[nextpage title=”Introduction”]

GeForce 8600 GT is a mid-range video card in the new GeForce 8 family from NVIDIA. Usually this kind of model is the one that provides the best cost/benefit ratio for the average user. Is this true for this new release? This is something we will check in our review. Also this model from MSI, NX8600GT-T2D256E OC, comes factory-overclocked, meaning that it will achieve a performance higher than the standard GeForce 8600 GT. Check it out.

MSI GeForce 8600 GTFigure 1: MSI overclocked GeForce 8600 GT.

The main difference between GeForce 8 and GeForce 7 families is the adoption of DirectX 10 on GeForce 8 family. What this means is that they will support the next generation of games to be released starting this year. It also means that instead of using separated shader units for each kind of shader processing (pixel, vertex, physics and geometry) video cards from this family use a unified shader architecture, where the shader engines can process any one of these tasks. On our NVIDIA GeForce 8 Series Architecture article you can find a more in-depth explanation about this.

So far AMD has announced their ATI Radeon HD 2000 family – which also supports DirectX 10 and uses unified shader architecture –, however mid-range products will be only available in late June, i.e., one month from now. This leaves mid-range cards from GeForce 8 family like GeForce 8600 GT without real direct competitors.

We can find this model from MSI costing around USD 150, so at this price range we have ATI Radeon X1650 XT competing with GeForce 8600 GT.

The standard GeForce 8600 GT runs at 540 MHz and accesses its 256 MB GDDR3 memory at 1.4 GHz (700 MHz transferring two data per clock cycle) through a 128-bit interface, so it can access its memory at a maximum transfer rate of 22.4 GB/s.

This model from MSI comes overclocked, with the graphics chip running at 580 MHz and its memory running at 1.6 GHz, with a maximum memory transfer rate of 25.6 GB/s. So this video card has its GPU running 7.40% faster than the standard GeForce 8600 GT and accesses its memory 14.28% faster than the standard model.

Also if you install the drivers that come with this video card you will have access to D.O.T. or Dynamic Overclocking Technology, where you can overclock your video card simply checking a box on the video properties.

So this video card is a product targeted to users that want an overclocked video card to achieve a higher performance but don’t want to go through the hassle of overclocking the video card themselves.

GeForce 8600 GT has only 32 shader processors running at 1.18 GHz, the double of processors used on GeForce 8500 GT.

For a full comparison between GeForce 8600 GT and other chips from NVIDIA, please read our tutorial NVIDIA Chips Comparison Table. On ATI Chips Comparison Table you can compare them to competitors from ATI/AMD.

On Figures 2 and 3 you can see the reviewed card from MSI.

MSI GeForce 8600 GTFigure 2: MSI overclocked GeForce 8600 GT.

MSI GeForce 8600 GTFigure 3: MSI overclocked GeForce 8600 GT, back view.

[nextpage title=”MSI NX8600GT-T2D256E OC”]

As you could see from the pictures posted in the previous page, this video card uses a very simple aluminum cooler, which doesn’t touch the memory chips, as you can see in Figure 4.

MSI GeForce 8600 GTFigure 4: Video card cooler doesn’t touch the memory chips.

In Figure 5, you can see this video card without its cooler.

MSI GeForce 8600 GTFigure 5: MSI overclocked GeForce 8600 GT without its cooler.

This video card uses four GDDR3 512-Mbit 1.4 ns chips from Samsung (K4J52324QE-BC14) as you can see in Figure 6, making the 256 MB of memory this video card has. These chips can officially run up to 1.4 GHz (700 MHz x 2) and since on this video card the memory chips are running at 1.6 GHz they are already overclocked, running 14.28% above their official spec.

MSI GeForce 8600 GTFigure 6: Samsung GDDR3 512-Mbit 1.4 ns chip.

This video card doesn’t come with any game. In Figure 7, you can see the video component cable, the S-Video cable, the two DVI-to-VGA adapters and the driver CD-ROM that come with the reviewed card.

