Our Summary and Conclusion
Performance Summary: NVIDIA's new GeForce 8600 GTS and GT cards put up decent performance numbers throughout our suite of benchmarks, but they were outpaced in a number of situations by the Radeon X1950 Pro and GeForce 7950 GT. In 3DMark06 and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. the 8600s performed on-par or better than the last-gen cards we tested. However, in virtually all of the other tests the new GeForce 8600 GTS and GT cards fell short of the mark set by its older mainstream counterparts.
The new GeForce 8600 GTS and GeForce 8600 GT cards are a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, they offer all of the cutting edge features of the GeForce 8800 series, and then some. These new cards offer full support for DirectX 10, CSAA, high-quality anisotropic filtering, and they feature an enhanced PureVideo HD engine that puts them a step ahead of even the GeForce 8800. The GeForce 8600 GTS and GT will also hit the market before any competitive DX10 offereings from ATI, they run relatively cool and quiet, and their power consumption numbers are lower than current mainstream graphics cards. On the other hand, the GeForce 8600 GTS and GT don't perform on the same level as last-generation's GeForce 7950 GT and Radeon X1950 Pro, despite the similar price points currently. We should also note that the $220+ price tags of pre-overclocked GeForce 8600 GTS cards is within striking distance of the significantly more powerful GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB, which could be had for about $250-$279 at the moment.
Given their in-game performance and streamlined design, we suspect prices on GeForce 8600 GTS and GT cards will come down quite a bit in the coming weeks. Performance will likely be increased over time with more driver tuning as well, which will further enhance the product's value. As it stands today, however, its difficult to recommend the GeForce 8600 GTS or GT to gamers in light of their gaming performance alone, unless that is DX10 support is on your short list of requirements and these cards fit your budget. For home theature enthusiasts though, the GeForce 8600 GTS is arguably the video card to own. It's got the most advnaced video engine current available and at a price that won't break the bank. You can expect GeForce 8600 GTS card to be available almost immediately, with the 8600 GT and 8500 GT following over the course of the next few weeks.