There was a time when Nvidia’s mid-range was king – the old GeForce 6600 was a fantastic card, successfully combining gaming performance with an affordable price. But the 7600 series was disappointing, and the 8600s merely continue this downward trend.
The 8600 GT isn’t small or quiet enough to compare with the media-centre cards – it’s full-width so won’t suit a compact barebones system – and with the 8400 GS and 8500 GT doing the job adequately with HD video, there’s no reason to look any higher.
We therefore can’t really consider the 8600 GT as anything other than a mid-range gamer, and this arena is now so packed with fresh competition that older cards such as this and the 8600 GTS are beginning to look their age.
The GT is an 80nm part, with 289 million transistors and 32 stream processors. With its 540MHz core
clock and 700MHz GDDR3 memory, it managed just 19fps in our 1280 x 1024 Medium Crysis test. It fared a little better in Call of Duty 4: in our Medium test, it managed a playable 41fps, although High settings reduced that to 18fps. Older games such as Call of Duty 2 are within its performance range, which isn’t bad for such an affordable card.
However, the cooling fan is small and a bit whiney, and the price of $105 pits the 8600 GT against ATi’s similarly-priced HD 3650. Neither is hugely impressive, but with its support for DirectX 10.1, PCI Express 2.0 and its more impressive, faster memory bank, the HD 3650 makes Nvidia’s card look a bit dated.
The HD 3650 is quicker in Crysis, too, although its 22fps at Medium is still largely unplayable, and it can’t quite match the GT in Call of Duty 4.
Either way, we’d question the logic of spending money on cards such as these when the next level of performance is so close to hand.
For just $175, the HD 3850 offers a vast improvement, making Crysis playable and the 8600 GT look weak by comparison. The 8800 GS is also worth considering, and then there’s the 9600 GT (see page 71), which successfully hammers the final nail into the 8600 series’ coffin.
This Review appeared in the June, 2008 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine
Source: Copyright © PC Pro, Dennis Publishing