With baited breath I have been waiting for Nvidia to introduce their new 8600 series of graphic cards. To be honest, it has been a while since my credit card was so anxiously awaiting another withdrawal. Why? Simply because the 8600 series hold the promise of DirectX 10 compatible hardware at a sub-$200 pricetag, which should bode well for all those people not looking forward to spending well over $1000 to be Vista Ready. So yesterday Nvidia finally pulled up the curtains and showed what the 8600 series is capable of. And frankly I think they pulled another Vista; expectations were high, initial impressions were promising, but the final product is just barely a step up from previous graphic cards, if you look beyond the DirectX 10 compatibility that is.
Benchmarks around the world wide web show that the 8600GT just about keeps pace with the 7600GT, which is not what many, including myself, were expecting. And the 8600GTS, well, lets just tell it like it is, is downright disappointing, especially because most websites tested the factory overclocked version and not the plain vanilla one. These factory overclocked versions are far from a best buy at the $230 pricetag they are currently listed at with most manufacturers. Spend a little over $50 more and you got yourself an 8800GTS, which simply runs circles around any overclocked 8600GTS, let alone the plain vanilla version. So what happened here? Did hardware manufacturers do the math and decided that the price point Nvidia initially indicated, about $200 for the 8600GTS, was a bit low, considering the fact that sales have been slow anyway due to Vista not catching on as expected?
That extra $30 however does make me feel uneasy about giving the 8600GTS two thumbs up, especially because, and I will be washing my mouth with water and soap later, the ATI X1950 Pro is a clear winner when compared with a pricetag of just $179. Although it lacks DirectX 10 support it is clearly faster at running DirectX 9 games and that is what the majority of gamers still play today. Tomorrow things might look better for Nvidia, but for me to sing its praise the 8600GTS needs at least a $50 reduction in price and that is simply not going to happen overnight I am afraid. Lets just wait when aforementioned company that was recently bought and whose name I shall not mention twice in a single column launches its DirectX 10 parts, then the game of tag starts all over again hopefully with swift and significant reduction in pricing. If AMD's current pricing strategy for its processors is anything to go by Nvidia might be in for more than the usual game of tag.
Current prices on a variety of GeForce 8600 models are available from our price-comparison partner site PriceGrabber.