We learned last week that Nvidia is preparing a new mainstream card known as the GeForce 9600 GT for a launch in mid-February. The card is expected to be the first member of the GeForce 9 series and to feature 64 stream processors, a half a gig of RAM, and a 256-bit memory bus.
Today, we've noticed that Chinese hardware site Expreview has managed to appropriate and benchmark one of the cards ahead of schedule. Judging by Expreview's photo, the 9600 GT has a cooler similar to that of the existing GeForce 8800 GT, and it requires an external power connector. The site says the 9600 GT has a G94 graphics processor clocked at 650MHz, and that its memory is clocked at 900MHz (or an "effective" 1800MHz).
Performance-wise, the 9600 GT delivers about 83% of the performance of the 8800 GT in 3DMark06, scoring 10357 3DMarks to the 8800 GT's 12508 3DMarks. Expreview didn't run any other tests, but these results suggest the 9600 GT may be a potent contender in the mainstream arena.