Drooling over a £300 or £400 graphics card is all very well, but most of us don't want to spend that much. For the more economically minded, the sub-£200 cards are where the real action lies.
Given the price, you'd be forgiven for thinking the £148 EVGA e-GeForce 7600 GT is just reheated old technology, but it's really a cut-down version of the GeForce 7900 GT architecture – very much a card for today. The memory interface has been halved from 256bit to 128bit, but clock speeds remain fairly impressive. The EVGA's figures are 560MHz for the core clock and 700MHz for the memory clock (or 1.4GHz when you take into account the DDR RAM). In this respect it's comfortably ahead of the 7900 GT model.
Even so, the 7600 GT doesn't get much room to strut its stuff, because the resulting memory bandwidth of 22.4GBps is rather pokey when compared with the 31.4GBps touted by the Sapphire Radeon X800 GTO. It has the same 12 pixel pipelines as its rivals, though, while the 0.09-micron manufacturing process helps make it a thoroughly efficient design. The card doesn't need extra power from the PSU (power supply unit) and the design doesn't generate an excessive amount of heat.
As ever with graphics cards, the proof of the pudding is in the frame rates. Testing across a range of game titles – Fear, Quake 4, Halo and Far Cry among them – we found the EVGA beat its sub-£200 rivals with some ease. Even the mighty 6800 GS lost by a clear distance, and that costs £10 more. EVGA's excellent rendition of the 7600 GT earns some of the praise for this.