NVIDIA has established a pretty impeccable track record when it comes to delivering kickass GPUs in the $150-$200 price segment. With the exception of the shader model 2.0 era (which was led by the Radeon 9500 Pro), each generation of mainstream offerings from NVIDIA has dominated their particular segment when it comes to price and performance.
Among gamers and hardware enthusiasts, NVIDIA’s most popular mainstream offerings have been the GeForce4 Ti 4200 and, most recently, the GeForce 6600 GT.
The GeForce4 Ti 4200 was perhaps the most spectacular mainstream graphics card of all time. This is because the GeForce4 Ti 4200 shared all
the key features found in NVIDIA’s flagship GeForce4 Ti 4600 card, right down to the GeForce4 Ti 4600’s 4 pixel pipeline/2 texture units per pixel pipeline architecture with dual vertex shaders to boot. The only differences between the Ti 4200 and the Ti 4600 were clock speeds and price; the Ti 4600 shipped with a 300MHz graphics core and 325MHz (650MHz effective) memory, while the Ti 4200 was clocked 50MHz slower at 250MHz, with either 250MHz (500MHz effective) or 222MHz (444MHz effective) memory. In terms of price, the Ti 4600 retailed for $400, while the Ti 4200 offered a much more affordable price tag of either $179 or $199 when launched.
Could you imagine paying $200 for a GeForce card that had all the same features as NVIDIA’s latest flagship offering, only it runs 50MHz slower on the graphics core and 75MHz on the memory in today’s market? Didn’t think so.
The GeForce 7600 GT
GeForce 7600 GT and 6600 GT
The GeForce4 Ti 4200 was a wildly successful card for NVIDIA, it was the upgrade of choice for countless gamers. In fact the GeForce4 Ti 4200 delivered so much performance that many gamers held on to their cards until well after the first round of DirectX 9 hardware was launched by ATI and NVIDIA – many of these gamers were content with their Ti 4200’s performance in their favorite games and didn’t really feel the need to upgrade until more demanding games came along like Far Cry and Half-Life 2. It wasn’t unheard of for a Ti 4200 user to get two or more years of life out of his card before he felt the need to upgrade. In fact we wouldn’t be surprised if many of you were still running your Ti 4200 card to this day!
The GeForce 6600 family was equally successful, delivering incredible performance in a $200 package: the 6600 GT in particular was capable of delivering performance equal to a Radeon 9700 Pro or 9800 Pro in DX9 games despite its narrower 128-bit memory interface. According to NVIDIA, over a million 6600 GPUs have shipped since launch, ushering in shader model 3.0 to a wide audience. Based on Valve’s latest survey results, the GeForce 6600 is the fifth most popular GPU among Half-Life 2 users, ranking right up there with the Radeon 9800 and 9600 (which hold the top two spots due in large part to the ATI/Half-Life 2 bundle) in terms of percentage.
The fact that NVIDIA went well over a year since launching the GeForce 6600 without a GPU to replace it is a testament to the GeForce 6600’s capabilities.
With such big shoes to fill, does the GeForce 7600 GT live up to its predecessors? Let’s find out!