Nvidia has lifted the embargo and sent us the official details of the mid and low end versions of its GeForce 8 series of graphics cards - amusingly after its partners had all sent us final details of their variants. The new cards bring Windows Vista DirectX 10 support to the lower end of the graphics market.

The GeForce 8600 is available in GTS and GT variants, while the low-end 8500 is available in GT flavour. PNY has already announced a partnership with PC World to immediately sell the 256MB DDR3 variant of the 8600GTS.

All the new cards feature Nvidia's PureVideo HD processing technology and can handle H.264 HD decoding as well as HD DVD and Blu-ray discs. There's full support for DirectX 10's unified shader instruction set and support for Shader Model 4.

Jeff Fisher, head of Nvidia's GPU unit, paid tribute to Vista as the reason it would sell bucketloads of these cards. "With Windows Vista being the first operating system to require a GPU to fully realise its graphics potential...GPUs are no longer a luxury required only by hardcore gamers," he said.

Microsoft is clearly happy that Nvidia is making DirectX 10-compatible cards as people will now be able to at least play some games with half-decent performance on their Vista box.

"DirectX 10 means higher performance and better looking PC graphics," enthused Chris Donahue, manager of 'Games for Windows' at Microsoft.

"We are thrilled to see that Nvidia has taken the first step to help application developers and end users adopt the newest 3D graphics API, by making DirectX 10-compliant GPUs available from top-to-bottom for every type of desktop PC user."

Nvidia even wheeled out a Blu-ray pimping quote from Don Eklund, head of advanced technologies at Sony Pictures to support the launch. But we don't want you to fall asleep, so it won't appear here.

More interesting is that Nvidia has made a podcast available about the launch and has announced pricing below.

  • Nvidia GeForce 8600 GTS ­ $199-229 (up to £114)
  • Nvidia GeForce 8600 GT ­ $149-159 (up to £79)
  • Nvidia GeForce 8500 GT ­ $89-129 (up to £64)