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  Nvidia's GeForce 8600GTS and 8600GT, DirectX 10 midrange madness. 
  Mar 16, 2007, 07:30am EDT 
By: Sander Sassen

Come April NVIDIA will introduce their first midrange DirectX 10 graphic cards. Dubbed the GeForce 8600GTS and GeForce 8600GT these cards will run on the G84 architecture and offer full support for DirectX 10 features including pixel and vertex shader model 4.0 as well as SLI and PureVideo technologies.

Fig 1. The GeForce 8600GT featuring a single slot heatsink.

The GeForce 8600GT will be the first midrange graphic card on offer with an estimated retail price of about $150. The GeForce 8600GT runs at a 540MHz GPU clock and has the option to either use 128MB or 256MB of GDDR3 memory which is run at a 700MHz clock speed on a 128-bit wide memory bus. Obviously it is up to the graphic card manufacturer to decide which memory configuration they prefer, regardless of the total amount of memory used the memory bus will always be 128-bits wide. HDCP support on the GeForce 8600GT is optional as it is not natively included with the G84 architecture. In order to support HDCP the graphic card manufacturer needs to include an EEPROM which holds the HDCP codes.

Fig 1. The GeForce 8600GTS featuring a PCIe power connector.

Top of the midrange line-up is the GeForce 8600GTS which is also based on the G84 architecture but has a 675 MHz GPU clock with an estimated retail price of $200. The GeForce 8600GTS comes equipped with 256MB of GDDR3 memory clocked at 1000 MHz, again over a 128-bit wide memory bus. Much like the GeForce 8600GT HDCP support is optional and it is up to the graphic card manufacturer to include it. Both cards feature the PCIe x16 interface and the GeForce 8600GTS comes equipped with a connector for external PCIe power, the GeForce 8600GT does not. Power consumption for the GeForce 8600GT is around 50-watts for the clock speeds indicated above, whereas the GeForce 8600GTS needs about 70-watts, the bulk of which is supplied through the PCIe power connector.

Performance for the 8600GT is expected to be roughly on the GeForce 7900GT level, of course with full DirectX 10 compatibility which the GeForce 7900GT lacks. The GeForce 8600GTS is expected to give the GeForce 7900GTX a run for its money, which is quite an accomplishment for a $200 graphic card. All in all Nvidia seems to have two winners on their hands which should be just about a month away from introduction. Especially the price point of the GeForce 8600GTS seems attractive as it offers performance which is about 70% of the GeForce 8800GTS at almost half the price. Potentially the performance gap can be further reduced by running both the GPU and its memory at higher frequency, which I am sure many graphic card manufacturers will aspire to do. Adding to the fact that it is far less power hungry than the GeForce 8800 series it could well be an instant bestseller when introduced.

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