NVIDIA GeForce 8600 GTS and 8600 GT

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Our Test Systems and Video Performance

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HOW WE CONFIGURED THE TEST SYSTEMS: We tested all of the graphics cards used in this article on either an EVGA nForce 680i SLI motherboard (NVIDIA GPUs) or an Intel D975XBX2 board (ATI GPUs) powered by a Core 2 Extreme X6800 dual-core processor and 2GB of low-latency Corsair RAM. The first thing we did when configuring the test system was enter the BIOS and set all values to their default settings. Then we manually configured the memory timings and disabled any integrated peripherals that wouldn't be put to use. The hard drive was then formatted, and Windows XP Pro with SP2 and the April '07 DX9 update was installed. When the installation was complete, we then installed the latest chipset drivers available, installed all of the other drivers necessary for the rest of our components, and removed Windows Messenger from the system.  Auto-Updating and System Restore were also disabled, the hard drive was defragmented, and a 1024MB permanent page file was created on the same partition as the Windows installation. Lastly, we set Windows XP's Visual Effects to "best performance," installed all of the benchmarking software, and ran the tests.

The HotHardware Test System
Core 2 Extreme Powered


Processor -

Motherboard -






Video Cards -









Memory -


Audio -

Hard Drive
-

Hardware Used:
Core 2 Extreme X6800 (2.93GHz)


EVGA nForce 680i SLI
nForce 680i SLI chipset

Intel D975XBX2
975X Express 

GeForce 8800 GTS 320M (2)
XFX GeForce 8600 GTS XXX (2)
Asus EN8600GTS
XFX GeForce 8600 GT
GeForce 8600 GTS
GeForce 8600 GT
GeForce 7950 GT
Radeon X1950 XTX (2)
Radeon X1950 Pro (2)

2048MB Corsair PC2-6400C3
2 X 1GB

Integrated on board

Western Digital "Raptor"

74GB - 10,000RPM - SATA


OS -
Chipset Drivers -
DirectX -

Video Drivers
-



Synthetic (DX) -
DirectX -
DirectX -
DirectX -
DirectX -
OpenGL -

OpenGL -
 
Relevant Software:
Windows XP Pro SP2
nForce Drivers v9.53
DirectX 9.0c (April '07 Redist.)

NVIDIA Forceware v158.16
ATI Catalyst v7.3


Benchmarks Used:
3DMark06 v1.0.2
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. *
F.E.A.R. v1.08
Half Life 2: Episode 1*
Prey v1.2*
Quake 4 v1.3*

* - Custom Test (HH Exclusive demo)
 

For our first round of tests we took a look at Digital Video processing performance between the two competing core GPU architectures. "PureVideo HD" technology is at work here for NVIDIA and "AVIVO" for ATI.

WMV-HD Decode Acceleration
PureVideo Performance Explored

To illustrate CPU utilization when playing back WMV HD content, we used the Performance Monitor built into Windows XP. Using the data provided by Windows Performance Monitor, we created a log file that sampled the percent of CPU utilization every second, while playing back the 1080p version of the "Amazing Caves" video available for download on Microsoft's WMVHD site. The CPU utilization data was then imported into Excel to create the graph below. The graph shows the CPU utilization for a GeForce 8600 GTS and a Radeon X1950 Pro using Windows Media Player 10.

cpu_ut.png 

Both of the cards produced a "spikey" graph here, but the peaks and valleys produced by the GeForce 8600 GTS weren't quite as pronouced, which resulted in slightly lower CPU utilization in comparison to the Radeon X1950 Pro. 

DVD Video Quality: HQV Benchmark with PowerDVD 7
hwww.hqv.com/benchmark.cfm

Next up, we have the HQV DVD video benchmark from Silicon Optics. HQV is comprised of a sampling of SD video clips and test patterns that have been specifically designed to evaluate a variety of interlaced video signal processing tasks, including decoding, de-interlacing, motion correction, noise reduction, film cadence detection, and detail enhancement. As each clip is played, the viewer is required to "score" the image based on a predetermined set of criteria. The numbers listed below are the sum of the scores for each section. We played the HQV DVD using the latest version of Intervideo's WinDVD 8, with hardware acceleration and PureVideo extensions enabled.

hqv.png 

Both NVIDIA and ATI have made great strides in regards to standard DVD movie playback, to the point where they have almost rendered the HQV benchmark useless. The new GeForce 8600 GTS comes within 2 points of a perfect score in HQV, with the ATI solution not too far behind.

Tags:  Nvidia, GeForce, GTS, 860, force, GT, id, and

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