MSI GeForce 8600 GTFigure 7: CD, cables and adapters that come with this video card.

[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]

  • Graphics chip: GeForce 8600 GT, running at 580 MHz.
  • Memory: 256 MB GDDR3 memory (1.4 ns, 128-bit interface) from Samsung (K4J52324QE-BC14), running at 1.6 GHz (800 MHz DDR).
  • Bus type: PCI Express x16.
  • Connectors: Two DVI and one S-Video output supporting component video.
  • Video Capture (VIVO): No.
  • Number of CDs/DVDs that come with this board: One.
  • Games that come with this board: None.
  • Programs that come with this board: None.
  • More information: https://www.msicomputer.com
  • Average price in the US*: USD 150.00

* Researched at Shopping.com on the day we published this review.

[nextpage title=”How We Tested”]

During our benchmarking sessions, we used the configuration listed below. Between our benchmarking sessions the only different device was the video card being tested.

Hardware Configuration

  • Motherboard: ASUS P5B (Intel P965, 0904 BIOS)
  • CPU: Core 2 Extreme X6800 (dual-core, 2.93 GHz)
  • CPU Cooler: Gigabyte Neon 775-BL
  • Memory: 2 GB PC-1066/PC2-8500 (Corsair TWIN2X2048-8500C5 kit), configured at 1,066 MHz with 5-5-5-15 timings.
  • Hard Drive: Samsung HD080HJ (80 GB, SATA-300, 8 MB buffer, 7,200 rpm)
  • Power Supply: Zalman ZM-600HP
  • Video Monitor: Samsung SyncMaster 1100MB
  • Screen resolution: 1280x1024x32@85 Hz

Software Configuration

  • Windows XP Professional installed using NTFS
  • Service Pack 2
  • Direct X 9.0c
  • Intel inf driver version: 8.0.1.1002
  • ATI video driver version: Catalyst 7.2
  • NVIDIA video driver version: 93.71 (GeForce 6 and 7 Family)
  • NVIDIA video driver version: 158.22 (GeForce 8 Family)

Used Software

We adopted a 3% error margin; thus, differences below 3% cannot be considered relevant. In other words, products with a performance difference below 3% should be considered as having similar performance.

[nextpage title=”3DMark03″]

3DMark03 simulates DirectX 8 and 9 games. Even though this program may be considered “old”, we ran it to see how the tested video cards perform on older games. Since we are comparing mid-range cards, we decided to run this program in two resolutions, 1024×768 (which is considered low for today’s standards and thus providing a simulation for low resolution) and 1600×1200 (which provides a simulation for high resolution). At each resolution we simulated two scenarios, first with no image quality enhancements enabled (this scenario we called “low”) and then with anti-aliasing set at 4x and anisotropic filtering set at 4x (this scenario we called “high”). The results you check below. All video cards listed below were running with the default clock rates defined by the chip manufacturer except the cards marked with “OC”, which are cards that are factory-overclocked.

GeForce 8 Mid-Range

3DMark03 Professional Edition 3.6.0 -1024×768 Score Difference
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 20100 16.79%
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 18236 5.96%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 17211  
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 15741 9.34%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 14487 18.80%
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 13663 25.97%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 10574 62.77%
Radeon X1600 XT 256 MB (HIS) 10271 67.57%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 9557 80.09%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 8984 91.57%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 8935 92.62%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 8124 111.85%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 7359 133.88%
Radeon X1300 Pro 256 MB (ATI) 6385 169.55%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 5593 207.72%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 4179 311.84%

