MSI Overclocked GeForce 8600 GTS Review
By Gabriel Torres on June 1, 2007


Introduction

GeForce 8600 GTS is the fastest mid-range video card from the new GeForce 8 family from NVIDIA, targeted for users that want a performance higher than GeForce 8600 GT and are willing to pay more for this performance gain. This model from MSI, NX8600GTS-T2D256E OC, comes factory-overclocked, meaning that it will achieve a performance higher than the standard GeForce 8600 GTS, and also supports HDMI. Check it out.

MSI GeForce 8600 GTS
click to enlarge
Figure 1: MSI Overclocked GeForce 8600 GTS.

The main difference between GeForce 8 and GeForce 7 families is the adoption of DirectX 10 on GeForce 8 family. What this means is that they will support the next generation of games to be released starting this year. It also means that instead of using separated shader units for each kind of shader processing (pixel, vertex, physics and geometry) video cards from this family use a unified shader architecture, where the shader engines can process any one of these tasks. On our NVIDIA GeForce 8 Series Architecture article you can find a more in-depth explanation about this.

So far AMD has announced their ATI Radeon HD 2000 family – which also supports DirectX 10 and uses unified shader architecture –, however mid-range products will be only available in late June, i.e., one month from now. This leaves mid-range cards from GeForce 8 family like GeForce 8600 GTS without real direct competitors.

We can find this model from MSI costing around USD 200 and at this price range there is no mid-range video card from ATI/AMD available. We call “mid-range” all video cards that use a 128-bit memory interface and “high-end” all video cards that use a 256-bit memory interface or higher. However there are entry-level high-end video cards at this price range, like Radeon X1950 Pro. So we may somewhat consider Radeon X1950 Pro to be a competitor to GeForce 8600 GTS, as they are in the same price range, even though GeForce 8600 GTS uses a 128-bit memory interface and Radeon X1950 Pro uses a 256-bit one.

The basic difference between GeForce 8600 GTS and GeForce 8600 GT is the clock used. Thus we can consider GeForce 8600 GTS a “turbo GeForce 8600 GT”, as both cards have 32 processing engines.

The standard GeForce 8600 GTS runs at 675 MHz and accesses its 256 MB GDDR3 memory at 2 GHz (1 GHz transferring two data per clock cycle) through a 128-bit interface, so it can access its memory at a maximum transfer rate of 32 GB/s.

This model from MSI comes overclocked, with the graphics chip running at 700 MHz and its memory running at 2.1 GHz, with a maximum memory transfer rate of 33.6 GB/s. So this video card has its GPU running 3.7% faster than the standard GeForce 8600 GTS and it accesses its memory 5% faster than the standard model. So this overclocking is not that high.

Also if you install the drivers that come with this video card you will have access to D.O.T. or Dynamic Overclocking Technology, where you can overclock your video card simply checking a box on the video properties.

So this video card is a product targeted to users that want an overclocked video card to achieve a higher performance but don’t want to go through the hassle of overclocking the video card themselves.

GeForce 8600 GTS has 32 shader processors running at 1.45 GHz, the same amount used on GeForce 8600 GT (on GT they are running at 1.18 GHz, though).

For a full comparison between GeForce 8600 GTS and other chips from NVIDIA, please read our tutorial NVIDIA Chips Comparison Table. On ATI Chips Comparison Table you can compare them to competitors from ATI/AMD.

On Figures 2 and 3 you can see the reviewed card from MSI.

MSI GeForce 8600 GTS
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Figure 2: MSI overclocked GeForce 8600 GTS.

MSI GeForce 8600 GTS
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Figure 3: MSI overclocked GeForce 8600 GTS, back view.

MSI NX8600GTS-T2D256E OC

As you could see from the pictures posted in the previous page, this video card uses a fancy cooler that blows the hot air generated by the video card to outside the computer, thus helping to keep the computer inside cool. The side effect is that this cooler makes the video card to use two slots on the motherboard and on the case, killing the PCI or PCI Express slot right next to it.

We disassembled this cooler to take a look, see Figure 4. The base is made of copper, with a copper heat-pipe connecting the base to the aluminum fins. The aluminum heatsink touches the memory chips.

MSI GeForce 8600 GTS
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Figure 4: Cooler used on MSI overclocked GeForce 8600 GTS.

In Figure 5, you can see this video card without its cooler.

