XFX 8600GT and 8600 GTS XXX Edition Video Cards

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Final Thoughts and Conclusions

The XFX GeForce 8600 GTS Bundle

My thoughts on GeForce 8600 series:

With the testing completed I’m left feeling a little flat from the performance of the 8600 GTS considering its price. Performance suffers a bit in some games but performs on par with last generation cards in others. The 128-bit memory interface doesn’t hurt AA performance as much as we thought it could. Arguably, gamers playing at lower resolutions are less likely to use AA but there are certainly plenty that do. BUT! This is supposed to be NVIDIA’s performance segment entry into the DirectX 10 fray, the bread and butter of the video card industry and I can’t help but feel they missed the mark and left the door open for AMD.ATI to step in. Overclocking a reference based model may give a little better value to the 8600 GTS line but our XXX card was not having any of that! The upside to the 8600 GTS is that it offers a little better performance over the elder, mainstream/performance 7000 series hardware in shader intensive applications. Also, performance in Rainbow Six: Vegas was good enough to satisfy even this extremely picky gamer by pushing the game at 1024×768 resolution without slowing during heavy action. If you want to game at higher resolutions without slow downs in Vegas (and presumably Unreal 3 engine games) you’re going to need to spend a bit more money.

Perhaps I am too pampered by the high-end but it seems to me that other than DirectX 10 capability, the lower power requirements, new pure video feature, and heat output are the few redeeming qualities of the 8600 GTS cards. Sure, the 3DMark scores look great but when it comes down to performing well in games I just don’t feel that it’s a good deal when you look at current pricing of the 8800 GTS 320MB. They can be found for as little as $219 after mail-in-rebate and offers another world of performance over the 8600 GTS!! Not only does this undercut the price of our 8600 GTS XXX it offers a much more enjoyable gaming experience and it is certain that you will get a longer lifespan out of the 8800 GTS 320MB.

The 8600 GT XXX I would consider a great value for the high end of the mainstream market. Our example overclocked to nearly the specs of the 8600 GTS XXX and performance was within a frame or two in the games we tested. With better cooling I have no doubt that it would have matched it in core speed. You’ll just have to be careful not to break it!

Noise is a bit of a factor for both of these cards. The 8600 GT had no fan throttling at all and was the loudest thing in our test system, the fan was at full song any time the machine was powered on which made for a long benchmarking session, although it comes in handy should you decide to overclock. The 8600 GTS fan on the other hand, will throttle once the video card driver is installed. During intense operation, the fan will throttle up to a level that would be annoying if it were stuck there. Both cards were still much quieter than the 7600 GT! Heat is not a concern with these cards, as they are not consuming much power at all so it is nothing like the 8800 series that will bake any other component near them. Power requirements are low with the 8600 GT needing a 300W PSU and 8600 GTS asking for a 350W. In SLI the recommendations step up a bit with a pair of 8600 GT’s at 350W and 8600 GTS at 450W.

Other than strictly gaming performance the improvements to power consumption and the PureVideo 2 engine show signs of major improvements over previous generations. With more and more consumers starting to get in High-Definition  video playback it means they need a card that can handle 1080i resolutions for HDTV and HD gaming.  The GeForce 8600 GTS and 8600 GT are going to be able to bring these features to consumers at a price point that many can now afford.  By making High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP)  technology support standard on the 8600 GTS it also helps protect digital entertainment content across both DVI and HDMI interfaces.

At $199 for the reference model 8600 GTS and $239 for our XXX edition from XFX I am urging you all to search pricing of the 8800 GTS 320MB before making your purchase decision.

The 8600 GT on the other hand is priced at $149 for reference models and $169 for the XXX edition card and will give you a good bang for your DirectX 10 buck, especially if you should decide to overclock it. Its a solid performer at the same price point that was once held by the great 7600 GT and 6600 GT before it.

Legit Bottom Line: NVIDIA once again beats AMD.ATI to the DirectX 10 punch, this time with a pair of mainstream cards. While the 8600 GTS is a bit off the mark the 8600 GT is an excellent value.

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