Power Consumption and Conclusions
So, the performance of the GeForce 9600 GT is impressive, but at what cost does that gaming power come at in terms of REAL power?

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As you might expect, the BFG 9600 GT does in fact use more power than any other graphics card included in our in-game testing.  At idle that difference is as high as 37 watts when compared to the HD 3850 and as little as 6 watts when compared to the aged 8600 GTS card.  At load, the 9600 GT again uses the most power but the HD 3870 uses only 7 fewer watts, a difference of 2.8% in our test configuration.  The performance of the 9600 GT over the HD 3870 is easily better than 3% on average, making the NVIDIA 9600 GT a better performance/watt option. 


Performance of the BFG GeForce 9600 GT needs to be viewed from a couple of angles: compared to AMD’s competitively priced graphics cards and to the previous generation mid-range card from NVIDIA.  First looking at the most pertinent comparison, the 9600 GT can clearly be seen as a superior choice to the AMD Radeon HD 3850 256MB and Radeon HD 3870 512MB.  That is, if NVIDIA’s partners can keep the prices at the level we were promised.  The 9600 GT does have a big advantage over the HD 3850 we tested, with twice as much frame buffer, 512MB versus 256MB.  But, even when giving the RV670 architecture the extra memory as the HD 3870 does, the 9600 GT is winning the majority of our comparisons. 

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When we compare the 9600 GT to the previous generation from NVIDIA, the 8600 GTS in our case, the difference is simply amazing.  While the 8600 and 7600 were very similar in terms of performance, with simply the addition of DX10 features as the main differentiator, that isn’t a problem in this case.  I think that many users that currently have 7600-series or 8600-series installed on there systems are staring wide eyed at the performance graphs with their wallets open.  The simple fact is that the 9600 GT is a return to the days of actual performance gains from generation to generation: and we love it.

Pricing and Availability

The estimated MSRP of the BFG 9600 GT is about $189 – right in the mix of where NVIDIA is hoping the majority of 9600 GTs will fall.  If NVIDIA and BFG are successful in implementing the pricing structure that we outlined earlier, the 9600 GT will be priced between the HD 3850 and the HD 3870 – a great spot to be at when you are running faster than BOTH of those cards in most cases. 

There have been rumors of 9600 GT delays and problems over the past weeks, but that is usually all forgotten once the product is released.  Availability of the product is supposed to be very good now that it’s here though; partners we have talked to are saying that stock will be good for this release.  If that’s true, prices will stay low, and our recommendation for the card will remain. 

Update: The 9600 GTs are starting to show up in stock in several places, such as Newegg.

Final Thoughts

The G94 came in pretty much under the radar for the majority of the press and enthusiast community.  We didn’t expect much out of the 9600 GT – after all the 8800 GT and GTS were impressive in their own right and we had come to expected the “x600” cards to be a bust.  To my surprise, the 9600 GT turned out not only to be competitive with AMD’s Radeon HD 3800 series but is in contention for the best price/performance and performance/watt we have seen in quite some time.

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PS: Be sure to check out what happened to our FIRST samples of the NVIDIA 9600 GT when the ran into the world of thermite


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