MSI GeForce 8600 GTS
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Figure 5: MSI overclocked GeForce 8600 GTS without its cooler.

This video card uses four GDDR3 512-Mbit 1.4 ns chips from Samsung (K4J52324QE-BJ1A) as you can see in Figure 6, making the 256 MB of memory this video card has. These chips can officially run up to 2 GHz (1 GHz x 2) and since on this video card the memory chips are running at 2.1 GHz they are already overclocked, running 5% above their official spec.

MSI GeForce 8600 GTS
click to enlarge
Figure 6: Samsung GDDR3 512-Mbit 1 ns chip.

This video card supports HDMI and it comes with one DVI-to-HDMI adapter and one HDMI cable, so you can connect it directly to your HDTV set with the best quality possible (assuming that your HDTV set has a HDMI input, of course).

This video card doesn’t come with any game. In Figure 7, you can see the video component cable, the S-Video cable, the two DVI-to-VGA adapters, the DVI-to-HDMI adapter and the HDMI cable.

MSI GeForce 8600 GTS
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Figure 7: Cables and adapters that come with this video card.

Main Specifications

* Researched at Shopping.com on the day we published this review.

How We Tested

During our benchmarking sessions, we used the configuration listed below. Between our benchmarking sessions the only different device was the video card being tested.

Hardware Configuration

Software Configuration

Used Software

We adopted a 3% error margin; thus, differences below 3% cannot be considered relevant. In other words, products with a performance difference below 3% should be considered as having similar performance.

3DMark03

3DMark03 simulates DirectX 8 and 9 games. Even though this program may be considered “old”, we ran it to see how the tested video cards perform on older games. Since we are comparing mid-range cards, we decided to run this program in two resolutions, 1024x768 (which is considered low for today’s standards and thus providing a simulation for low resolution) and 1600x1200 (which provides a simulation for high resolution). At each resolution we simulated two scenarios, first with no image quality enhancements enabled (this scenario we called “low”) and then with anti-aliasing set at 4x and anisotropic filtering set at 4x (this scenario we called “high”). The results you check below. All video cards listed below were running with the default clock rates defined by the chip manufacturer except the cards marked with “OC”, which are cards that are factory-overclocked.

GeForce 8600 GTS

3DMark03 Professional Edition 3.6.0 -1024x768 Score Difference
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 20100  
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 18236 10.22%
Radeon X1950 Pro 256 MB (PowerColor) 18175 10.59%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 17211 16.79%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 15741 27.69%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 14487 38.75%
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 13663 47.11%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 10574 90.09%
Radeon X1600 XT 256 MB (HIS) 10271 95.70%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 9557 110.32%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 8984 123.73%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 8935 124.96%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 8124 147.42%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 7359 173.13%
Radeon X1300 Pro 256 MB (ATI) 6385 214.80%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 5593 259.38%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 4179 380.98%

GeForce 8600 GTS

3DMark03 Professional Edition 3.6.0 - 1600x1200 Score Difference
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 11393  
Radeon X1950 Pro 256 MB (PowerColor) 11222 1.52%
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 10538 8.11%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 9695 17.51%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 8797 29.51%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 8450 34.83%
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 7556 50.78%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 5429 109.85%
Radeon X1600 XT 256 MB (HIS) 5385 111.57%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 5255 116.80%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 5086 124.01%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 4497 153.35%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 4313 164.15%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 4011 184.04%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 2915 290.84%
Radeon X1300 Pro 256 MB (ATI) 2712 320.10%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 2076 448.80%

GeForce 8600 GTS

3DMark03 Professional Edition 3.6.0 - 1024x768 - AAx4. AFx4 Score Difference
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 11675  
Radeon X1950 Pro 256 MB (PowerColor) 11262 3.67%
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 10742 8.69%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 10131 15.24%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 9119 28.03%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 7980 46.30%
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 7602 53.58%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 5592 108.78%
Radeon X1600 XT 256 MB (HIS) 5396 116.36%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 4873 139.59%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 4844 141.02%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 4635 151.89%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 4605 153.53%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 3894 199.82%
Radeon X1300 Pro 256 MB (ATI) 3376 245.82%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 2617 346.12%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 1745 569.05%

