The First GeForce 9?
The card we're testing today is the very first GeForce 9! The first surprise is that this new generation of cards is not being introduced at the high end, as has always been the case, but rather the midrange, mainstream price point. In reality, there's a very simple explanation for this phenomenon: the architecture behind this card is the same as that introduced on the GeForce 8, and hardly improved with the arrival of the midrange versions (the 8600 GT, then the 8800 GT, as has been Nvidia's custom since the GeForce 6 series).
A few weeks back, we criticized AMD's decision to call its cards based on the RV670 "Radeon HD 3000," but Nvidia's attitude is even more reprehensible given the extremely short list of differences - no new API supported and no reworking of the stream processors - between this GeForce 9600 GT and the GeForce 8800 GT. After GeForce 7800s that at the time already didn't really seem to deserve the name GeForce 6900, the Nvidia marketing department has gone even farther, and seems to have taken us back to the dark hours of the GeForce 4 MX. It's a disturbing sign of the new slowdown in evolution and technological competition that the two makers seem to be engaged in. Still, let's give credit where credit is due: the bang-for-the-buck ratio of the midrange solutions that have emerged since the end of 2007 is exceptional.