Mainstream GeForce 8 Series Round-Up: MSI & Gigabyte

Article Index

Performance Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: With FutureMark’s synthetic 3DMark06 benchmark, the GIGABYTE GeForce 8600GTS topped all of the cards tested, with the ATI Radeon X1950 Pro finishing a close second.  However, the lead shifted to the ATI Radeon X1950 Pro exclusively with the remainder of our actual in-game tests.  The biggest deltas were with Half-Life 2: Lost Coast, where the ATI Radeon X1950 Pro won by a wide margin, with the GIGABYTE GeForce 8600GTS trailing by an average of 40 FPS.  With the rest of the benchmarks, the ATI Radeon X1950 Pro’s lead was more nominal, averaging 7-8 FPS overall.  The MSI NX8500GT and MSI NX8600GT both performed predictably compared to the GeForce 8600GTS, however, the NX8500GT could not match the performance of the elder GeForce 7600GT.

 

GIGABYTE GV-NX86S256H

Of the three GeForce 8 series cards tested, this was the highest performing, as expected.  Additionally, it is also the highest priced, weighing in at $198.99.  For that price, users get a premium gaming title in Supreme Commander, a Silent-Pipe  III cooler and a card that can support DirectX 10 and SLI.  However, with the current state of DirectX 10 gaming (ie nearly nonexistant), the ATI Radeon X1950 Pro is still an attractive option.  The X1950 Pro was the decisive winner of all of the gaming benchmarks, supports CrossFire and comes in as low as $145.99 ($159.99 for the model we tested).  Considering the added cost for a silent cooling solution and a current gaming title, some buyers may be better off with a model that follows NVIDIA’s reference design if DirectX 10 is a must, as that too will cost a bit less in the long run and users can apply that savings to a second if the need arises.

  • Good Performance
  • SLI Capable
  • Retail Package
  • Good Overclocker
  • DirectX 10
  • Supreme Commander Game
  • Two Slot Design
  • Price/Value Ratio

MSI NX8600GT T2D256E

In regards to the MSI NX8600GT T2D256H, we find the same argument we made with the GIGABYTE GeForce 8600GTS applies here, perhaps even more so.  This model was slower than the GeForce 8600GTS and often fell in slightly faster than a GeForce 7600GT.  Factor in a price point of $156.99 and the ATI Radeon X1950 Pro still looks like a viable alternative at this stage of the game.  If DirectX 10 is an absolute necessity, then both NVIDIA 8600 series models have something to offer, with the GT easily matching GeForce 8600GTS' performance when overclocked.  However, if you are more along the lines of a casual gamer that doesn’t care too much about DirectX 10, higher performing alternatives exist at an excellent price.

  • Good Performance
  • SLI Capable
  • Single-Slot
  • Decent Overclocker
  • DirectX 10
  • No Games Included

MSI NX8500GT TD256E

Clearly, the MSI NX8500GT TD256H is geared for basic gaming at lower resolutions.  In each of our tests, this model was the slowest of the bunch, and stuggled to deliver playable frame rates at 1280x1024 with anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering enabled.  This card should do nicely with medium quality settings at 1024x768, however, which raises the question whether a DirectX 10 ready video card is really an advantage at this performance level.  If users are not concerned that much about higher-levels of image quality and just want to enjoy an occasional game, DirectX 10 support probably won't factor into their buying decision at this point in time.  With that said, a mere $6 more will get you a GeForce 7600GT which will deliver higher frame rates and should enable users to run slightly higher image quality settings as well.

  • SLI Capable
  • Good Overclocker
  • DirectX 10
  • Single-Slot
  • No Games Included
  • Price/Performance Ratio

In the end, it’s pretty clear that there is a lot to consider with all three of the cards we’ve looked at here today.  It’s not a clear cut decision and price and features all need to be taken into account when deciding which card is right for you.  What’s also unproven is how all of these cards will perform with a full-blown DX10 title, which is another factor to keep in mind.  Overall, when assessing the performance, features and cost of the three GeForce 8 series cards tested, the MSI NX8600GT TD256E proved to offer the best bang for the buck, but don't forget about the ATI Radeon X1950 Pro if you're looking for better in-game performance at a similar price point.

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