Well, we're late in the product development cycle, so I've gotta say whichever one physically fits your system better. If you don't have external power connectors, get the HD2600. Do you NEED Anti-aliasing? The 8600 does it somewhat better.
Depends on what you plan on doing with it. Do you play a lot of games? From what I've heard, the 8600GT is typically ahead of the 2600XT when it comes to gaming benchmarks. Check some reviews and you'll see. Of course, new drivers have increased performance, but I don't think it's enough to drastically change the benchmarks.
The 8600GT is generally a better card, but for current gen gaming, the older 7900 series and X1950 series of Nvidia and ATI respectively will offer much better performance. They're also around the same price as the 8600/2600 cards. The problem I have with the 8600/2600 cards is the memory bus: It's only 128-bit as opposed to 256-bit of the 7900/X1950 cards, which shows its limits when you up the resolution or turn on any AA.
If you really want something that will last you for gaming, I'd suggest a 7900GS myself. You can find them for about the same if not slightly more than most 8600GT cards, and they're on par with the 8600GTS. DX10 games still haven't fully come into the mainstream, and the only cards that can handle the ones out are considerably more expensive.
If you're really set on one of those two cards however, or you're not a gamer, I'm going to suggest the 8600GT. EVGA has a step-up program that allows you to upgrade to a better card (say, an 8800 of some sort) and only pay the difference of the two cards if it's within 90 days of purchase of your first card.
well, I do play some games. But I'm not a heavy gamer.
Currently, I don't have any games that I play on my pc.
I'm just waiting for left4dead(halflife2 engine) game to come out next year. Most of games I play would be FPS.
Otherthan that, I'm mostly using my pc for multi tasking, running photoshop illustator and 3d rendering programs like solid works constantly.
I checked out 7900 series, they are all above $130 - or higher.
My original intention was to buy some card that is cheap, and be able to play few games like HL2, CSS, but people recommanded 8600gt and 2600xt.
Both of these cards will struggle a bit with games like Crysis. Everything else, should run pretty well, as long as you don't run at an insanely high resolution. I have that exact same 8600GT and it plays everything pretty good. I run at 1280x1024 resolution and I am able to put most games at high settings, with either 2 or 4x AA and 8 to 16x AF. Oblivion, for example runs about 30 fps with 4xAA, 8xAF and much of the graphical goodies turned on (such as far lands, tree details, full grass, some shadow effects, HDR is on... if you have played this, you know what they do...).
But, if I were to play at a higher resolution, I would likely need to reduce some settings to get the fps to stay up there.
From what I have heard, the 8600gt is a better card than the 2600xt, though not by much. I am also able to get a pretty nice OC out of the card too. I have it at 700 core (stock is 620) and 850 memory (800 is stock).
For the price, the 8600 is probably your best deal. You won't regret it for only $60. If you could up your budget a little higher, I would tell you to go with an 8800GS, as they can be had for about $110 (after MIR), but offer a lot more performance.
I'd take the HD2600XT over an 8600GT, but an 8600GTS over a HD2600XT. Shame you don't have better deals though as south of your border here we can get the 8800GS for $100 AR, and it is twice the card that these others are. Not even in the same league....... http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...