If the blockbuster successes of games like World of Warcraft and Counterstrike, compared to the lack-luster reception of ultra-high-end titles like Crysis, have taught us anything, it is that the vast majority of PC gamers are not running games which are incredibly graphics intensive. As low-cost gaming consoles continue to steal many of these casual gamers away from the PC, component manufacturers for the PC platform are starting to think differently about how to approach the gaming market. As of late, we’re seeing a significant and refreshing shift towards lower-cost components for the mainstream market. Getting more performance for your dollar is now more exciting than getting the largest amount of raw performance, no matter what the cost.
NVIDIA GeForce 9600 GT - Angled View
This isn’t an entirely new concept, as CPU and GPU makers realize that their high-end components only make up a fraction of the total available market (TAM), and that the real money is made in large volume OEM deals for mid-range components. However, they’ve continued to push their high-end components in the same formula before, releasing high-end products first than letting the technology trickle down to varying price points over time. For this launch, something in the air might be changing, and NVIDIA feels there’s no bigger showcase of this change than the card we’re looking at today, the new GeForce 9600 GT.
The new GeForce 9600 GT is the first release of NVIDIA's GeForce 9 series that we’re taking a look at today. Typically, when NVIDIA launches a new lineup of graphics cards, we see a high-end component released first, which blows away previous benchmarks and instantly makes your current graphics card worthless. However, with the GeForce9 lineup, we’re seeing NVIDIA take a drastically different approach, releasing a mid-range card first. The first (and only) member of the GeForce9 series is, at the moment, available at a sub-$200 price point. While this certainly shouldn’t be perceived as NVIDIA giving up on the high-end of the market, the sea change we’re seeing in the PC gaming space simply cannot be denied.
The GeForce 9600 GT is a card that NVIDIA is promising will hit a sweet spot for gamers, offering excellent performance while simultaneously being easier on the wallet. In short, this is what the vast majority of gamers perennially ask for - rather than a massive three-way SLI setup that requires a kilowatt power supply and a small army of fans to keep cool. This, in our humble opinion, is where the industry should be heading; getting the most power-efficient performance possible, while keeping price and environmental aspects as primary concerns, not afterthoughts. Let's meet the GeForce 9600 GT.