The 8600 GT may have disappointed when it arrived, but we’re delighted to say the first GeForce 9 series card, the 9600 GT, brings no such worries.
It’s a longer card than the old 8600 GT, looking more like an 8800 GT in its single-slot design. Like the 8800 series, the GPU is a 65nm part with 64 stream processors – twice that of the 8600s – and 512MB of 900MHz GDDR3 memory.
It’s the first Nvidia mainstream card to boast a 256-bit memory bus, and with a core clock of 650MHz it’s actually very similar overall to the 8800 GTS 512MB.
We were eager to see whether the 9600 GT would be fast enough to wipe out ATi’s recent gains in one fell swoop.
It coasted through out first Crysis test: an average of 50fps at 1280 x 1024 and Medium settings puts it on a par with the 8800 GS and 8800 GT, and over double the frame rate achieved by an 8600 GTS. Bumping the resolution up to 1600 x 1200 still produced a playable 38fps, and only when we lifted the quality settings to High did it drop to a shaky 21fps.
In the slightly less demanding Call of Duty 4, it performed just as impressively. At 1600 x 1200 with the quality settings at their highest, it managed 50fps in our benchmark; again more than double that of the 8600 GTS and around 25% faster than an HD 3870.
It’s a huge increase in performance and repositions Nvidia’s mid-range. What once was only achievable by the upper-mid-range cards – the 8800 GT, for example, which currently retails at around $235 – is now well within the realms of the affordable mainstream.
Initial pricing for the 9600 GT sees it at under $200 for the full-powered version; a 256MB version will also be launched for slightly less. At these prices, the 9600 GT represents excellent value, surely spelling the end for several of Nvidia’s own upper-mid-range 8 series cards, as well as denting ATi’s resurgence.
This Review appeared in the June, 2008 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine