updated 08:25 am EST, Thu February 21, 2008
NVIDIA GeForce 9600 GT
NVIDIA's contribution to the ongoing Game Developers Conference is a new addition to its staple GeForce graphics card line. Marking one of the instances in which the graphics chip maker is launching its mid-range card first rather than its flagship, the 9600 GT is designed to replace the outgoing 8600 GT and dramatically improves performance: in addition to boosting the clock speeds for the core and memory from 540MHz and 1.4GHz to 650MHz and 1.8GHz, the 9600 doubles the number of onboard stream (pixel and geometry) processors to 64.
The combination dramatically improves performance, especially for visually intensive software such as Crysis. A single card can smoothly run most 3D at a 1280x1024 resolution, while two cards (in the Windows-only SLI mode) are virtually double the speed of an 8600 GTS and in some cases makes 3D usable on a 30-inch display's 2560x1600 resolution, the company estimates.
In official reference form, the 9600 GT ships with 512MB of video memory and dual dual-link DVI video outputs; as with most NVIDIA chipsets, most cards will be produced by third-party vendors and can change these specifications to add more memory, increase clock speeds, and change output options. The new GeForce cards should be available today and will normally be priced between $169 and $189; NVIDIA does not currently say which operating systems will be supported but often allows support for multiple operating systems.