Last year’s introduction of the GeForce 8600 GTS was supposed to bring DX10 graphics to the masses, but as we all know by now, the 8600 GTS’ performance in DX10 apps was rather underwhelming – unless you were willing to game at 1024x768, the 8600 GTS just didn’t have the memory interface or the shading horsepower to run DX10 games at adequate frame rates. We didn’t truly get a sub-$200 DX10 card that could deliver playable frame rates until the introduction of the Radeon HD 3850.
Today’s introduction of the GeForce 9600 GT raises the bar even further.
In comparison to its direct predecessor, the GeForce 8600 GTS, the 9600 GT delivers a performance improvement of 2X in DX9 apps, and often runs 2.5 times faster in DX10 games. This is a phenomenal jump in performance, and as you saw in our benchmarks, the GeForce 9600 GT is even faster than the GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB, which was a $300 graphics card last year. In comparison, GeForce 9600 GT cards are expected to sell anywhere from $169-$229.
When paired up against the competition from AMD, the GeForce 9600 GT continues to perform well. In stock form the GeForce 9600 GT ran up to 28% faster than the overclocked Radeon HD 3850 512MB board from HIS in DX9 apps such as F.E.A.R., Episode Two, and Company of Heroes. Generally as the screen resolution increased in these games, the 3850 closed the gap to as little as 4%. The 3850 delivered superior frame rates in Lost Planet DX9 and in Oblivion, the 9600 GT trailed the HIS card by as much as 6% in Oblivion and about 12% in Lost Planet. The GeForce 9600 GT ran anywhere from 9-12% faster than the Radeon 3850 in Call of Duty 4 as well.
The stock GeForce 9600 GT swept the overclocked Radeon HD 3850 in all of our DirectX 10 benchmarks.
Factory OC’ed boards pulled away even further from the Radeon HD 3870, suggesting that AMD will need to counter these boards with factory OC’ed 3870 cards. A quick glance at Newegg shows that HIS’ own overclocked 3870 board currently sells for $275. Depending on how fast that card is, that price probably needs to come down another $40-$50 to be competitive with the factory OC’ed 9600 GT boards.
Quite honestly, with just 64 stream processors we weren’t expecting much from NVIDIA’s GeForce 9600 GT. We knew it would be a strong competitor to the Radeon HD 3850, but we had no clue it would deliver performance that rivals the GeForce 8800 GT in some cases!
So how did NVIDIA manage to pull it off? Obviously the 9600 GT doesn’t have the pure shading horsepower of the 8800 GT, sporting just 64 stream processors compared to the 8800 GT’s 112, but other than the shading unit deficit the two GPUs are quite similar architecturally. Texture filtering and addressing capabilities are the same, as are the number of ROPs. In addition, they both offer the same peak memory bandwidth and the same z and color compression enhancements. This is important as we’re testing these games with the eye candy cranked up and with AA. In these types of situations, the GPU is often bound by its memory subsystem. Also keep in mind that the 9600 GT sports higher graphics core and stream processor clocks than the 8800 GT.
When you combine this with the OC’ed clocks found on the cards we tested, these 9600 GT cards actually offer more ROP fill and memory bandwidth than a bone stock GeForce 8800 GT board.
With the introduction of the GeForce 9600 GT, NVIDIA’s finally provided a compelling sub-$200 DirectX 10 graphics part. If you’re a gamer on a budget who craves the best performance in DX9 and DX10 games, the GeForce 9600 GT is the best card on the market right now.
Elemental: Fallen Enchantress Preview Elemental: Fallen Enchantress is a standalone expansion pack and follow-up to developer Stardock's previous game in the series, subtitled War of Magic. That 4X strategy game was highly-anticipated and slated to compete with games such as Sid Meier's Civilization V for your turn-based strategy play-time, but was released in an incredibly broken and unfinished state that it never fully recovered from. Lead designer Brad Wardell apologized profusely to fans and set out with his team to go back to the drawing board and try again.
Almost two years later, the result of that proverbial mulligan is currently undergoing closed beta testing. In today's article, Will reports his thoughts on how Fallen Enchantress is shaping up, and will tell you whether or not you should be keeping an eye on it as it nears release later this year.
The Elder Scrolls Online Details Leak - Should Fans Be Excited? The Elder Scrolls Online, long rumored to be in development, was officially announced yesterday. Still in development at Zenimax Online Studios, this MMO aims to combine traditional genre mechanics with the spirit and sensibilities, not to mention setting and lore, of the immensely popular series of single-player RPGs. Though the game is set for a full unveiling in the next issue of Game Informer magazine, what appears to be the entire cover story article has been leaked to the interwebs already. In today's article, you'll find summary and analysis of all the alleged details, as well as feast your eyes on the very first screenshots and concept art from the game. Of course, the burning question now is, should you be excited?
