler to replace the single slot Nvidia reference designs, how much cooler can these cards be, and also how much more performance can be squeezed out of these graphics cards? Lets crack open the bit-tech “box-o-benchmarks” and find out.
Boxes and Bundles
Both the boxes for the 9600 GT OCX and the 8800 GT OCX are what could be described as functional before flashy, and there's no box art to speak of - that's because they're etail boxes and are not designed to be put in brick-and-mortar retail stores. The boxes are all business, with clear descriptions of each card's specification and what's included in the box on the front of each box, along side the OCX and ThermoIntelligence logos.
Disappointingly, it appears that BFG Tech has abandoned its on-the-box performance indicators, continuing the confusion of average customers as to which card is better. This just leaves the layman with the misguiding clock speeds to try and judge performance.
Click to enlarge - the BFG Tech 8800 GT OCX 512MB and BFG Tech 9600 GT OCX 512MB Bundles
The rear of the box is no more helpful, and takes up a lot of space proclaiming the advantages of a "Dedicated Nvidia GeForce GPU" over i945G integrated Intel graphics, the key points being "Shading and lighting are realistic and curves are smooth." This is the marketing message that Nvidia has been pushing for quite some time now and while it's useful for consumers that don't understand the advantages of having a discrete GPU, they're a great place to poke fun if you do understand. But let's not go there, eh?
The included bundles could best be described as sparse, with a dual Molex to six-pin PCI-E adapter, HDTV component cable, driver disc and install guide wallet and a DVI to VGA adapter (there are two included with the 8800 GT OCX). As usual from BFG Tech, there are no included games, extra accessories or software - this seems to be what gamers want though and that's fine with us.