The GeForce 9600 GT launched with great fanfare last week, and right off the bat we saw that the card was an incredible deal. The 9600 GT has specifications similar to those of the GeForce 8800 GT in practically every respect except for the stream processor count, which is down from 112 to 64. However, that reduction seems to have a minor effect in today's games, and Nvidia's newcomer ends up performing very close to its big brother for much less.
We featured a $179.99 eVGA GeForce 9600 GT in our deal post last week on account that it cost no more than other cards yet was "factory overclocked" from 650MHz core and 900MHz memory speeds to 675MHz/900MHz. Today, we've found a faster card that actually costs even less: MSI's N9600GT-T2D512 OC, which is clocked at 700MHz/950MHz and is available at Newegg for just $174.99. This particular model is almost as fast as the $209.99 Palit card we tested, and the Palit card actually performs within two frames per second of the 8800 GT in Call of Duty 4 at 1680 x 1050.
Of course, just because the Palit NE/960TSX0252 costs $35 more than the aforementioned MSI card doesn't mean it isn't a great product, too. Palit's offering has slightly speedier 1000MHz memory, a dual-slot cooler with a distinctive yellow casing, HDMI and DisplayPort outputs in addition to two DVI ports, and a bundled copy of Tomb Raider Anniversary. Also, there's a frog in body armor on the box. If that's not enough to justify the higher price tag, we don't know what is.