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Nvidia launches new fast midrange 3D chip

New graphics chip from Nvidia

Asus' new EN9600 GT features Nvidia's new GeForce chip. CNET Networks

Nvidia launched its new GeForce 9600 GT 3D graphics chip this morning, aimed at mainstream PC gamers. For $175, the idea is that it will let you play any PC game on the market with reasonable image quality settings without requiring you to pay as much as you would for a standalone game console.

According to our review of the Asus EN9600 GT, which uses the chip, Nvidia has achieved its goal. The only game that gave it some trouble was Crysis, perhaps no surprise. What is surprising is that Nvidia's new chip beats ATI's next two closest competitors on our performance tests (conducted with diligence and class by our colleague Sarju Shah at GameSpot).

Like most 3D cards these days, the GeForce 9600 GT will let you play protected HD movies on your television, and it even supports HDMI via an included DVI-to-HDMI adapter. You can also pair two cards together via Nvidia's SLI technology and a supporting motherboard.