GeForce 8 Mid-Range

3DMark03 Professional Edition 3.6.0 -1600×1200 Score Difference
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 11393 17.51%
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 10538 8.70%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 9695  
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 8797 10.21%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 8450 14.73%
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 7556 28.31%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 5429 78.58%
Radeon X1600 XT 256 MB (HIS) 5385 80.04%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 5255 84.49%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 5086 90.62%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 4497 115.59%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 4313 124.79%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 4011 141.71%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 2915 232.59%
Radeon X1300 Pro 256 MB (ATI) 2712 257.49%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 2076 367.00%

GeForce 8

3DMark03 Professional Edition 3.6.0 -1024×768 AAx4. AFx4 Score Difference
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 11675 15.24%
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 10742 6.03%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 10131  
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 9119 11.10%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 7980 26.95%
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 7602 33.27%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 5592 81.17%
Radeon X1600 XT 256 MB (HIS) 5396 87.75%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 4873 107.90%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 4844 109.15%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 4635 118.58%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 4605 120.00%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 3894 160.17%
Radeon X1300 Pro 256 MB (ATI) 3376 200.09%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 2617 287.12%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 1745 480.57%

GeForce 8 Mid-Range

3DMark03 Professional Edition 3.6.0 -1600×1200 AAx4. AFx4 Score Difference
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 6058 15.19%
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 5612 6.71%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 5259  
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 4639 13.36%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 4276 22.99%
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 4110 27.96%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 2714 93.77%
Radeon X1600 XT 256 MB (HIS) 2691 95.43%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 2320 126.68%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 2237 135.09%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 2217 137.21%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 2162 143.25%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 1917 174.33%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 1212 333.91%
Radeon X1300 Pro 256 MB (ATI) 1038 406.65%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 837 528.32%

[nextpage title=”3DMark06″]

3DMark06 simulates DirectX 9.0c (Shader 3.0) games and it also puts HDR (High Dynamic Range) into the equation to calculate its final score. So it simulates the most high-end games available today. Since we were comparing mid-range cards, we ran this program in two resolutions, one low (1024×768) and one high (1600×1200). The results you check below. All video cards listed below were running with the default clock rates defined by the chip manufacturer except the cards marked with “OC”, which are cards that are factory-overclocked.

GeForce 8 Mid-Range

3DMark06 Professional Edition 1.10 -1024×768 Score Difference
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 7248 17.78%
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 7002 13.78%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 6154  
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 5743 7.16%
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 4292 43.38%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 4192 46.80%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 3369 82.67%
Radeon X1600 XT 256 MB (HIS) 3295 86.77%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 2927 110.25%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 2860 115.17%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 2763 122.73%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 2213 178.08%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 2046 200.78%
Radeon X1300 Pro 256 MB (ATI) 1920 220.52%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 1357 353.50%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 741 730.50%

GeForce 8 Mid-Range

3DMark06 Professional Edition 1.10 -1600×1200 Score Difference
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 4793 18.61%
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 4607 14.01%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 4041  
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 3707 9.01%
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 2923 38.25%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 2765 46.15%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 2117 90.88%
Radeon X1600 XT 256 MB (HIS) 2086 93.72%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 1796 125.00%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 1784 126.51%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 1781 126.90%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 1281 215.46%
Radeon X1300 Pro 256 MB (ATI) 1100 267.36%

[nextpage title=”Quake 4″]

Quake 4 uses the same game engine as Doom 3 and since we are comparing mid-range cards, we decided to run this program in two resolutions, 1024×768 (simulating a low resolution) and 1600×1200 (simulating a high resolution), first with image quality set at “low” and then with image quality set at “high”. We upgraded this game to version 1.3 and run the id_demo001 net demo that comes with this version. Click here for more details on how to use Quake 4 to benchmark a system. The results you check below and are given in frames per second. All video cards listed below were running with the default clock rates defined by the chip manufacturer except the cards marked with “OC”, which are cards that are factory-overclocked.

