Even though sub $100 hardware is very high volume, we don't often see a lot of heated debate surrounding them. People don't usually get excited about mainstream and low end hardware. The battle for who can run the newest game with the coolest effects at the highest resolution, while not applicable to most people, tends to generate quite a bit of interest. There is a lot of brand loyalty in this industry, and people like to see the horse they backed come out on top. Others, while not siding with a particular company, jump on the wagon with what ever company has the fastest part at any given time. I, myself, am a fan of the fastest hardware out at any given time. I get excited by how far we've come, and how much closer the top of the line gets us to the next step. Keeping up with top of the line hardware is more like attending a sporting event or taking in a play: the struggle itself is entertainment value.

For some, knowing what's best does have relevance. For many many others, it is more important for to keep track of hardware that, while cheap, is as capable as possible. And that is where we are today.

At the end of July, NVIDIA released their GeForce 9500 GT. This part (well, the GDDR3 version anyway) is almost a drop in replacement for the 8600 GT as far as the specifications go. In fact, the prices are nearly the same as well.

No, it isn't that exciting. But even these very low end add in cards are head and feet above integrated graphics solutions. While we'd love to see everything get more performance, the price of the 8600 GT has dropped significantly over time. We haven't gotten to a point where people who aren't willing or able to spend above $100 on a graphics card can get good experiences on modern games. At least software and hardware complexity tend to parallel each other to the point where the disparity in how new a title can be played on cheap hardware isn't getting any worse.

So with so many similarities, why release this part? There won't be an endless supply of G84 hardware going forward. Thus the G96 comes along with nearly the same specs selling at the same price. The decreased die size of the 65nm G96 (as opposed to the 80nm G84) will also help to increase profits for NVIDIA and board partners on this hardware while they sell at the same price point. There are rumors that NVIDIA will even move the G96 to 55nm later this year further increasing their saving and possibly enabling passive cooling solutions. But we will have to wait for a while yet to find out if that will actually happen.

Before we get into the 9500 GT itself, let's take a look at the state of the industry that brought us to this point.

Mainstream Graphics Today
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  • ThermoMonkey - Wednesday, October 8, 2008 - link

    Don't you think this card is better Suited for HTPC???

    I mean it has an SPDIF input to pass audio over HDMI and that wasn't even mentioned! Wouldn't that provide 8-channel SPDIF (dependent of the sound card)

    Sure its a nice budget card that can game a bit. But I would never use this card for gaming when I can still buy a 8800GTS 512 G92 for $150 that games much better.

    Maybe I missed something in the article, anyone have any comments?
  • BernardP - Monday, September 8, 2008 - link

    Simply because it is the most powerful card that fits in my case. It's true that price/performance is much better wih ATI HD3850 and NVidia 9600GT, but these cards are too long to fit in a smallish ATX case with all three hard-disk slots filled-up. As a casual gamer, I have to choose between getting a short video card or taking one of the HD's out...I get the shorter card.
  • nubie - Monday, September 8, 2008 - link

    That is one choice, if all or some of your drives are 250Gb you can upgrade to 500GB for ~$75 and then choose a better card.

    An argument could also be made for getting a bigger case (if you need 3 drives now you are maxed for space already) or using a 5.25" to 3.5" adapter for your other drive.

    I can see your point, but if you are going to get a video card at all you might as well solve your case problem and then get a video card that delivers a good value for the price you pay.

    Your case sounds poorly designed, for example, this PC http://sportcompactpc.com/web/">http://sportcompactpc.com/web/ http://www.overclockersclub.com/reviews/gt3/">http://www.overclockersclub.com/reviews/gt3/ and an external dual HDD enclosure* can handle a Dual Slot 8800GTS (any card up to 235MM, it will supply 150watts for the video card) and 3-4 HDDs.

    I would bet that setup takes up less volume than your current case (it can also hold a second hard drive or a PCI card)

    If you don't want to change cases you can choose to pay more money for an inferior card based on your situation, or simply buy a card that will fit your case and delivers the same performance for less money.

    *(Like a WD 1TB book for example, or one using Firewire or SATA/eSATA)
  • BernardP - Tuesday, September 9, 2008 - link

    Thanks for these thoughts, At this point, I am not willing to spend much on a two and a half year old machine. As soon as the new ATI HD46xx is out, prices should fall on the 9500GT. I want to go with NVidia as I currently have NVidia integrated graphics and NVidia drivers offers better scaling options at non-native resolutions, a must for me.
  • Kougar - Monday, September 8, 2008 - link

    Hi guys.

    I know you get plenty of these, but even if not all the errors can be caught out the gate, certainly they should've been fixed three days after release. I'd use the quote option but it won't function on this PC with either browser, sorry. Such as:

    "People who don't already know what is and is not possible aren't going to buy into the hype."

    Following the context of the paragraph, they're one to many negatives in here. Ya just said the reverse of what you intended.

    "Alternate" was meant to be "alternately" on page 3.

    And worst of all, your specifications chart on page three is labeled "9600GT", when clearly it should have been labeled 9500GT. ;)

    This is not Dailytech, and I know y'all both love to dictate through voice recognition software, but that just makes the issue of Editing the articles afterwards all the more important. I didn't have time to read past page 3 so there are likely more errors to be found...


  • Megaknight - Monday, September 8, 2008 - link

    I really hope AMD does a better job than Nvidia with the 46xx series. 9500GT has almost the same performance as 7600GT, 2 generations older!
  • toyota - Monday, September 8, 2008 - link

    I hate to tell you but even though the 9500gt is wimpy, its still about twice as fast as 7600gt in modern games.
  • psybience - Sunday, September 7, 2008 - link

    There is a mistake on this article on page 3. The 9600 GT actually has:

    64 stream processors
    1625 mhz shader clock
    16 ROPs
    650 mhz core clock
    256bit memory bus width
    1800 mhz memory clock
  • toyota - Monday, September 8, 2008 - link

    well it is anandtech and they are not known for their proof reading...
  • JarredWalton - Monday, September 8, 2008 - link

    While you are correct on the 9600 GT, this article is about the 9500 GT. That's part of the *huge* problem with NVIDIA right now. The G9x parts never should have been called 8000 series GPUs, but at launch the 8800 GT 256/512 didn't get the 9000 name because they weren't universally better than the 8800 GTX/Ultra. Now we have 8600 and 8800 parts renamed to the 9000 series just to make them seem like they aren't two generations old.

    9800 GT == 8800 GT 512
    9600 GSO = 8800 GS (a limited release 8800 GT with 96 SPs and 12 ROPs)
    9500 GT = 8600 GT Overclocked

    If you look at the mobile world, things become even worse. http://www.anandtech.com/guides/showdoc.aspx?i=335...">Here's a quick overview. 8700M = 9600M, 8600M = 9500M, 9800M = 8800M ... just change a few letters on the end.

    Honestly, I think NVIDIA has somehow come to the conclusion that obfuscation and confusion in their part naming is a good thing. Maybe not good for the consumer, but apparently it helps their partners and their bottom line. If not, why do they keep doing it? ATI at least seems to have calmed down on renaming and overlapping names. Not that performance is always clear when we're comparing stuff like 2600, 2900, 3600, 3800, and 4800 parts.

    The real failure, however, is what Derek indicates in this article: the huge gap between the entry-level $75 parts and the $100~$150 parts is inexcusable. Last-gen parts that sell for $100 are still twice as fast as "new" parts selling for $75. These $75 parts are really only worth $50 if you look at the performance offered.

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