Can't handle gaming and beaten by cheaper media cards too.
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The 9500 GT is basically the cut-off point for true gaming cards. Just $10 above it you'll find the HD 4650, capable of playable frame rates in the demanding Crysis at medium settings; the 9500 GT can't manage this, so from this card down you're looking solely at the media end of the market.That's not to say it isn't worth considering, though. With a mere 32 stream processors and a 550MHz core clock, coupled with 256MB of memory, it might not be the meatiest card out there, but it will just about play the latest games at low settings - even if that does miss the point of buying a new game. More importantly, it doesn't require a power input and it will bear most of the brunt when decoding a Blu-ray disc for playback - a major factor for a media-centre PC.In our tests the ageing, single-core CPU hovered around the 60% mark during the movie, which is around 8-10% better than the 9400 GT - perfectly watchable, in other words. Unfortunately for Nvidia, though, it's a good deal higher than the 30-40% CPU load of both the ATI media cards, which begs the question: why would you buy the 9500 GT over its more efficient rivals?And we don't have an answer. It isn't fast enough to seriously consider it a gaming card in any respect - unless you play only retro classics - yet it also isn't as good as the very cheapest card in the group at HD media decoding. So, all things considered, we'd recommend you save yourself a few dollars and stick with the bargain HD 4350 for your entertainment system.
This Review appeared in the May, 2009 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine
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