GeForce 8 Mid-Range

Quake 4 1.3 – 1024×768 – Low Score Difference
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 123.25 2.77%
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 123.21 2.73%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 119.93  
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 114.53 4.71%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 109.14 9.89%
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 85.44 40.37%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 79.65 50.57%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 77.86 54.03%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 74.81 60.31%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 66.54 80.24%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 61.90 93.75%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 55.69 115.35%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 46.40 158.47%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 35.03 242.36%

GeForce 8 Mid-Range

Quake 4 1.3 – 1600×1200 – Low Score Difference
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 80.55 19.25%
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 77.30 14.43%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 67.55  
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 65.14 3.70%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 61.34 10.12%
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 44.18 52.90%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 41.01 64.72%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 39.59 70.62%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 37.63 79.51%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 33.65 100.74%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 29.63 127.98%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 28.01 141.16%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 23.02 193.44%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 16.95 298.53%

GeForce 8 Mid-Range

Quake 4 1.3 – 1024×768 – High Score Difference
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 122.21 4.38%
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 120.14 2.61%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 117.08  
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 112.95 3.66%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 110.23 6.21%
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 78.24 49.64%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 75.27 55.55%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 71.89 62.86%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 70.76 65.46%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 60.53 93.42%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 58.80 99.12%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 49.15 138.21%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 42.87 173.10%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 32.15 264.17%

GeForce 8 Mid-Range

Quake 4 1.3 – 1600×1200 – High Score Difference
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 78.95 19.64%
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 75.51 14.43%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 65.99  
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 62.23 6.04%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 59.99 10.00%
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 41.05 60.76%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 39.05 68.99%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 37.10 77.87%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 35.94 83.61%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 30.75 114.60%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 28.93 128.10%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 25.62 157.57%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 21.47 207.36%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 15.76 318.72%

[nextpage title=”F.E.A.R.”]

F.E.A.R. is a heavy game and we used its internal benchmarking module. We upgraded it to version 1.08 and since we are comparing mid-range cards, we decided to run this program in two resolutions, 1024×768 (simulating a low resolution) and 1600×1200 (simulating a high resolution). We set “computer settings” to “maximum” and then ran each resolution in two scenarios, first with “graphics card” set at “low” and then with this item set at “maximum”. Let’s take a look at the results, given in frames per second. All video cards listed below were running with the default clock rates defined by the chip manufacturer except the cards marked with “OC”, which are cards that are factory-overclocked.

GeForce 8 Mid-Range

F.E.A.R. 1.08 – 1024×768 – Low Quality Score Difference
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 268 24.07%
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 256 18.52%
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 247 14.35%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 216  
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 193 11.92%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 186 16.13%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 167 29.34%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 139 55.40%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 121 78.51%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 114 89.47%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 94 129.79%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 83 160.24%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 66 227.27%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 38 468.42%

GeForce 8 Mid-Range

F.E.A.R. 1.08 – 1600×1200 – Low Quality Score Difference
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 123 24.24%
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 120 21.21%
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 115 16.16%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 99  
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 89 11.24%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 89 11.24%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 75 32.00%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 62 59.68%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 58 70.69%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 54 83.33%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 42 135.71%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 38 160.53%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 31 219.35%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 17 482.35%

GeForce 8 Mid-Range

F.E.A.R. 1.08 – 1024×768 – Maximum Quality Score Difference
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 65 16.07%
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 62 10.71%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 56  
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 51 9.80%
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 50 12.00%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 46 21.74%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 40 40.00%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 33 69.70%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 29 93.10%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 27 107.41%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 27 107.41%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 26 115.38%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 26 115.38%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 10 460.00%

GeForce 8 Mid-Range

F.E.A.R. 1.08 – 1600×1200 – Maximum Quality Score Difference
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 27 12.50%
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 26 8.33%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 24  
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 24 0.00%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 23 4.35%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 22 9.09%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 17 41.18%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 14 71.43%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 13 84.62%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 12 100.00%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 12 100.00%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 11 118.18%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 11 118.18%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 4 500.00%

[nextpage title=”Far Cry”]

Far Cry is a heavy game based on the Shader 3.0 (DirectX 9.0c) programming model. We’ve updated the game to version 1.4. To measure the performance we run four times the demo created by German magazine PC Games Hardware (PCGH) and the results presented below are an arithmetic average of the collected data. We used the HardwareOC Far Cry Benchmark 1.7 utility to help us collecting data.

