NVIDIA GeForce 8600 GTS and 8600 GT
Retail GeForce 8600 Cards: Asus, XFX, MSI
We got our hands on GeForce 8600 GTS and 8600 GT cards from Asus and XFX for the purposes of this article. The Asus card did not arrive in full retail trim, but the XFX products were fully boxed and ready to hit store shelves.
Asus' version of the GeForce 8600 GTS is dubbed the EN8600GTS S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Edition. It sports the same PCB, features, and single-slot cooler as the reference card pictured on the previous page. Asus does, however, take the liberty of installing a custom fan shroud compelte with imagery from the recently released game S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl. Asus plans to include the game in the full retail bundle, but it wasn't shipped along with our sample. The EN8600GTS also differs from the reference design in regard to its GPU and memory clock speeds. Asus has cranked the GPU clock up to 745MHz and the memory clock up to 1.145GHz.
In typical XFX fashion, the company has an entire line-up of GeForce 8600 GTS cards at the ready. The top-of-the-line model is pictured here, the XFX GeForce 8600 GTS XXX Edition. There are two other GTS cards also planned, each with lower clock speeds.
GF 8600GTS 730M 256MB DDR3 DUAL DVI TV PCI-E XXX
GF 8600GTS 720M 256MB DDR3 DUAL DVI TV PCI-E XT
GF 8600GTS 675M 256MB DDR3 DUAL DVI TV PCI-E
GF 8600GT 600M 256MB DDR3 DUAL DVI TV PCI-E XXX
GF 8600GT 540M 256MB DDR3 DUAL DVI TV PCI-E
GF 8500GT 450M 256MB DDR2 TV DVI PCI-E
GF 8500GT 450M 256MB DDR2 TV DVI PCI-E
As the 730M in its description implies, the XFX GeForce 8600 GTS XXX Edition sports a 730MHz core GPU clock; its memory is clocked at 1.13GHz. The XFX GeForce 8600 GTS XXX Edition also sports a custom fan shroud and a heavy duty retention bar that runs the length of the top edge of the PCB. Included in the box along with the card, we also found XFX's typical assortment of video and power cables, and adapters, along with a full version of Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter.
Here we also have XFX's GeForce 8600 GT XXX Edition. This card has a bit modr XFX-flavor so to speak. XFX's high-end 8600 GT sports a black PCB with neon-green DVI outputs. The small, single-slot cooler is also adorned with a custom XFX decal and as you probably expect, it too is pre-overclocked right out of the box. This card sports a 620MHz GPU with 800MHz memory.
We should also note that XFX is making some changes to their warranty policy to better serve the enthusiast community. In the days leading up to this launch, XFX had this to say redarding the company's warranty coverage...
"We understand that today’s enthusiast gamers are interested in trying to maximize the performance of all of their components to give them that extra competitive advantage.
XFX North America has revised its warranty policy to alleviate the concerns that enthusiasts may have against these efforts by enthusiasts and maintain the product’s protection as long as the there is no physical damage on the graphics card or any original components are missing.
The Double Lifetime Protection ensures that the coverage will be transferable to a second owner, which adds additional value for the XFX card.
These changes will cover all 6 series and higher XFX video cards. This new warranty policy will kick of on the 17th coinciding with new 8600 series launch."
Lastly we have MSI's NX8600 GTS. This was the only card of the bunch to feature a dual-slot cooler. At first, that may seem like a disadvantage, but the MSI NX8600 GTS was much quieter than the Asus card of either of the XFX cards. MSI also pre-overclockes their GTS right out of the gate with a 700MHz core and 1.05GHz memory. The higher than reference clocks give the MSI NX8600 GTS an edge over "stock" cards, but as you'll see on the pages ahead, it finished a tad behind the XFX and Asus offerings.