The Guru3D.com GeForce 8600 GT & GTS shootout with cards from: BFG Tech, Galaxy Tech, Point of View and XFX GeForce
Hey everyone and welcome to the spring release of NVIDIA's new mid-range graphics card line-up. What we are to bring you today is something quite extensive. We have an in-depth article planned with NVIDIA's new GeForce 8600 GT and GTS based graphics cards where participating board partners like Sparkle, eVGA BFG, XFX, Galaxy Technology and Point of View have all submitted a card. All these great manufacturers and new products in one big article. A shootout on the actual launch, how cool is that?
Unfortunately, it's now Monday the 14th as I write this and the boards from eVGA have yet to arrive thanks to, who else, UPS! Sparkle won't have their samples ready until next week, so they'll forfeit on this rather big article as well. We'll move forward with what's at hand and we'll even do a little SLI testing with the new cards as well. We'll test the XFX 8600 GT (XXX) and GTS (XXX) boards, the BFG 8600 GTS (OC) board, the Point of View 8600 GTS (EVO) board and from Galaxy Technology both a customized GeForce 8600 GT and GTS.
But first let's have a look at what is being announced today in-depth, followed by a little technical coverage, the good and bad followed by the bundles and pretty much everything you are used to here at Guru3D.com.
And now let the review begin!
Okay so what's happening today is that NVIDIA has released their mid-range DirectX 10 compatible product line. Despite the massive delay at CeBIT I was already able to confirm that NVIDIA's DX10 G84 and G86 cards were ready. NVIDIA, however, decided to postpone the launch to April 17th for various reasons.
Today is all about the GeForce 8600GTS, 8600GT and 8500GT graphics processors. NVIDIAs GeForce 8600GTS and 8600GT are G84-based GPUs and are targeted at the mid-range market. The lower-positioned G86-based GeForce 8500GT serves as the flagship low to mid-range graphics card. These three cards will be available either now or over the next two weeks. The 8600 GTS will serve a $199 to $229 price point, followed by the 8600 GT ($149 to $159) and the GeForce 8500 GT ($89 to $129).
The new product line is going to look like this:
GeForce 8800 GTX
GeForce 8800 GTS 640 MB
GeForce 8800 GTS 320 MB
GeForce 8600 GTS
GeForce 8600 GT
GeForce 8500 GT
GeForce 7600 GS
GeForce 7300 GT
GeForce 7300 LE
GeForce 7100 GS
As you can see, a lot of current DX9 graphics cards are going to be EOL (end of life) as the DX10 parts will replace them completely.
But wait, there's more. The OEM market will see two low-budget cards as well. There's hardy any specs available on them but they'll be the GeForce 8400 GS and 8300 GS with 450 MHz core clocks and 400 MHz memory clocks. Again, these two GPUs will only show up in OEM systems and probably will never make an appearance in your local hardware store.
GeForce 8500 & 8600 Specifications
To get you a better understanding of what we are dealing with let's have a look at some specs that I placed into a table.
GeForce 8500 GT
GeForce 8600 GT
GeForce 8600 GTS
Core clock (MHz)
Shader clock (MHz)
Memory clock (MHz) x2
Memory bandwidth (GB/sec)
Let's analyze a little. First off, the 8800 GTS and GTX are brilliantly performing cards. They have a lot power thanks to the sheer number of Stream processors (shader processors). The GTX has 128 units, the GTS cards have 96 shader units.
If you do some generic math you'd know I expected the mid range products to have 48 shader units, but that's not the case. Merely 32 units are present in the 8600 series and a very shallow 16 on the 8500. Now since we are looking at the 8600 cards today let's keep focus on that one. The 32 shader units inside the GPU is not a lot, but for a mid-range product it could be enough if you give the product the proper what I call "framebuffer performance". The memory on your graphics card is very influential when you look at its bandwidth (the data speed which the GPU can work (read/write/copy) in. So I was surprised to see a 128-bit bus as in 2007 we should have really moved towards a 256-bit bus. 256-bit memory is dirt cheap so that's just not a logical step from my point of view. It's simple, the difference between memory for 128-bit versus 256-bit is half the bandwidth and has a very intense effect on the overall framerate of your games.
I would not be surprised to see 256-bit memory bus mid-range products later on in this year. Next: what's the physical difference between the 8600 GT and GTS you ask? Nothing, except the clocks and likely internal GPU voltage. So if you receive a GT that can overclock well, you could be able to bring it close to GTS speeds and save 50 bucks. Really it's the same GPU yet specified slower. Also good to know, every feature that is present on the 8800 series is also available on this chip architecture. Please read our refernce GeForce 8800 GTX review for full documentation on these features.
So as you can understand the cards all will have full DX10 compatibility, which brings us to Microsoft Vista. I'll leave the driver discussion as it is right now but notice that only the 8600 GTS will have HDCP support straight out of the box.
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