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G94: Nvidia GeForce 9600 GT 512MB

Nvidia's GeForce 9600 GT graphics card

Manufacturer: Nvidia
UK Price (as reviewed): £120 (inc. VAT) MSRP
US Price (as reviewed): $189 (ex. Tax) MSRP

There's no doubt about it, Nvidia's GeForce 8800 GT has delivered the best bang for buck on the market since its launch, and it rightfully earned the title of bit-tech's best graphics card of 2007. It brings performance that gets close to long-time flagship—the GeForce 8800 GTX—to a price point that's somewhere between £150 and £190, depending on partner configuration.

But for many gamers, that's just too much to spend on a graphics card and nobody wanted to buy the frankly disappointing GeForce 8600 GTS. Nvidia went some way to filling the gaping hole in its line-up with the GeForce 8800 GT 256MB and the GeForce 8800 GS 384MB, but neither were really better choices than the ATI Radeon HD 3850 and Radeon HD 3870 graphics cards that collectively helped to turn things around for AMD at the back end of last year.

G94: Nvidia GeForce 9600 GT 512MB Nvidia GeForce 9600 GT
Look what arrived on our doorstep - Click to enlarge

Nvidia is hoping that, with today's GeForce 9600 GT launch, it will fix the gaping hole in its line-up, by once again offering a product with great value for money at well under £150. The big green graphics giant claims that the GeForce 9600 GT is even better value for money than the GeForce 8800 GT because it delivers more than a two-fold performance increase over the previous generation.

Let's not beat about the bush though, that's not much of a feat when you consider that the GeForce 8600 GTS was a pretty lacklustre product that wasn't much faster than what was already available, yet it was sold at an over-inflated price point on the premise of DirectX 10 support. But we all know what happened there – the entry level mid-range cards from both Nvidia and ATI could run games in DirectX 10 mode, but you'd have to turn all of the special effects (that make DX10 even remotely worthwhile) off.

G94: Nvidia GeForce 9600 GT 512MB Nvidia GeForce 9600 GT
G94 in the flesh...

In the run up to the launch, we received several GeForce 9600 GTs from Nvidia's partners, but it's hard to gauge how good a partner card is without looking at the card in its reference form. For today's article, we're going to be covering Zotac's GeForce 9600 GT AMP! Edition – one of the higher-clocked cards we've seen so far, and also a card clocked at Nvidia's reference speeds.

Before we get onto that though, we need to have a look at what's new in the GeForce 9600 GT...