Building a silent PC or on the look-out for a quality mid-range graphics card offering? Gigabyte’s 8600GTS includes the best of both worlds. In addition to including a passive cooler, a free copy of Supreme Commander can be found here also. Of course the important question is: Does the overall performance warrant your attention?
When purchasing a lower-end card, overclocking becomes far more appealing. Let’s face it, overclocking an 8800GTX, for most people, is completely needless, as it’s already an incredible card. Luckily, Gigabyte’s 8600GTS did overclock a fair amount, although not on the memory. The stock clock is 675MHz, which we overclocked to 740MHz without breaking a sweat. Any higher is unstable though. 750MHz crashes quite promptly, but 740MHz passes ten loops of 3D Mark 2006 and also quick manual play-throughs of today’s included games.
The stock memory speed is 1GHz, which we managed to overclock to 1.04GHz. Hardly impressive, but at least the nice GPU core boost makes up for the lackluster overclocking here.
So what about the passive cooler? I don’t have other 8600GTS cards to compare to, but the cooling ability here is also less-than-stellar, but again, it’s not meant to be. At idle, the core settled in at 54°C and at maximum it hit 85°C. That’s not too cool, but it would suffice in your silent PC. By comparison, the 8800GTX card on hand idles at over 80°C.
When I first installed the 8600GTS, I wasn’t expecting to be blown away. As I walk away from this review, I can’t say I am impressed by any real stretch, nor am I too disappointed. There are a few things we need to take into consideration… what’s the main purpose of this card and how does it’s price compare to others on the market?
Gigabyte’s card retails for an average of $180, which is right in line with most of the competition. Some others are more expensive, some are less expensive. The lesser expensive ones do not include a passive cooler and come sans a game. So essentially what your extra $20 gives you, is Supreme Commander and complete silence. Not a bad deal when you look at it this way.
So from that standpoint, Gigabyte’s card is a good value, especially if you are planning to play SupCom and don’t currently own a copy. It’s a great game, I can assure you. I just happen to be horrible at it. But what about other cards out there? 7900GS cards as I mentioned earlier are quite comparable, although all of the ones I perused include a fan and also don’t offer any free game. If you don’t care about a game and don’t mind a slight performance decrease, the 7900GS won’t really let you down. It doesn’t include DX10 support, but who at this point in time needs it?
At this price range, it’s really up to you to decide what is worth it to you. Both 7900GS and ATI X1950 Pro cards offer similar performance for slightly less money, but don’t include a passive cooler or a game. Any of those cards would be good choices… it just all depends in what you are looking for. If you are interested in a solid mid-range offering that also happens to be dead silent, Gigabyte’s 8600GTS will not let you down.
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