The 9600GT doesn't disappoint at all. Performance is better than you would expect out of a card that carries the x600GT naming scheme, and if pricing is going to be as competitive as we've heard then this could be the next gen card to own. It could be a really good chance for 7900 users to finally jump to a cheap DX10 card that is actually capable of running DX10 games at a playable frame rate.
Pricing should come under the HD 3870 and well under the 8800GT. While the card tends to perform on par with the HD 3870, sometimes better and sometimes slightly worse, with the great success NVIDIA has been having over the past few years people simply feel more comfortable using an NVIDIA card instead of an ATI based one. NVIDIA also tend to partner up with more game companies it seems, meaning that ultimately newer games are made for NVIDIA and able to perform better on their cards.
It really is a bit of a touch decision between the HD 3870 and the 9600GT, especially since the HD 3870 has come down in price a whole heap in the past month. AMD offer monthly driver updates and the 8.3 Catalyst drivers due out in March are sounding pretty good at the moment. With that said though, the 9 series are what NVIDIA are going to be concentrating on in the performance department from now on, and they tend to bring us good increases when it comes to official drivers.
We have to also remember that this is an overclocked 9600GT and not a stock clocked one. With that said though, it's not overclocked majorly; we actually have an overclocked Zotac in the labs at the moment which carries with it some very nice clocks, and there's no doubt it's going to be interesting to see when we climb beyond 700MHz on the core.
Come launch day the 9600GT is probably going to be an extremely popular product. Like we mentioned before, 7900 users have been so happy with their cards that they really want to stay with an NVIDIA offering. The card should come in with some competitive pricing and plenty of stock to boot.
If you bought a HD 3870 recently I wouldn't be disappointed with your purchase. If I was a computer company on the other hand with a lot of HD 3870s in stock I would be a little worried, as like we said before, while the HD 3870 isn't a bad card people tend to feel very comfortable with NVIDIA these days, and there's a good reason for that as they continue to release quality product after quality product.