Mainstream GeForce 8 Series Round-Up: MSI & Gigabyte

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Gigabyte GeForce 8600 GTS with Silent Pipe 3
Specifications
Model
GV-NX86S256H

Graphics Engine
NVIDIA GeForce 8600 GTS

Video Memory
256MB DDR3

Engine Clock
675MHz

Memory Clock
1.008GHz 

Memory Interface
128-bit

Max Resolution
2560 X 1600

Bus Standard
PCI Express X 16

DVI Output
Dual DVI-I

Adapter/Cable Bundled
Two DVI to VGA adapter
One HTDV/Video Out
Power Cable

Software Bundled
3D Game: Supreme Commander
Driver CD

Features
Powered by GeForce 8600 GTS GPU
Supports PCI Express
Microsoft DirectX 10 and OpenGL 2.0 support
Integrated with the industry's best 256MB GDDR3 memory and 128-bit memory interface
Supports SLI and PureVideo technology
Features dual DVI-I / D-sub (by adapter) / HDTV
Supports Dual Dual-link @ high resolution up to dual 2560x1600
Silent-pipe III passive cooling

The GIGABYTE GV-NX86S256H is built around a NVIDIA GeForce 8600 GTS GPU.  GIGABYTE keeps their version of the GeForce 8600 GTS clocked at reference specifications, running the GPU at 675MHz and the memory clock at 1.008GHz.  The card comes with 256MB of DDR3 memory with a 128-bit interface that delivers a maximum bandwidth of 32GB/s.  The GV-NX86S256H is a Dual DVI-I solution that supports a peak resolution of 2560x1600. There is also a connection that marries up to the included HTDV/Video Out block to deliver Y, Pb, Pr and S-Video outputs to accommodate various TV-Out environments.  Upon closer inspection, you may have also noticed that this card was designed with no supplemental power requirements even though a power adapter was provided in the retail package.  During normal testing, we encountered no issues with the GV-NX86S256H drawing all of its power from the PCI Express slot, however, when we dropped it into an ASUS M2N32 WS Pro motherboard along side a primary GeForce 8800GTX card, the system would not POST and the power alarm of the 8800GTX was triggered.  We're confident our Tagan 1000w power supply was having no issues powering the system, so we suspect a power drain across the two PCI Express slots was causing the issue.  We encountered no issues when we installed either MSI card nor a GeForce 7600GT, so we have to wonder if it would have been best for the GB 8600GTS to come with a supplemental power option.

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As a noiseless graphics solution, GIGABYTE had to equip the card with an adequate sink that will keep the components running within normal thermal limits.  In this case, they utilized their Silent-Pipe III which combines heat-pipe technology into a hefty heat-sink assembly that appears up to the task.  Essentially, the dual-slot solution ports itself outside the rear of the case, utilizing flat fingers to wick cooler air into the case and along the cooler's surface.  Using a unique pattern of notches and bends, the design encourages the airflow to be stirred up or become more turbulent, which is supposed to increase circulation across the surface area. For maximum cooling potential, the Silent-Pipe 3 was designed so 90% of the surface area is connected with the heat-pipe.

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