The Current Price And Performance King
While it can be quantified, part of measuring performance is a matter of taste. Some people feel that saving energy is a valuable metric, so they might end up purchasing a hybrid vehicle or take the public transit to get around. Others are looking to get to point B as soon as possible so they purchase the fastest car money can buy. What might be great for a friend or your parents may not be what is best for you. In the end, you are the one who has to live with the purchasing decisions you make. Just remember that what seems like a great decision today may lead you to get frustrated in your games when you encounter something that causes your frame rates to plummet.
We try to give you tools to help when you are making final purchasing decisions. There are many options available to consumers today. While the high end is limited, as there can only be one winner, while the middle has a variety of specifications and price tags. When I buy hardware it is off the Internet because, I like finding good deals and want the largest selection available. I send in my rebates and generally spend that rebate check on something else when it comes in.
If you have been sitting on the fence about purchasing a new card, I will have to be honest with you... wait a little longer. If you have money burning a hole in your pocket, give the 320 MB version a go - it should last you much longer than an 8600. Frankly, I feel they are more suited for a home theater system than a gaming box. The 8800GTS has more horsepower than the 8600GTS, and if you do the math, it really has no more shaders than a 7900GTX (32 - 8 vertex and 24 pixel vs. 32 streaming processors in the 8600). Why move sideways when you know the future DX10 titles are just around the corner. You will have plenty of firepower to play Oblivion with the settings turned up at 1280x1024, and should be able to play the new games as well. Time will tell on those, but for the extra money, you could be saving yourself some heartache in the long run.
Whatever your lifestyle or where you come from, there is a right fit for you. In my opinion there isn't a better DX10 card on the market that fulfills the performance and price formula quite like the 320 MB version of the GeForce 8800 GTS. The overclocked Foxconn board we received for testing has high clock speeds and a nice set of extras in the box that make this a nice buy. If you feel you could do without the game pad and software, be my guest to find something a little less expensive. The performance should be about the same, but you could shave off $10-20 more.