Futuremark 3dMark 05 And 06
No benchmark is complete without a 3dMark comparison. I won't spend a lot of time benching 3dMark at different resolutions, but rather let's have a quick look at the default settings and see if there's a trend that will stack up to our gaming results.
3dMark 05 shows a tight race, with the 8600 GT showing a small lead. I wouldn't read too much into it as 3dMark is rarely a precise reflection of actual performance, although it's interesting as a general performance indicator.
The 3dMark 06 results are even closer. These cards look suited to stand toe to toe against each other so far. On to the actual gaming benchmarks!
Let's start with the awesome new first person shooter/adventure game, Bioshock. We should point out that we tried to benchmark Bioshock with anti-aliasing enabled, but it didn't seem to work, so there are no AA benchmarks for this title. We also had to use the demo instead of the full version, as our full copy didn't arrive in time to test in this review.
At 1024x768, the game is very playable with all of the eye candy enabled on either card, although the Radeon looks to have a significantly higher average frame rate. This is a little surprising given the 100 MHz slower memory clock speed compared to the reference 2600 XT.
Unfortunately, it looks like both the Radeon 2600 XT and GeForce 8600 GT struggle to play this title above 1024x768. We will note, however, that lowering a few graphics options will make Bioshock very playable - and still very pretty - at higher resolutions such as 1280x1024.
Things are looking good for the 2600 XT so far. Let's have a look at another title, traditionally the GeForce's strong suit: Doom 3.