ANNO 2070 Review
The year is 2070. The majority of life on Earth was devastated when global sea levels surged after the melting of the polar ice caps. Swaths of previously habitable land are now deep underwater, and sovereign nations are a relic of the past. But there is still hope...
This city-building RTS/simulation game from Ubisoft tasks you with re-colonizing what little land areas are left on the planet following a global warming apocalypse. Does it have what it takes to be worthy of your time and money, or should it be cast out to sea with the rest of civilization? Find out in today's review!
Hear that? It's the sound of the largest computer chip manufacturer in the world churning out new processors to power your gaming rig. This week, Intel is launching their next generation of Core CPUs, code-named Ivy Bridge. Like last year's Sandy Bridge chips, they're low-power, quad-core powerhouses that also feature integrated graphics processors. Want to find out more? Maybe check out a whole bunch of performance benchmarks on both the CPU and graphics sides of things? Well you can, in today's review!
Intel Z77 Chipset & DZ77GA-70K Motherboard Overview
Looking forward to those new Ivy Bridge CPUs? In anticipation of their release later this month, Intel has already unveiled the new Series 7 chipsets designed especially to take advantage of what will be the 3rd-generation of Core processors. In today's article, we take a look at the architecture of the enthusiast variant, the Z77, and how it's used in the Intel Desktop Extreme DZ77GA-70K motherboard. Even if you're not particularly interested in the motherboard itself, you'll probably want to see some of the new features that come along with it, so read on!
Mass Effect 3 PC Review
This latest release from EA/BioWare is the final entry in their trilogy of sci-fi action RPGs, putting you in a dire situation: rally the troops to save Earth at all costs. There was a lot of hype surrounding the final act of what has been a vast and highly-customizable story-telling experience, and the reception among many hardcore fans has been less than stellar. Even people that haven't played the game have probably heard about all the nerd rage going on over Mass Effect 3's ending...
If you want to cut through all the crap and find out whether or not the rest of ME3 is worth playing, come check out Will's spoiler-free take on the first blockbuster game release of 2012.
Batman: Arkham City PC Review Batman: Arkham City is the sequel to 2009’s smash-hit action game Batman: Arkham Asylum. As the name suggests, you will be reprising your role as the Caped Crusader and going against an even larger 'prison' filled with Gotham's criminals and villains. A textbook example on how to do a proper sequel, Arkham City takes what worked in the original, excised or improved upon what didn’t, and elevated everything to an even greater scope. The PC version suffered from a few months of delay, but in that time, Rocksteady worked closely to NVIDIA to implement some familiar technologies from the last game, such as PhysX and 3D Vision, along with new DirectX 11 optimizations. But how well was the whole package executed? Read on to find out!
Saints Row: The Third PC Review Saints Row is one of most unique series of games to build upon the open-world action template forged by Grand Theft Auto, and has met with plenty of critical and commercial success since it began on consoles back in 2006. This latest iteration, titled Saints Row: The Third promises the most outlandish fun and freedom of customization of them all, and in a much more PC-friendly package than its predecessor. Does it live up to those expectations and, more importantly, is it worth the price of admission? Find out in Will's latest review!
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim PC Review The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is Bethesda Softworks’ latest offering in their series of epic fantasy RPGs, as well as one of the most highly-anticipated PC titles of 2011. As the Dovahkiin, or Dragonborn, prepare to take the fight to the mythical beasts that have returned to the realm after centuries of slumber, all the while exploring a huge and highly-detailed open world.
The PC version of the game promises enhanced graphical fidelity, standard RPG trimmings such as hotkeys and quick-save, as well as unbridled mod support, something we’ll all be thankful for once they release that SDK. Skyrim has already sold millions of copies and set records for play-time on Steam... Find out why in today's review, which happens to be one of the biggest and most in-depth articles on the subject out there!
L.A. Noire Complete Edition PC Review L.A. Noire, as the name clearly states, is a video game built on the tropes of one of the greatest periods of American cinema: film noir. Developed by the now defunct Australian developer Team Bondi and published by Rockstar Games, this title has been out on consoles for a full six months before finally making its way to the PC. This “Complete Edition” of the game features improved graphics, keyboard/mouse controls, and every bit of previously-released DLC for free. But was it truly worth the wait? Read on and find out!