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Conclusion

Nvidia's GeForce 9600 GT Tested
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The bottom line is that the performance of this GeForce 9600 GT came as a pleasant surprise Compare Prices on GeForce Video Cards. Despite the chip having only 64 stream processors, 38% lower processing power, and 33% fewer transistors, gaming performance was only 12% below the 8800 GT on average. And it was even better than the 8800 GT 256 MB, by an amount ranging from 1% without antialiasing, up to 45% with it enabled. The 8800 GT 256 MB is greatly hampered by its 256 MB of memory, and these results mean that it is really no longer even worth considering! Meaning that it was an extremely good choice to put 512 MB of memory on the 9600 GT, even if that doesn't account for everything, since the 8800 GT has the same amount.

The upshot is that the 9600 GT puts Nvidia in a much more favorable position to compete with AMD. First, the HD 3850 is beaten hands down performance-wise, since even compared to its 512 MB version (which can be found on sale at 165-170 €, the expected MSRP for the 9600 GT), performance was approximately 15% better. Only the 256 MB version still has no competition, given its 140 € price point.

As for the HD 3870, currently available starting at 180 €, we can only recommend it to people who don't use antialiasing - with that restriction, its performance remains better than the 9600 GT's (by 5%). Once antialiasing is enabled, the performance spread is the same, but this time in favor of the 9600 GT, due to AMD's uncorrected ROPs. But in any event, we can only congratulate Nvidia on the quality of the 9600 GT's performance, especially considering that it has close to 2.5 times less raw power than the HD 3870! So the GeForce 9600 GT currently has more arguments in its favor than the HD 3870 - but keeping in mind the aggressive pricing policy that AMD is capable of wielding, that situation could evolve down the road.

As proof of that last statement, AMD called us less than 24 hours before the end of this test to announce a sudden and significant drop in the price of its Radeon HD 3000 series. In the US, the MSRP of the HD 3870 will go from $245 to $189, and the HD 3850 512 MB from $199 to $169! That will again put AMD on top where price is concerned, compared to Nvidia's offering.

For now we have to see how Nvidia will react to the news... It's an unending war and it's hard to stay on top of. But in this particular battle there's no doubt who the winner is: the consumer!

Nvidia GeForce 9600 GT

This card is a valid replacement for the GeForce 8800 GT 256 MB, and is the best low-cost solution for gamers who play with antialiasing enabled. Without the filters enabled, its performance drops behind the HD 3870 (while still staying ahead of the HD 3850s), but its price is expected to be slightly lower than that of the AMD card.

Pros

  • Performance/price ratio
  • The best card in its price range for performance with antialiasing enabled
  • Reduced power consumption and noise

Cons

  • Performance below that of the HD 3870 without filters
  • Not really any more a "GeForce 9" card than the 8800 GTs
Performance Recap

Here are the average scores for each card for all the games, Crysis included. Since STALKER wasn't tested with antialiasing, it's naturally excluded from the with-filters averages.

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