Now that ATI has officially delayed the release of its flagship R600 graphics core to the latter half of the year, the spotlight has turned to NVIDIA and the impending launch of its mid-range GeForce 8 cards. The details have been trickling in with each closer day and all eyes (and ears) are on the leader of the pack, the GeForce 8600 GTS, intended to be the fastest of the GeForce 8600 series.
From what we have gathered, the reference NVIDIA GeForce 8600 GTS 256MB will be using the G84 core, clocked to 675MHz and running at 2000MHz DDR for its memory, meaning the core clock is actually faster than the standard GeForce 8800 GTS. But why tell when we can show you? We managed to get our hands on an early review unit of the GeForce 8600 GTS and did some benchmarking of our own. Consider this an early peek into the likely performance of this new DirectX 10 mid-range series. First, a shot of the G84 core:
Our card came overclocked by default to 745MHz for the core and 2290MHz DDR for its 1.0ns Samsung DDR3 memory modules. While the lesser GeForce 8600 cards are not likely to require external power through a 4-pin Molex power connector, this is a must for the GeForce 8600 GTS. Other interesting details include the much reduced memory bus of 128-bit, a drastic drop from the 320-bit on the 320MB GeForce 8800 GTS.
Our usual graphics test system was used to benchmark the GeForce 8600 GTS. Consisting of an Intel Core 2 Duo E6700 (2.66Ghz) matched with an Intel D975XBX 'Bad Axe' motherboard, this high-end system had up to 2GB of DDR2-800 Kingston HyperX memory modules running in dual channel mode. A Seagate 7200.7 SATA 80GB hard drive completed the setup, installed with Windows XP Professional updated with Service Pack 2 and DirectX 9.0c.
The following graphics cards and their respective drivers were featured in the comparison. So far, ForceWare 100.95 beta drivers seem to be the earliest version to support the GeForce 8600 series properly, though at this point of publishing, there are newer beta versions available out there. We did not have scores for some of the older cards at higher resolutions like 1920 x 1440. For those cases, we have labeled them with a 'N.A'.
The benchmarks tested are listed below: