Who Are These For?
While GeForce 8600 GT may have DirectX 10 hardware, it does not seem suited for those looking for good image quality accompanied with high frame rates. While it can produce 62 frames a second at a resolution of 12x10 with AA enabled in Doom 3, the card can only produce 64 frames with trilinear filtering and no antialiasing. At $150 I would come to expect a little more out of the card. Looking at the clock speeds, the differences are not so different but the performance differences are.
The cards however do have a lot to offer in terms of video playback. It is a small card and relatively quiet. It would make a good card for a home theater PC and if the 8500 GT is as good at decoding video, it might even make for a better choice with its passive cooler and $100 price tag. Some models may have HDMI interfaces making them even more attractive for this use.
Gigabyte's passive cooled 8500GT
I will say this, if you have a limited budget of around $200... if you want decent performance... if you want the possibility of playing DX10 based games... and if you want to play your movies on your desktop, then the GeForce 8600 GTS is a card that can suit your needs. Looking at what is on the market currently, the X1950 Pro Ultimate we tested earlier this year is still attractive at $175.
Perhaps a final driver and some more tests can alter out opinions of this offering from Nvidia. We had high expectations for this price segment as we look at Nvidia's previous naming schedule of "GT." Compared to cards with twice as much hardware and cost, it is easy to see that the 320 MB version of the GeForce 8800 GTS offers 50-90% more performance (depending on the test). With the extra tweaks to the core functionality, die shrink, and higher clock speeds we just assumed performance of that of previous GT versions (6 and 7 series). I will not pass final judgments any of these cards until we conduct all of the tests. For now, we are not positive if this is truly a good value or an FX series card trying to beat a Ti 4200.
|GeForce 8800 GTX||$560|
|GeForce 8800 GTS 640 MB||$400|
|GeForce 8800 GTS 320 MB||$290|
|GeForce 8600 GTS||$199-229|
|Sapphire Radeon X1950 Pro Ultimate||$175|
|GeForce 8600 GT||$149-159|
There are many cards ready for purchase beyond those from those we had in for testing including offerings from Asus, BFG, Biostar, EVGA, Foxconn, Gigabyte, MSI, PNY and XFX.