GeForce 8600 GTS

3DMark03 Professional Edition 3.6.0 - 1600x1200 - AAx4. AFx4 Score Difference
Radeon X1950 Pro 256 MB (PowerColor) 6472 6.83%
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 6058  
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 5612 7.95%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 5259 15.19%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 4639 30.59%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 4276 41.67%
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 4110 47.40%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 2714 123.21%
Radeon X1600 XT 256 MB (HIS) 2691 125.12%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 2320 161.12%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 2237 170.81%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 2217 173.25%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 2162 180.20%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 1917 216.01%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 1212 399.83%
Radeon X1300 Pro 256 MB (ATI) 1038 483.62%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 837 623.78%

3DMark06

3DMark06 simulates DirectX 9.0c (Shader 3.0) games and it also puts HDR (High Dynamic Range) into the equation to calculate its final score. So it simulates the most high-end games available today. Since we were comparing mid-range cards, we ran this program in two resolutions, one low (1024x768) and one high (1600x1200). The results you check below. All video cards listed below were running with the default clock rates defined by the chip manufacturer except the cards marked with “OC”, which are cards that are factory-overclocked.

GeForce 8600 GTS

3DMark06 Professional Edition 1.10 - 1024x768 Score Difference
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 7248  
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 7002 3.51%
Radeon X1950 Pro 256 MB (PowerColor) 6198 16.94%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 6154 17.78%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 5743 26.21%
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 4292 68.87%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 4192 72.90%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 3369 115.14%
Radeon X1600 XT 256 MB (HIS) 3295 119.97%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 2927 147.63%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 2860 153.43%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 2763 162.32%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 2213 227.52%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 2046 254.25%
Radeon X1300 Pro 256 MB (ATI) 1920 277.50%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 1357 434.12%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 741 878.14%

GeForce 8600 GTS

3DMark06 Professional Edition 1.10 – 1600x1200 Score Difference
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 4793  
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 4607 4.04%
Radeon X1950 Pro 256 MB (PowerColor) 4496 6.61%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 4041 18.61%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 3707 29.30%
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 2923 63.98%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 2765 73.35%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 2117 126.41%
Radeon X1600 XT 256 MB (HIS) 2086 129.77%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 1796 166.87%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 1784 168.67%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 1781 169.12%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 1281 274.16%
Radeon X1300 Pro 256 MB (ATI) 1100 335.73%

Quake 4

Quake 4 uses the same game engine as Doom 3 and since we are comparing mid-range cards, we decided to run this program in two resolutions, 1024x768 (simulating a low resolution) and 1600x1200 (simulating a high resolution), first with image quality set at “low” and then with image quality set at “high”. We upgraded this game to version 1.3 and run the id_demo001 net demo that comes with this version. Click here for more details on how to use Quake 4 to benchmark a system. The results you check below and are given in frames per second. All video cards listed below were running with the default clock rates defined by the chip manufacturer except the cards marked with “OC”, which are cards that are factory-overclocked.

GeForce 8600 GTS

Quake 4 1.3 - 1024x768 - Low Score Difference
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 123.25  
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 123.21 0.03%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 119.93 2.77%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 114.53 7.61%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 109.14 12.93%
Radeon X1950 Pro 256 MB (PowerColor) 106.73 15.48%
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 85.44 44.25%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 79.65 54.74%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 77.86 58.30%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 74.81 64.75%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 66.54 85.23%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 61.90 99.11%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 55.69 121.31%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 46.40 165.63%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 35.03 251.84%

GeForce 8600 GTS

Quake 4 1.3 - 1600x1200 - Low Score Difference
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 80.55  
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 77.30 4.20%
Radeon X1950 Pro 256 MB (PowerColor) 67.88 18.67%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 67.55 19.25%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 65.14 23.66%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 61.34 31.32%
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 44.18 82.32%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 41.01 96.42%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 39.59 103.46%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 37.63 114.06%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 33.65 139.38%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 29.63 171.85%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 28.01 187.58%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 23.02 249.91%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 16.95 375.22%

GeForce 8600 GTS

Quake 4 1.3 - 1024x768 - High Score Difference
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 122.21  
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 120.14 1.72%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 117.08 4.38%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 112.95 8.20%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 110.23 10.87%
Radeon X1950 Pro 256 MB (PowerColor) 100.20 21.97%
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 78.24 56.20%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 75.27 62.36%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 71.89 70.00%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 70.76 72.71%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 60.53 101.90%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 58.80 107.84%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 49.15 148.65%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 42.87 185.07%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 32.15 280.12%

GeForce 8600 GTS

Quake 4 1.3 - 1600x1200 - High Score Difference
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 78.95  
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 75.51 4.56%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 65.99 19.64%
Radeon X1950 Pro 256 MB (PowerColor) 63.35 24.63%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 62.23 26.87%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 59.99 31.61%
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 41.05 92.33%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 39.05 102.18%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 37.10 112.80%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 35.94 119.67%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 30.75 156.75%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 28.93 172.90%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 25.62 208.16%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 21.47 267.72%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 15.76 400.95%

F.E.A.R.

F.E.A.R. is a heavy game and we used its internal benchmarking module. We upgraded it to version 1.08 and since we are comparing mid-range cards, we decided to run this program in two resolutions, 1024x768 (simulating a low resolution) and 1600x1200 (simulating a high resolution). We set “computer settings” to “maximum” and then ran each resolution in two scenarios, first with “graphics card” set at “low” and then with this item set at “maximum”. Let’s take a look at the results, given in frames per second. All video cards listed below were running with the default clock rates defined by the chip manufacturer except the cards marked with “OC”, which are cards that are factory-overclocked.

GeForce 8600 GTS

F.E.A.R. 1.08 - 1024x768 - Low Quality Score Difference
Radeon X1950 Pro 256 MB (PowerColor) 398 55.47%
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 268 4.69%
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 256  
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 247 3.64%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 216 18.52%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 193 32.64%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 186 37.63%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 167 53.29%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 139 84.17%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 121 111.57%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 114 124.56%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 94 172.34%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 83 208.43%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 66 287.88%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 38 573.68%

GeForce 8600 GTS

F.E.A.R. 1.08 - 1600x1200 - Low Quality Score Difference
Radeon X1950 Pro 256 MB (PowerColor) 196 63.33%
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 123 2.50%
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 120  
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 115 4.35%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 99 21.21%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 89 34.83%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 89 34.83%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 75 60.00%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 62 93.55%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 58 106.90%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 54 122.22%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 42 185.71%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 38 215.79%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 31 287.10%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 17 605.88%

GeForce 8600 GTS

F.E.A.R. 1.08 - 1024x768 - Maximum Quality Score Difference
Radeon X1950 Pro 256 MB (PowerColor) 77 18.46%
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 65  
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 62 4.84%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 56 16.07%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 51 27.45%
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 50 30.00%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 46 41.30%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 40 62.50%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 33 96.97%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 29 124.14%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 27 140.74%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 27 140.74%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 26 150.00%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 26 150.00%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 10 550.00%

GeForce 8600 GTS

F.E.A.R. 1.08 - 1600x1200 - Maximum Quality Score Difference
Radeon X1950 Pro 256 MB (PowerColor) 37 37.04%
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 27  
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 26 3.85%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 24 12.50%
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 24 12.50%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 23 17.39%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 22 22.73%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 17 58.82%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 14 92.86%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 13 107.69%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 12 125.00%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 12 125.00%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 11 145.45%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 11 145.45%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 4 575.00%

Far Cry

Far Cry is a heavy game based on the Shader 3.0 (DirectX 9.0c) programming model. We’ve updated the game to version 1.4. To measure the performance we run four times the demo created by German magazine PC Games Hardware (PCGH) and the results presented below are an arithmetic average of the collected data. We used the HardwareOC Far Cry Benchmark 1.7 utility to help us collecting data.

Since we are comparing mid-range cards, we decided to run this program in two resolutions, 1024x768 (simulating a low resolution) and 1600x1200 (simulating a high resolution). At each resolution we simulated two scenarios, first with no image quality enhancements enabled and graphics details set to “maximum” (this scenario we called “low”) and then with anti-aliasing set at 4x, anisotropic filtering set at 16x and graphics details set to “ultra” (this scenario we called “high”). On all scenarios we set the rendering engine to Shader 3.0. The results, given in frames per second, you check below. All video cards listed below were running with the default clock rates defined by the chip manufacturer except the cards marked with “OC”, which are cards that are factory-overclocked.

GeForce 8600 GTS

Far Cry 1.4 - 1024x768 - Maximum Details Score Difference
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 145.00  
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 141.84 2.23%
Radeon X1950 Pro 256 MB (PowerColor) 139.29 4.10%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 131.39 10.36%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 129.20 12.23%
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 128.86 12.53%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 118.14 22.74%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 97.75 48.34%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 89.96 61.18%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 85.77 69.06%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 81.60 77.70%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 67.03 116.32%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 60.84 138.33%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 50.01 189.94%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 34.90 315.47%

GeForce 8600 GTS

Far Cry 1.4 - 1600x1200 - Maximum Details Score Difference
Radeon X1950 Pro 256 MB (PowerColor) 112.29 37.44%
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 81.70  
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 78.86 3.60%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 75.56 8.13%
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 71.84 13.72%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 68.21 19.78%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 61.09 33.74%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 49.39 65.42%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 46.17 76.95%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 45.07 81.27%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 40.88 99.85%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 34.52 136.67%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 30.56 167.34%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 25.62 218.89%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 17.65 362.89%

GeForce 8600 GTS

Far Cry 1.4 - 1024x768 - AAx4. AFx16. Ultra Details Score Difference
Radeon X1950 Pro 256 MB (PowerColor) 109.38 6.23%
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 102.97  
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 98.33 4.72%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 87.83 17.24%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 79.72 29.16%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 77.96 32.08%
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 74.08 39.00%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 49.96 106.10%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 48.93 110.44%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 45.34 127.11%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 44.59 130.93%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 41.31 149.26%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 40.86 152.01%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 24.88 313.87%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 17.97 473.01%

GeForce 8600 GTS

Far Cry 1.4 - 1600x1200 - AAx4. AFx16. Ultra Details Score Difference
Radeon X1950 Pro 256 MB (PowerColor) 66.87 34.12%
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 49.86  
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 46.71 6.74%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 43.33 15.07%
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 42.10 18.43%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 38.49 29.54%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 38.33 30.08%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 24.81 100.97%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 21.23 134.86%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 21.13 135.97%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 21.04 136.98%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 20.53 142.86%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 18.78 165.50%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 11.44 335.84%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 8.47 488.67%

Battlefield 2142

Battlefield 2142 is the latest member of the Battlefield franchise. We updated this game to version 1.01. We created our own demo based on Sidi Power Plant map (click here to download the demo we created for this test), which provided a very consistent number of frames per second. We ran it and measured performance with FRAPS. Click here to read in details how we benchmarked using Battlefield 2142.

Since we are comparing mid-range cards, we decided to run this program in two resolutions, 1024x768 (simulating a low resolution) and 1600x1200 (simulating a high resolution). First we ran our demo with image quality set at “low” (with texture manually set at its minimum level) and then with image quality set at “high” (with anti-aliasing manually set at 4x). Below you can see the results, given in frames per second. All video cards listed below were running with the default clock rates defined by the chip manufacturer except the cards marked with “OC”, which are cards that are factory-overclocked.

GeForce 8600 GTS

Battlefield 2142 1.01 - 1024x768 - Low Score Difference
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 350.51  
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 335.30 4.54%
Radeon X1950 Pro 256 MB (PowerColor) 330.39 6.09%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 292.06 20.01%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 262.63 33.46%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 254.29 37.84%
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 230.79 51.87%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 171.15 104.80%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 164.71 112.80%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 152.17 130.34%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 142.72 145.59%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 127.20 175.56%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 124.62 181.26%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 87.63 299.99%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 62.96 456.72%

GeForce 8600 GTS

Battlefield 2142 1.01 - 1600x1200 - Low Score Difference
Radeon X1950 Pro 256 MB (PowerColor) 184.41 4.54%
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 176.40  
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 171.89 2.62%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 147.40 19.67%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 132.60 33.03%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 131.81 33.83%
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 117.01 50.76%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 82.04 115.02%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 78.45 124.86%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 75.60 133.33%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 68.07 159.14%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 64.47 173.62%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 59.96 194.20%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 42.81 312.05%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 28.47 519.60%

GeForce 8600 GTS

Battlefield 2142 1.01 - 1024x768 - High Score Difference
Radeon X1950 Pro 256 MB (PowerColor) 101.89 13.73%
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 89.59  
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 86.49 3.58%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 77.27 15.94%
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 70.57 26.95%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 69.90 28.17%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 63.95 40.09%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 46.82 91.35%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 38.99 129.78%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 38.71 131.44%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 36.30 146.80%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 34.52 159.53%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 30.55 193.26%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 20.32 340.90%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 13.96 541.76%