Since we are comparing mid-range cards, we decided to run this program in two resolutions, 1024×768 (simulating a low resolution) and 1600×1200 (simulating a high resolution). At each resolution we simulated two scenarios, first with no image quality enhancements enabled and graphics details set to “maximum” (this scenario we called “low”) and then with anti-aliasing set at 4x, anisotropic filtering set at 16x and graphics details set to “ultra” (this scenario we called “high”). On all scenarios we set the rendering engine to Shader 3.0. The results, given in frames per second, you check below. All video cards listed below were running with the default clock rates defined by the chip manufacturer except the cards marked with “OC”, which are cards that are factory-overclocked.

GeForce 8 Mid-Range

Far Cry 1.4 – 1024×768 – Maximum Details Score Difference
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 145.00 12.23%
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 141.84 9.78%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 131.39 1.70%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 129.20  
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 128.86 0.26%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 118.14 9.36%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 97.75 32.17%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 89.96 43.62%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 85.77 50.64%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 81.60 58.33%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 67.03 92.75%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 60.84 112.36%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 50.01 158.35%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 34.90 270.20%

GeForce 8 Mid-Range

Far Cry 1.4 – 1600×1200 – Maximum Details Score Difference
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 81.70 19.78%
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 78.86 15.61%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 75.56 10.78%
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 71.84 5.32%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 68.21  
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 61.09 11.65%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 49.39 38.10%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 46.17 47.74%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 45.07 51.34%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 40.88 66.85%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 34.52 97.60%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 30.56 123.20%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 25.62 166.24%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 17.65 286.46%

GeForce 8 Mid-Range

Far Cry 1.4 – 1024×768 – AAx4. AFx16. Ultra Details Score Difference
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 102.97 17.24%
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 98.33 11.95%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 87.83  
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 79.72 10.17%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 77.96 12.66%
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 74.08 18.56%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 49.96 75.80%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 48.93 79.50%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 45.34 93.71%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 44.59 96.97%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 41.31 112.61%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 40.86 114.95%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 24.88 253.01%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 17.97 388.76%

GeForce 8 Mid-Range

Far Cry 1.4 – 1600×1200 – AAx4. AFx16. Ultra Details Score Difference
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 49.86 15.07%
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 46.71 7.80%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 43.33  
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 42.10 2.92%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 38.49 12.57%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 38.33 13.04%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 24.81 74.65%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 21.23 104.10%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 21.13 105.06%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 21.04 105.94%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 20.53 111.06%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 18.78 130.72%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 11.44 278.76%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 8.47 411.57%

[nextpage title=”Battlefield 2142″]

Battlefield 2142 is the latest member of the Battlefield franchise. We updated this game to version 1.01. We created our own demo based on Sidi Power Plant map (click here to download the demo we created for this test), which provided a very consistent number of frames per second. We ran it and measured performance with FRAPS. Click here to read in details how we benchmarked using Battlefield 2142.

Since we are comparing mid-range cards, we decided to run this program in two resolutions, 1024×768 (simulating a low resolution) and 1600×1200 (simulating a high resolution). First we ran our demo with image quality set at “low” (with texture manually set at its minimum level) and then with image quality set at “high” (with anti-aliasing manually set at 4x). Below you can see the results, given in frames per second. All video cards listed below were running with the default clock rates defined by the chip manufacturer except the cards marked with “OC”, which are cards that are factory-overclocked.

