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


View All Comments

  • xpose - Wednesday, April 25, 2007 - link

    How does H.264 video decoding work? Do I need to use a special powerdvd with special nvidia drivers for this to work? Or can I simply just get the latest nvidia drivers and use whatever media player I want to take advantage of this? Reply
  • RamIt - Wednesday, April 25, 2007 - link

    Why no benchmarks for source based games?
  • Yongsta - Wednesday, April 25, 2007 - link

    There should be a 8700 series to bridge the gap, since the 8600 is a dissappointment. Gone are the days when you could get a $150 card and get the performance of a $300+ card. Ti4200 (overclock to Ti4600) or Radeon 9500 (softmod to 9700), etc! Reply
  • ssidbroadcast - Wednesday, April 25, 2007 - link

    Does anyone else think that us enthusiasts are expecting too much out of nVidia? The 8600 line clearly beats out it's 7600 counterpart, I think it might be expecting too much for the g84 to handily outdo a 7900 or an X1950. These are the BEST of last year, ppl! The best their engineers could do and only a year ago, or less! Why should we expect a MID-RANGE card too wallop the HIGH-RANGE of last year?

    Just a thought.
  • Live - Wednesday, April 25, 2007 - link

    Because they have done so for the last years?


    Traditionally, successful performance-mainstream parts at $199 price-points offered performance level similar to former flagship offerings released a year or a little more before. This was the case with the GeForce 6600 GT, which could easily outperform the Radeon 9800 XT; the same was true for the GeForce 7600 GT, which could offer performance of the GeForce 7800 GT at much lower price-point; the Radeon X1950 Pro outperformed even the Radeon X1800 XT in certain cases, while the GeForce 7900 GS provided same level of speed in games as the GeForce 7800 GTX. When it comes to the GeForce 8600 GTS, we cannot see it leaving the GeForce 7950 GT behind, not talking about more powerful GeForce 7900 GTX.
  • Spoelie - Wednesday, April 25, 2007 - link">

    For namesake alone they should have called the 8600GTS the 8600GT,
    and the 8600GT the 8600GS

    which would indicate there performance a bit more out of a history perspective. Dunno if the 8600GTS provides the jumps expected from the last generation
  • shabby - Tuesday, April 24, 2007 - link

    Its been available on newegg since the other 8600 cards came out last week. If nvidia's partners shipped those cards to stores why couldnt they ship one to you guys? Reply
  • mongo lloyd - Tuesday, April 24, 2007 - link


    At the same time, we wouldn't recommend against the 8600 series, as it does provide best in class video decode performance that will enable more computer owners to experience HD content without dropping frames.

    Have you actually tested this? Seeing as it was bloody madness to get it to work half-assedly on 6xxx and 7xxx cards (not even including the fact that nvidia screwed up support for it in every other driver release, and not disclosing that fact, or even acknowledging that they had broken it), it seems not so smart to just take it at face value.

    I swear the quality of Anandtech articles has been declining...
  • Hippiekiller - Tuesday, April 24, 2007 - link

    Heres to hoping they make an 8700 series, or AMD can fill in the performance gap between these cards and the 320 8800.

    I am not willing to pay 300+ anymore.
  • ochentay4 - Tuesday, April 24, 2007 - link

    please explain me why do i need h.264 100% decoding on hardware when there are free decoders that already do that (and nvidias charges you for this cards like if you where buying a rocket) and the most important thing is that it is supposed that you will be using these cards when relatively new pcs that can already play h.264 without a single frame drop... see, dx10 is for vista, and h.264 is for hd video, so its likely that the user has a really good pc.

    my 2 cents!

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