Introduction and Test Setup

Last week saw the announcement of the 8600 GTS, 8600 GT, and 8500 GT graphics cards from NVIDIA. We haven't yet gotten our hands on an 8500 GT, but we've added a few more performance tests in the meantime. A deeper look at the G84's video processing capabilities will also follow, as we have a working driver, player, and HD-DVD drive.

From a pure performance perspective, we were underwhelmed with the 8600 series. While there are cases where G84 performs well, such as in Oblivion and Rainbow Six, performance wasn't very impressive in other titles like Prey and Battlefield 2. With the two more intensive graphically intensive games showing more promise, we decided that further investigation was in order.

We have thrown two RTS and two more FPS games into the mix this time. Our lineup has filled out to include the very recent titles S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and Supreme Commander. We also have two returning titles in F.E.A.R. and Company of Heroes. Hopefully these additions will give us a better idea of where G84 stands.

Our test setup is nearly the same, but we have added one more graphics card to the mix: the Radeon X1900 XT 256MB. This card is a little older than the rest, but its price has fallen enough to put it in competition with the 8600 GTS. Of course, the X1900 XT 256MB might become harder to find as time goes on, and it doesn't support DX10 or offer 100% H.264 decode offloading. However, those who are only concerned with maximum performance in current games at a given price will certainly want the comparison to be made.

The only other difference is that we are now using the publicly available GeForce 8600 driver from NVIDIA's website. We still don't have an update for GeForce 7 users, in spite of the fact that the 8800 and 8600 hardware now shares a Windows XP driver.

System Test Configuration
CPU: Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800 (2.93GHz/4MB)
Motherboard: EVGA nForce 680i SLI
Chipset: NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI
Chipset Drivers: NVIDIA nForce 9.35
Hard Disk: Seagate 7200.7 160GB SATA
Memory: Corsair XMS2 DDR2-800 4-4-4-12 (1GB x 2)
Video Card: Various
Video Drivers: ATI Catalyst 7.3
NVIDIA ForceWare 93.71 (G70)
NVIDIA ForceWare 97.94 (G80)
NVIDIA ForceWare 158.16 (8600)
Desktop Resolution: 1280 x 800 - 32-bit @ 60Hz
OS: Windows XP Professional SP2

Without any further ado, let's get right in to the performance tests.

Company of Heroes
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  • Imnotrichey - Tuesday, April 24, 2007 - link

    Are you going to include any heat, power usage, or noise levels in this eventually? Or is there a future article coming soon?

    Very dissapointed in the 8600 :( But still interested to see how it compares heat, power, and noise to the 8800. Also why no 8800 GTX or GTS 640 in the benchmarks? It would be interesing to see how much more you get in games for spending 2 times the money
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, April 25, 2007 - link

    there are already Anandtech articles comparing the GTS 320MB to the other 8800 cards. Plus an 8800GTX would have squashed the scale of the cheaper cards too much to see the differences in the graphs. Reply
  • Sunrise089 - Tuesday, April 24, 2007 - link

    Normally Anandtech will talk about heat, power, and noise when they review a specific manufacture's card, rather than a reference design. We all know most retail parts will use the same cooler nVidia supplies with the reference part, but some might not, and that (or overclocking) would change the results. Reply
  • bearxor - Tuesday, April 24, 2007 - link

    Derek,

    How much longer until we get video benchmarks? Also, PLEASE include a 8500 in that roundup. I've no interest in any kind of 3D capability from the 8500. It will be put in a HTPC to only run Vista MCE and no other games or anything running on it.

    I've been holding off on buying one until I can see how one performs in a HTPC enviorment, please make that happen, even if you have to buy one off of the egg or something.

    Thanks!
    Reply
  • Ajax9000 - Wednesday, April 25, 2007 - link

    Seconded!

    BTW, some preliminary benchmarks at http://www.driverheaven.net/reviews/msibfg8600/med...">http://www.driverheaven.net/reviews/msibfg8600/med... ... but they use a high-end system -- really, who on earth is going to put a US$900+ 130W TDP processor into an HTPC if they can use (say) an E6420 and not have the same problems keeping it cool and quiet.

    Anandtech, please do the upcoming video benchmarks on a "mid"-spec system.
    Reply
  • SniperWulf - Tuesday, April 24, 2007 - link

    <rant>
    would it really have killed you to add 1 more SP cluster? i mean 192-bit path to memory would have helped these benches quite a bit.
    </rant>

    Reply
  • psychobriggsy - Tuesday, April 24, 2007 - link

    I paid £72 for a Sparkle 8600GTS, which after tax and conversion is ~$122. Admittedly I ordered an 8600GT and they shipped sent me the GTS by mistake ... but graphics cards have been notoriously overpriced in the UK so it was by far the best option regardless.

    As I'm upgrading from a Radeon 9500 system, I don't think I'll be too upset, and the video offload will be very much appreciated.

    But yes, the prices should have been lower, and the suffixes different.

    8600GT should have been a GS @ $129. 8600GTS should have been the GT @ $169, and there should have been a 256bit memory bus GTS at $199 (with 48 or 64 shaders).

    Regardless I think the cards will be at these price points within a couple of months, with either an 8800GS or an 8600GTX card added. It's just a complete non-upgrade option for 7600 owners.
    Reply
  • Genx87 - Tuesday, April 24, 2007 - link

    With ATI's lack of a high end card, their high end card has been pushed into the mid ranged pricing model.

    The bottom line is the 8600GTS is a replacement for the 7600GT in Nvidia's line up for the mid range. Both cards debuted in the same price range and both performed nearly as well as last generations high end.

    In a perfect world the X1900 wouldnt be in that price range, but this is all they have to offer. Comparing the 8600GTS to the 7600GT, which this card was designed to replace. It is a no brainer which one wins. The market situation will correct itself once the 7900s flush out of the channel and AMD comes out with their own mid range card and drop the X1900s from their lineup.

    That being said, i think Nvidia most likely has a card to fill the performance gap between the 8600GTS and the 800GTS 320.

    Reply
  • munky - Tuesday, April 24, 2007 - link

    The x1900xt 256 has been available for a little over $200 even before the release of the 8800 series, nevermind the 8600 series. Nvidia must take its competitors products into account, because DX10 capability alone will not sell these cards.

    The reason the 6600gt was such a success is not because it compared favorably to the mediocre fx5700, but mainly because it offered better performance than anything else in its price range, even more expensive cards like the 9800pro. This is clearly not the case with the 8600gt and gts. The fact that it beats a 7600gt is nothing excetional.
    Reply
  • blckgrffn - Tuesday, April 24, 2007 - link

    AMD/ATI did the same thing the last time around - they left a huge gap between midrange and high end that nvidia handily filled with the 7600 series, and one they barely filled (X1600XT) before moving on to a whole new generation. It really hurt AMD/ATI last time around, and nvidia isn't careful, they could get burned this generation too.

    Heres to hoping AMD/ATI and nvidia both have great ~$130 DX10 cards later this year...
    Reply

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