The 8600GT from Nvidia has started to become quite popular both with manufacturers who like the flexibility and end users who of course like the price. One thing that is quite common with 8600GT's on the market is that the speeds of both the core and the memory are often increased from the defaults specified by Nvidia. Some have HDCP support and others don't, some come with standard cooling, others come with monster setups or silent heatpipe setups. You can pretty much guarantee that if you are looking for a mainstream graphics solution then there will be a card that caters for you.
have been manufacturing Nvidia based cards for a while now, so it's no surprise that they have a couple of 8600GT cards in their lineup, one of which we have here today. This particular card comes overclocked out of the box, so without further ado, let's look at the specifications.
| 256MB DDR3
|Video Output Function
|Dual-link DVI Support
| HDTV/HDCP Support
| TV-out + Dual DVI Connectors
| Over Clock Edition GPU: 580MHz Memory: 1600MHz
The box for the is mainly black but features a picture of a guys face in an armor helmet. More relevant is the details on features and specifications adorning the box which lets you know what you are buying. Strangely, they make mention of yellow DVI slots, and while I'll comment on the color a bit later on in the review, I'm not sure why it would be depicted as a feature on the back of the box.
Included with the card are 2 user manuals, one of which being multi-language and of more detail than the other. You don't really get a lot with this card but then it is pretty cheap so I guess that balances things out; you get the afore mentioned manuals, 2 DVI to VGA adapters, an S-Vid cable, a video out cable and a Driver/Software CD.
The card itself is based on a red PCB which is common for MSI cards and features a single slot, single fan cooling solution adorned with a blue themed picture depicting a guy in armor and the labels/monickers for the card. The fan is small and clear bladed which let's us see the copper nature of the cooler.
The back end of the card is free from power ports as no external power is needed. The rear of the card is pretty much bare except for the cross brace that holds the cooler onto the front of the card.
The I/O Panel has a DIN style Video Out connector and twin DVI connectors which are inlaid with a bright yellow plastic. I have to say that the yellow comes off pretty garish against the red and blue of the rest of the card, but I doubt most folks will see it after its installed anyway.
As we mentioned before, the MSI NX8600GT-T2D256E OC comes overclocked out of the box, giving you a core speed of 580MHz and memory at 1600MHz (800). This is up from the defaults of 540MHz core and 1400MHz (750) memory, and the memory is according to the manufacturers site only rated for 1400MHz anyway.
Test Setup: Intel Core 2 Duo E6320 @ 2.8GHz, Asus P5K Deluxe Wifi-AP, 2x 1GB Patriot PC2-6400, Windows Vista Home Premium 32bit, Dell 2005FPW 20.1” Widescreen Monitor
We used Forceware version 162.22 for Vista 32bit with the MSI NX8600GT OC Edition. Note that this MSI card is overclocked; the Core has been raised to 580MHz and the Memory is up from 1.4GHz to 1.6GHz.
3D Graphics Test Suite
Half Life 2: Lost Coast – Even though time has moved on, it still manages to impress, and you can't argue at the price. We ran through a typical 2 minutes of play at highest possible settings, including HDR.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl – This FPS come RPG shooter is new to our test suite and does have a tendency to be rough on underpowered machines. We ran through the first mission.
Tomb Raider: Anniversary – The first Tomb Raider since the first Tomb Raider to be more about the Tomb Raiding. Quite a small game, but plenty of visual goodness to test with.
Need For Speed: Carbon – Carbon isn't as visually appealing as it's predecessor but does stress systems with the right settings. We attempted some drifting with a Camaro and recorded the frame rates.
Lost Planet: Extreme Conditions DX10 Demo – We used the inbuilt performance test to examine some frame rates in this DX10 game, utilizing FRAPS to record the results.