Nvidia GeForce 9500 GT review
Can't handle gaming, and beaten by cheaper media cards too.
Review Date: 13 Feb 2009
Reviewed By: Mike Jennings
Price when reviewed: £39 (£45 inc VAT)
Value for Money
The 9500 GT is basically the cut-off point for true gaming cards. Just £9 above it you'll find the HD 4650, capable of playable frame rates in the demanding Crysis at medium settings; the 9500 GT can't manage this, so from this card down you're looking solely at the media end of the market.
That's not to say it isn't worth considering, though. With a mere 32 stream processors and a 550MHz core clock, coupled with 256MB of memory, it might not be the meatiest card out there, but it will just about play the latest games at low settings - even if that does miss the point of buying a new game. More importantly, it doesn't require a power input and it will bear most of the brunt when decoding a Blu-ray disc for playback - a major factor for a media-centre PC.
In our tests the ageing, single-core CPU hovered around the 60% mark during the movie, which is around 8-10% better than the 9400 GT - perfectly watchable, in other words. Unfortunately for Nvidia, though, it's a good deal higher than the 30-40% CPU load of both the ATI media cards, which begs the question: why would you buy the 9500 GT over its more efficient rivals?
And we don't have an answer. It isn't fast enough to seriously consider it a gaming card in any respect - unless you play only retro classics - yet it also isn't as good as the very cheapest card in the group at HD media decoding. So, all things considered, we'd recommend you save yourself a few pounds and stick with the bargain HD 4350 for your entertainment system.
Author: Mike Jennings
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