The importance of tackling the mainstream graphics segment
While last year’s launch of the GeForce 8800 GTX and 8800 GTS was an important achievement for NVIDIA, it can be argued that the GeForce 8800’s little cousin, the GeForce 8600 GTS and 8600 GT is just as critical, if not the more important product for NVIDIA.
“Why?” you ask? Because while the GeForce 8800’s performance grabs the most press and headlines, it is the GeForce 8600 line that brings in the bulk of graphics card sales for NVIDIA and their board partners. System manufacturers like Dell and HP buy value and mainstream graphics cards like the GeForce 8600 in huge numbers. In addition, these value-priced cards are popular with consumers looking to upgrade their graphics while at the same time saving some money. After all, not many users are willing to budget $300-$500+ for a high-end video card.
Ultimately it is the sales of these budget cards that really swing the market share numbers for AMD and NVIDIA: there’s a reason why Intel holds the #1 spot in graphics and it certainly isn’t due to their performance.
The other reason why these cards are so critical for the industry is DirectX 10. Quite simply, the more DX10 hardware that’s available, the more game developers will feel compelled to produce quality DX10 content. The bottom line is there can be no DX10 games without the hardware to support it.
With that in mind today we’re going to be taking a look at some of the best GeForce 8600 GTS cards on the market.
If you’re looking for a new DirectX 10 capable graphics card, but you’ve only got $200 to burn NVIDIA’s GeForce 8600 GTS is pretty much the only game in town right now. While it’s true that in many cases it’s outperformed by older mainstream offerings by AMD and NVIDIA like the GeForce 7900 GS and Radeon X1950 Pro, in shader-heavy games like Oblivion and STALKER, the GeForce 8600 GTS more than holds its own against these cards, despite its narrower 128-bit memory interface. As more next-gen content debuts later this year, it’s plausible that this gap could widen even further.
But which GeForce 8600 GTS should you choose? That’s where today’s article comes in. We’ve rounded up six popular GeForce 8600 GTS cards from manufacturers ranging from Albatron to XFX. Some of these cards ship with dual-slot coolers, while others stick with NVIDIA’s reference heatsink/fan unit. Clock speeds also run the gamut from tame to extreme. The following chart summarizes the key specs of the players in today’s article:
|The GeForce 8600 GTS Cards Compared|
|Card||Core Clock Speed||Stream Processor Speed||Memory Clock Speed||Memory Size||HDCP||Length of Warranty|
|Stock GeForce 8600 GTS||675MHz||1.45GHz||1.0GHz||256MB||Yes|
|Albatron GeForce 8600 GTS||675MHz||1.45GHz||1.0GHz||256MB||Yes||2-years|
|BFG GeForce 8600 GTS OC2||720MHz||1.566GHz||1.11GHz||256MB||Yes||Lifetime|
|EVGA e-GeForce 8600 GTS SC||720MHz||1.56GHz||1.05GHz||256MB||Yes||Lifetime|
|XFX GeForce 8600 GTS XXX||730MHz||1.566GHz||1.13GHz||256MB||Yes||Double Lifetime|