At the risk of sounding like a stuck record, we have to point readers to yet another updated report on the state of the desktop graphics market. The scores are in for fanboys from both sides. Despite the generally optimistic outlook many of us had about the Radeon HD 3800 series, these cards failed to halt NVIDIA as it plowed to gain a massive 71% of the discrete graphics card market in the fourth quarter of 2007.
Overall, the desktop market has actually grown quite spectacularly, so all those doomsayers predicting the end of PC gaming may just have to wait a while longer. A small decrease in total revenue however from the third to fourth quarter hints that the growth is likely fueled by a drop in prices, the timing of which suggests that the arrival of the popular and attractively priced GeForce 8800 GT may have been the catalyst for this growth. If true, it's a pretty big sign of the market potential of consumers genuinely wanting more graphics horsepower at more sane prices instead of the super high-end stuff that costs more than an average console or even whole PC systems.
The arrival of the mid-range GeForce 9600 GT will go a long way towards pulling in the mainstream consumer. Although 'mainstream', we have seen it do quite decently in the latest games, provided that you're not overly ambitious. The 256-bit memory bus and 512MB frame memory certainly helps raise the bar on what constitutes mainstream and while ATI's Radeon HD 3800 series is capable of matching the newcomer on performance, prices have to be adjusted to stay competitive. Consumers will definitely benefit from this, though we can't say the same for ATI's (AMD) revenue.
In any case, even after our recent shootout involving a number of GeForce 9600 GT cards, there have been new review units coming our way, so without further ado, here's a slightly overclocked GeForce 9600 GT from MSI: