XFX GeForce 8600GTS XXX Video Card Review :: XFX GeForce 8600GTS XXX Features

04-17-2007 · Category: Hardware - Video Cards

By Doc Overclock
  • 80 nanometer process
  • 289 million transistors
  • Full Microsoft DirectX 10 Support
  • NVIDIA SLI Technology
  • Lumenex Engine
  • 16x AA
  • 128-bit Floating Point High Dynamic Range (HDR)
  • NVIDIA Quantum Effects Technology
  • NVIDIA ForceWare Unified Driver Architecture
  • OpenGL 2.0 Optimizations and Support
  • PCI Express Support
  • Dual 400MHz RAMDACs
  • Dual Dual-link DVI Support
  • Windows Vista support
  • NVIDIA PureVideo HD 2nd generation Technology
  • 730MHz Clockspeed (versus 675MHz NVIDIA reference clock)
  • 128-bit memory interface
  • 1200MHz memory
  • 32GB/second memory bandwidth

ATI introduced video cards based upon the 80 nanometer process in 2006 with the X1950XTX card. NVIDIA, on the other hand, went for the 90 nanometer process for their latest high-end card, the 8800GTX that was released in November of 2006. The NVIDIA 8600GTS and 8600GT cards are NVIDIA's first 80 nanometer process cards available on the market. The 8600 series has 289 million transistors, compared to the 621 million transistors of the 8800GTX card and 384 million transistors of the ATI X1950XTX cards.

Memory bandwidth of a video card is as important as its fillrate and its other key features. The memory bandwidth of a reference clocked 8600GTS is 32GB/second, comparable to the 35.2GB/second that the 6800 Ultra of 2004 had. The XFX card has a memory speed of 1.130GHz, meaning it has a memory bandwidth of over 36GB/second. 256-bit memory busses for cards that are built for the mid-range (x1600, 6600GT, 7600GT and now 8600GTS) will have to wait for another day as it is not available on the 8600GTS or 8600GT cards. The 8800GTX cards had an array of 128 Stream Processors. The 8600GTS card has 32 Stream Processors. But it would not be accurate to say that the 8600 series is a fourth of the 8800 series. Each texture processor on the 8600GTS and 8600GT can calculate eight texture addresses and perform eight filtering operations per clock. The 8800 series texture processor can calculate four texture addresses and perform eight filtering operations per clock cycle.

The XFX 8600GTS card is clocked at an amazing 730MHz for the core and 1130MHz for the memory clock. This is quite a jump from the 675MHz core clock and 1000MHz memory speeds of the 8600GTS reference clock design. I didn't receive a reference clocked 8600GTS, and therefore can't compare it to one this round. The key features of the new cards is their ability to run Pixel Shader 4 content once that is available in games in the near future. Games like Hellgate: London, Crysis, and many others are set to use the new graphical capabilities offered by DirectX 10, and the 8600 series is the first mid-range video cards (129-249) priced video cards to fully support the new graphics API.

Another new feature of the 8xxx architecture is the Geometry Shader. GS can create and destroy geometry (read a primitive in and generate more primitives or not emit any primitives as output). This feature is not available in Shader Model 3 hardware cards like the 7900GTX or the X1950XTX. This is a feature that would signify the last generation of video cards, but will soon be passe as DX10 becomes the mainstream API. NVIDIA introduced new anti-aliasing modes with the 8800GTX series which the 8600GTS and 8600GT both fully support. Coverage Sampling Anti-Aliasing is based upon taking samples from a coverage area and doesn't work in all situations. 8x AA on NVIDIA's Control Panel is 4x MSAA+4 extra coverage samples. 16x AA is 8x MSAA+8 extra coverage samples.

In some situations the new AA modes will provide image quality approaching that of 16x MSAA. In other situations, the new AA mode will look as good as 4x MSAA. The 8600 series sports NVIDIA's new 2nd generation PureVideo engine. The 8600 and 8500 GPUs have a new BitStream Processor (BSP) and AES128 engine that handles encrypted HD movie content for HD-DVD and Blu-Ray movies. The BSP Engine handles H.264 CABAC (Context Adaptive Binary Arithmetic Coding) and CAVLC (Context Adaptive Variable Length Coding). Anisotropic Filtering has been the bane of NVIDIA's cards since the 6800 was launched, as the quality of the default AF setting was noticeably degraded from the earlier cards. The launch of the 8800GTX brought near angle-independent AF to the table, meaning a clearer texture palette no matter how far away the viewer is, and no matter what the angle the POV is viewed from. We have covered the G8x architecture in-depth already, and if you want to get a closer look at the features of the basic architecture, you can take a look at this link here. The 8600GTS covers the same features, Geometry Shading, Unified Shaders, Pixel Shader 4.0, Vertex Shader 4.0 as its bigger brother, the 8800GTX. As to whether it would perform better than older cards that will have to wait for the performance section of the review to be seen.