NVIDIA GeForce 9600 GT Launch and 3-Way Shootout

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Conclusion

NVIDIA’s decision to launch a mid-range product as the first member of the GeForce9 lineup will no doubt be met with some mild confusion on the part of gamers who are use to NVIDIA’s normal "big guns first" release schedule. We’ll admit, having NVIDIA state that the GeForce 8800 lineup is still the best for performance while the GeForce 9 is launching is a somewhat strange scenario, but in any case, we’re happy to see NVIDIA pushing better performing cards to lower price points, and that’s exactly what the GeForce 9600 GT aims to do.

The GeForce 9600 GT doesn’t change the mid-range lineup drastically, as it delivers similar performance levels to that of the GeForce 8800 GT and Radeon HD3870 graphics cards at a slightly lower price point. Depending on which game you run, any one of these three cards can potentially come out the victor, but in general, they are all very close in the performance charts and are available at comparable price points. NVIDIA’s GeForce 9600 GT is targeted a bit lower on the price spectrum, which makes its performance level more appreciable, but we’ll have to wait and see the street prices for these new cards before making any final judgements on that front. All in all, though, we’re not dealing with any earth-shattering changes compared to the mid-range graphics cards we currently have on the market today. The GeForce 9600 GT simply wedges itself in between the GeForce 8600 GT and 8800 GT cards in NVIDIA’s lineup, and directly competes against ATI’s Radeon HD3850 and 3870 products, and does so very favorably.

NVIDIA’s new G94 graphics processor delivers surprisingly solid performance, considering it has a little more than half the stream processors than its bigger brother, the GeForce 8800 GT. Even so, through boosting the clock speeds, new compression algorithms, fast memory chips, and driver optimizations, NVIDIA can nail the same performance level while using less power and with a physically smaller GPU. For NVIDIA, this is certainly a win.  For consumers, time will tell as street prices fall in line. It’s certainly a wicked fast little chip considering its sub-$200 price point, and we’re certain that NVIDIA will sell them by the truckload.  However, don’t expect your shiny new GeForce9 card to blow away your friend’s GeForce 8800 Ultra card in benchmarks. Not going to happen.  That's not what this GeForce 9 release is about.

For gamers with 20-24” widescreen displays, the GeForce 9600 is a pretty great companion graphics card. If you’re going beyond 24”, we’d recommend going for one of the higher-end members of the GeForce 8800 series (GTS, GTX) to see solid performance at 1920X1200 or 2560x 1600. Or, pick up a pair of the 9600 GT’s in SLI and get roughly the same performance from a pair of G94 GPU’s. This new GPU does handle SLI configurations quite well, in performance, power consumption, and overall heat/noise output. While we’re not convinced it hits some sort of sweet spot that other cards had not, we will say that a pair of these in SLI make for a potent combo for a gaming system.

Of course, this is not the only GeForce9 series card in the pipeline, and we’re certain to all catch wind of future products from this new NVIDIA GPU family in the near future as well.  All we can say at this point is that NVIDIA is off to another good start with the GeForce 9600 GT.  We’re looking forward to seeing what else they have up their sleeve next.

Asus EN9600 GT

  • Highly Overclockable
  • HDMI Adapter Included
  • Lowest Retail Price - $189
  • Stock Clock Speeds
  • Lacks Killer Feature
  • Stock Reference Design



eVGA GeForce 9600 GT SSC Edition

  • Highest Clocked GPU Out Of The Box
  • Overclockable Beyond That Level, Too.
  • Hottest Running Card Of The Bunch
  • No HDMI Support
  • Expensive at $200+



Palit GeForce 9600 Sonic

  • Highest Clocked Memory Modules
  • Quietest Cooling System
  • HDMI and DisplayPort Connectors

  • Strange and Bizarre Artwork
  • Occupies Two Case Slots
  • Most Expensive @ $219



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