Anyone with a low-end desktop in need of a 3D boost should be happy to hear that Nvidia updated its budget 3D card lineup yesterday. The 512MB GeForce 9500, which fared very well in reviews at Hot Hardware and PC Perspective, turns in faster performance than AMD's competing ATI Radeon HD 3650 card. Nvidia priced the 9500 GT at around $100, but cards available at Newegg are coming in between $70 and $90.
If you have modest ambitions toward playing 3D PC games (say, on a 17-inch LCD), if you'd like to build an HD-capable home theater PC, or you simply want to improve overall desktop performance by cutting your integrated graphics chip out of the equation, the GeForce 9500 GT looks like the clear choice in this price range, at least for the moment. The caveat, as usual with budget cards, is that if you spend just a little bit more, you'll usually find a more substantial improvement to 3D performance. Casual gamers can get by with these very low-end cards, but the more dedicated will want to spring for at least the $150 to $200 price range to see truly respectable 3D frame rates.