GeForce 8600 GTS

Battlefield 2142 1.01 - 1600x1200 - High Score Difference
Radeon X1950 Pro 256 MB (PowerColor) 55.54 30.71%
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 43.22 1.72%
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 42.49  
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 39.17 8.48%
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 35.05 21.23%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 33.63 26.35%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 31.16 36.36%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 19.85 114.06%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 17.94 136.85%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 16.95 150.68%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 16.67 154.89%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 16.47 157.98%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 13.98 203.93%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 9.38 352.99%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 6.49 554.70%

Conclusions

In our review we were able to compare the overclocked GeForce 8600 GTS from MSI with a vast range of new and old mid-range PCI Express video cards, as you could see on our previous pages. We also added to our comparison Radeon X1950 Pro, which is an entry-level high-end video card that costs around the same thing as the reviewed card.

GeForce 8600 GTS is clearly targeted to users that want the fastest mid-range card in town but doesn’t want to (or doesn’t have the money to) go for a high-end model. The reviewed GeForce 8600 GTS was the fastest mid-range video card we reviewed to date. This is really impressive.

This GeForce 8600 GTS from MSI was between 8% and 35% faster than the standard GeForce 8600 GT, depending on the game and video configuration we used. It was also between 12% and 92% faster than Radeon X1650 XT (except on F.E.A.R. with no image quality settings enabled, where at 1024x768 Radeon X1650 XT was 5% faster and at 1600x1200 both cards achieved the same performance level), also depending on the game and video configuration we used.

Compared to Radeon X1950 Pro this overclocked GeForce 8600 GTS from MSI was faster in some games and simulations but on games that memory bandwidth plays a major role, Radeon X1950 Pro was a lot faster – after all we are comparing a video card with a 128-bit memory bus to a video card with a 256-bit memory bus. Just to remember, the reviewed card from MSI had a maximum theoretical memory transfer rate of 33.6 GB/s, while Radeon X1950 Pro could exchange data with its memory up to 44.16 GB/s.

Here is a breakdown. On 3DMark03 at 1024x768 overclocked GeForce 8600 GTS was 11% faster than Radeon X1950 Pro, at 1600x1200 they achieved a similar performance, at 1024x768 enabling video quality enhancements the reviewed card was 4% faster than Radeon X1950 Pro but at 1600x1200 enabling image quality enhancements Radeon X1950 Pro was 7% faster.

At 3DMark06 the reviewed GeForce 8600 GTS was between 7% and 17% faster than Radeon X1950 Pro, and at Quake 4 the reviewed card was between 15% and 25% faster.

But at F.E.A.R. Radeon X1950 Pro was between 18% and 63% faster, at Far Cry Radeon X1950 Pro was between 6% and 37% faster (except at 1024x768 with no image quality settings enabled, where our overclocked GeForce 8600 GTS was 4% faster than Radeon X1950 Pro), and at Battlefield 2142 Radeon X1950 Pro was between 4% and 31% faster (except at 1024x768 with no image quality settings enabled, where our overclocked GeForce 8600 GTS was 6% faster than Radeon X1950 Pro).

Compared to the standard GeForce 8600 GTS this overclocked model from MSI was up to 10% faster than the standard model, making it a great option if you are willing to buy a GeForce 8600 GTS.

Then comes pricing. This video card can be found around USD 200 on the market, but at Newegg.com it can found by USD 175. Radeon X1950 Pro can be also be found around USD 200, but Newegg.com is carrying a model from Sapphire for only USD 146 (with a USD 20 mail-in rebate its price goes down to USD 126), making it an unbeatable deal for the average user. Of course this Newegg.com deal is an exception, but… Wow.

Considering the standard pricing, we honestly think that for the average user GeForce 8600 GT is the best deal around, as it provides a better cost/benefit ratio than GeForce 8600 GTS. GeForce 8600 GTS is clearly targeted for users that want a performance higher than GeForce 8600 GT and can pay more, and we don’t think “pay more” is part of the average user’s dictionary.

But this deal on Radeon X1950 Pro from Sapphire for USD 126 at Newegg.com is a no-brainer, making it an unbeatable card for both performance and price.

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/MSI-Overclocked-GeForce-8600-GTS-Review/455


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