GeForce 8 Mid-Range

Battlefield 2142 1.01 – 1024×768 – Low Score Difference
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 350.51 20.01%
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 335.30 14.81%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 292.06  
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 262.63 11.21%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 254.29 14.85%
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 230.79 26.55%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 171.15 70.65%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 164.71 77.32%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 152.17 91.93%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 142.72 104.64%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 127.20 129.61%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 124.62 134.36%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 87.63 233.29%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 62.96 363.88%

GeForce 8 Mid-Range

Battlefield 2142 1.01 – 1600×1200 – Low Score Difference
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 176.40 19.67%
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 171.89 16.61%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 147.40  
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 132.60 11.16%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 131.81 11.83%
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 117.01 25.97%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 82.04 79.67%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 78.45 87.89%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 75.60 94.97%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 68.07 116.54%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 64.47 128.63%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 59.96 145.83%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 42.81 244.31%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 28.47 417.74%

GeForce 8 Mid-Range

Battlefield 2142 1.01 – 1024×768 – High Score Difference
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 89.59 15.94%
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 86.49 11.93%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 77.27  
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 70.57 9.49%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 69.90 10.54%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 63.95 20.83%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 46.82 65.04%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 38.99 98.18%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 38.71 99.61%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 36.30 112.87%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 34.52 123.84%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 30.55 152.93%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 20.32 280.27%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 13.96 453.51%

GeForce 8 Mid-Range

Battlefield 2142 1.01 – 1600×1200 – High Score Difference
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) 43.22 10.34%
GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB (MSI) OC 42.49 8.48%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) OC 39.17  
Radeon X1650 XT 256 MB (HIS) 35.05 11.75%
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB (MSI) 33.63 16.47%
GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB (XFX) 31.16 25.71%
Radeon X1650 Pro 256 MB (HIS) 19.85 97.33%
GeForce 7600 GS 256 MB (XFX) 17.94 118.34%
GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB (MSI) 16.95 131.09%
GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA) 16.67 134.97%
Radeon X1300 XT 256 MB GDDR3 (HIS) 16.47 137.83%
GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB (Zogis) 13.98 180.19%
GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron) 9.38 317.59%
GeForce 6200 128-bit 128 MB (Leadtek) 6.49 503.54%

[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]

In our review we were able to compare the overclocked GeForce 8600 GT from MSI with a vast range of new and old mid-range PCI Express video cards, as you could see on our previous pages.

Costing around USD 150, this video card competes in price with Radeon X1650 XT.

And… what a joy! This model from MSI was between 4% and 16% faster than the regular GeForce 8600 GT, depending on the game and on the video resolution you are running.

It was also, with a very few exceptions that we will list below, faster than Radeon X1650 XT. Excluding these exceptions, overclocked GeForce 8600 GT from MSI was between 9% and 61% faster than Radeon X1650 XT, depending on the game and video configuration we used.

The exceptions were in F.E.A.R. (with no image quality settings enabled Radeon 1650 XT was 24% faster but when we enabled them the reviewed card was 11% faster at 1024×768 and both achieved the same result at 1600×1200) and Far Cry (both achieved a similar performance at 1024×768 with no image quality settings enabled and at 1600×1200 with image quality settings enabled; Radeon X1650 XT was 5% faster at 1600×1200 with no image quality settings enabled while overclocked GeForce 8600 GT was 19% faster at 1024×768 with image quality settings enabled).

This video card from MSI also made Radeon X1650 Pro eat dust, being between 29% and 115% faster than Radeon X1650 Pro, depending on the game and video configuration.

We have no doubt that GeForce 8600 GT is the video card everybody is looking for, providing the best performance for its price range. Costing around USD 150, on average (at Newegg.com this video card is at only USD 137, making it a no-brainer), it is the perfect product for the average user that wants to play games occasionally at a decent performance but doesn’t have the money or doesn’t want to buy an expensive high-end video card.

The bottom line: want a mid-range video card today? MSI overclocked GeForce 8600 GT is the one you should buy.