Factory Overclocking and Passive Cooling
This article is quite brief. It is, so to speak, a mini-review of a rather peculiar graphics card. It draws attention, because despite being marked '8600 GT' it operates at increased frequencies. Mind you, its shader unit works at a whopping 1566 MHz! And as you know, an overclocked 8600 GTS card has shader unit working at up to 1440 MHz. This fact alone makes this graphics card very attractive. In addition, it has a noiseless passive cooling system, which is another peculiar feature.
I assume that there is no need to remind you here again what GeForce 8600 GT or GTS is, since the information can be found in one of our previous reviews. We have already devoted a couple of articles to examining similar graphics cards.
Almost every regular visitor of our site is familiar with products by ECS/Elitegroup. This year the company celebrates its 20th anniversary. I am not going to focus on quality or other characteristics of their graphics cards, because basically it's quite ordinary. I might only add that the company had used its own facilities to manufacture the card reviewed in this article. This is contrary to a popular method of outsourcing production to third-party plants, which makes it hard to tell whether a company actually had anything to do with the manufacture.
As we have expected, the product being considered has almost the same design as the reference card. Let me stress it again, the card operates at increased frequencies for such cards.
The card has a TV-out interface, which requires a unique connector. In order to output to a TV with via S-Video or RCA, one has to use special adapters that are supplied with the card. You can find more information about the TV-out socket here.
In order to connect to analog monitors with d-Sub (VGA) one has to use special DVI-to-d-Sub adapters. Maximum resolutions and refresh rates:
In regards to the graphics cards' abilities to play MPEG2 (DVD-Video), we have explored the issue back in 2002. Not much has changed since then. Depending on the movie the load on the CPU doesn't exceed 25% during playback using modern graphics cards.
Speaking of HDTV and other hot video gizmos, we have already conducted one examination, and its results can be found here.
Let us remind you that graphics cards based on 8600 GT don't require an additional power supply.
Let's take a look at the cooling system.
We have conducted thermal behavior tests using RivaTuner (by A. Nikolaychuk AKA Unwinder) and have obtained the following results:
Tests have shown that the temperature of even such an overclocked card doesn't exceed the critical value and stays below 75 degrees C.
This fact once again demonstrates the effectiveness of such a cooling system.
Installation and Drivers
VSync is disabled.
Test Results: Performance Comparison
We have used the following benchmarks:
Graphics Cards Performance
Those of our readers, who are knowledgeable in the area of three-dimensional graphics, will be able to understand the results shown in the following diagrams and make a conclusion for themselves. For the novices and all those, who are in the beginning of choosing a graphics card, we shall provide some comments.
First of all, it would be reasonable to browse through our brief references on families of modern graphics cards and processors that they are based on. You should pay attention to operational clock rates, support of modern technologies (shaders) and pipeline architecture. ATI RADEON X1300-1600-1800-1900 Reference NVIDIA GeForce 7300-7600-7800-7900 Reference
If you have just begun realizing how large the selection to choose a video card is, don't worry, our 3D Graphics section offers articles about 3D basics (you will still have to understand them - when you run a game and open its options, you'll see such notions as textures, lighting, etc) as well as reviews of new products. There are presently two major GPU manufacturers: AMD (graphics cards made by ATI) and NVIDIA. There are also mention Matrox and S3, but they occupy less than 1% of the discrete graphics card market. So, most of the information is divided into these two sections. We also publish monthly 3Digests that sum up all comparisons of graphics cards for various price segments. The February 2007 issue analyzed dependence of modern graphics cards on processors without antialiasing and anisotropic filtering. The March 2007 issue did the same with AA and AF.
Thirdly, have a look at the test results. We are not going to analyze each test in this article, with the exception of a few comments, primarily because there's more sense in drawing a general bottom line in the end of the article.
World In Conflict (beta), DX10, Vista
Splinter Cell Chaos Theory (HDR)
Call Of Juarez
Company Of Heroes
Serious Sam II (HDR)
3DMark06: SHADER 2.0 MARKS
3DMark06: SHADER 3.0 MARKS
Test results have shown that, as predicted, higher clock rates have the most effect on calculation-centered applications (with many shaders). As you may have noticed, the reason is that the shader unit operates at a SIGNIFICANTLY increased clock rate compared to the nominal. Its clock rate is much higher than that of the other units (rasterization, texturing, etc.). This is the source of quite significant performance advantages in games like SCCT, CoJ, WiC. In some cases the card being examined has demonstrated better performance than its high-end version - 8600 GTS, even despite its own high clock rates. Nevertheless, the clock rate of the ECS product's shader unit had no rivals!
In cases where the emphasis is on using a lot of textures and other traditional 3D technologies gains in performance are proportional to the increased operational clock rates of the corresponding GPU units (rasterization and texturing).
ECS GeForce 8600 GT Overclocked Passive cooling 256MB - is a very good product. I may be so brave as to claim that it is the best card in the 8600 GT class (assuming its price will be adequate). Let us not forget that the card is not only fast, but is also quiet and has reasonable heat emission. The board has performed without any glitches or other reasons for criticism.
The choice, as usual, is up to our readers. We simply provide the information about a certain product without any specific directions on picking one device over the other.
And another thing that we are not tired to repeat from article to article. Having decided to choose a graphics card by yourself, you have to realize you're to change one of the fundamental PC parts, which might require additional tuning to improve performance or enable some qualitative features. This is not a finished product, but a component part. So, you must understand that in order to get the most from a new graphics card, you will have to acquire some basic knowledge of 3D graphics and graphics in general. If you are not ready for this, you should not perform upgrades by yourself. In this case it would be better to purchase a ready chassis with preset software (along with vendor's technical support,) or a gaming console that doesn't require any adjustments.
To find more information regarding the current graphics card market and the performance of various cards, feel free to read our monthly special 3Digest.
The ECS GeForce 8600 GT Overclocked Passive cooling 256MB receives the October 2007 "Original design" award:
ECS/Elitegroup Russia and Yuriy Li personally
for providing the graphics card for the tests
Andrey Vorobiev (firstname.lastname@example.org)
October 24, 2007
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