The New GeForce 8 Line-Up
As we've already mentioned, NVIDIA is fleshing out the GeForce 8 series with a number of new products over the course of the next few weeks. We've got a couple of GeForce 8600 GTS and GeForce 8600 GT cards in the lab and will feature them a little later in this article, but we wanted to show you what else NVIDIA has on tap.
The GeForce 8600 GTS is designed to hit the $199-$229 "sweet spot" of the market where large numbers of mainstream graphics cards are sold. Next in line is the $150-ish GeForce 8600 GT, which is a very similar product, albiet with lower GPU and memory frequencies, and even a different PCB. Then comes the sub-$130 GeForce 8500 GT, followed by the OEM-only GeForce 8400 GS and 8300 GS cards.
The GeForce 8600 GTS is built around a new unified, DX10-class GPU which is manufactured at 80nm and features 32 stream processors and 8 ROPs. If you remember, the flagship GeForce 8800 GTX sports 128 stream processors and the GeForce 8800 GTS 96. NVIDIA's reference specifications for the GeForce 8600 GTS call for a GPU clock speed of 675MHz, a shader (SP) clock speed of 1.45GHz, and 256MB of GDDR3 memory clocked at 1.0GHz (2GHz DDR) utilizing a 128-bit interface, for 32GB/s of bandwidth. NVIDIA's partners are free to offer GeForce 8600 GTS cards with higher out-of-box frequencies, however. In fact, the retail-ready cards from XFX and Asus we tested were clocked much higher than NVIDIA's reference specifications. Cards sport a slim, singe slot cooler, a pair of dual-link DVI outputs, an HD/TV video output, and require a 6-pin PCI Express supplemental power connection (NVIDIA recommends a 350W PSU for single card configurations and 450W for SLI). GeForce 8600 GTS cards are HDCP capable, but it's up to the discretion of board partners to include the necessary crypto-ROMs. And as the edge connector along the top of the PCB suggests, the 8600 GTS is SLI-ready, of course.
The GeForce 8600 GT and GTS are very similar in terms of their specifications, but there are a couple of notable differences in their implementations. The GeForce 8600 GT is outfitted with the same 32 stream processors and 8 ROPs, and 256MB of GDDR3 frame buffer memory riding a 128-bit interface. The GT's reference specifications, however, call for a 540MHz GPU clock, a 1.18GHz shader clock, and a 700MHz memory clock (22.4GB/s). The GeForce 8600 GT's lower frequencies also lower its power requirements; as you can see the card does not require supplimental power. The differences between the GT and GTS also allowed NVIDIA to use a smaller PCB.
As its name suggests, the GeForce 8500 GT is a step down from the 8600 GT. The GeForce 8500 GT is powered by a GPU that's outfitted with 16 stream processors but retains the 8 ROPs. NVIDIA's reference specifiactions recommend a GPU clock speed of 450MHz with a shader clock speed of 900MHz and 400MHz memory (12.8GB/s), also utilizing a 128-bit interface. Unlink the 8600 cards though, the GeForce 8500 GT uses DDR2 memory and most cards will likely be outfitted with twice the amount of RAM at 512MB. Outputs include a standard15-pin VGA out, DVI out, and an HD/TV video output. GeForce 8500 GT cards lack an SLI edge connector, but SLI is supported over the PCI Express interface.