PNY GeForce 8600GT 512MB Review
Reviewed by: Makaveli
Reviewed on: November 13, 2007
Price: $199.99 USD
So you’re looking for a new nVidia graphics card that supports DirectX 10 and can handle new games... but you’re not looking to get a high-end card and break the bank. Naturally, you’re looking around for a mainstream card such as an 8600GT. Let’s examine the PNY GeForce 8600GT 512MB onboard memory. How much of an impact will 512MB of memory and overclocked clock speed be compared to other 8600GT’s on the market? Is this the mainstream card you’re looking for that supports DirectX 10 and plays all of the hottest games on the market, even games to come? Join me as we answer all of these questions and more.
"Established in 1985, PNY Technologies, Inc. delivers a full spectrum of high-quality products for everything in and around the computer. PNY is a leading manufacturer and supplier of computer graphics accelerator cards for consumers and professional graphics boards for professionals, memory upgrade modules, Flash Media and Flash peripherals. The company's retail product line includes products used in a growing number of consumer electronics devices, such as personal computers, digital cameras and PDA devices."
The package that the PNY GeForce 8600GT 512MB was shipped in was a good size but it was very light. The front displays some of the key features such as the 512MB onboard memory and how the card is overclocked. The back of the box boasts about the nVidia technology the 8600GT has.
The Pny 8600GT 512MB is bundled with all of the accessories and only takes up about half of the box. Everything is securely in place but I was surprised to not see any bubble wrap or anti-static material around the 8600GT.
The PNY 8600GT’s heatsink has the picture of the character that you see on the front of the box on it. Notice the SLi connector and how there isn’t a power port on the video card. On the back of the card you’ll notice there is a plethora of stickers – BIOS information, barcodes and more. The card has two DVI outputs and an S-Video output.
Included with the PNY 8600GT is the manual, installation CD, two DVI to VGA converters, an S-Video cable, and an HDTV output cable.
Now let’s get the PNY 8600GT installed and configured for optimal use!
To install the PNY 8600GT, turn off your computer, unplug the power cable going to your power supply, remove the side panel of your case, remove the current video card and firmly push the PNY 8600GT into your PCI-Express x16 slot. Now plug in your monitor to the video card’s ports, close up your case, plug in your power cable, and turn on your machine. Insert the included installation CD and follow the onscreen instructions.
Once the software is completely installed, you'll be able to modify and view all of your settings in the nVidia control panel. Let's take a look at the control panel and see just what it can do. When you open up the control panel, there are four categories for you to choose from; 3D Settings, Display, Networking, and Video & Television. The 3D Settings menu is where you'll be able to adjust image settings and also view your current video settings.
The Display category is where you'll want to go to adjust your monitor's resolution, refresh rate, and color settings. I strongly recommend you do this to make sure you're getting everything you can get from your monitor and video card.
I think it's about time we start the intense benchmarks to see how well this PNY 8600GT performs.
Memory Bandwidth (GB/sec.)
24.2 (v. 22.4 Standard)
Fill Rate (billion pixels/sec.)
9.2 (v. 8.64 Standard)
Shader Clock (MHz)
1242MHz (v. 1190MHz Standard)
Core Clock (MHz)
576MHz (v. 540MHz Standard)
Memory Frequency (effective)
1460MHz (v. 1400MHz Standard)
- Overclocked Memory, Core and Shader Clocks
- NVIDIA® unified architecture with GigaThread™ technology
- Full Microsoft® DirectX® 10 Shader Model 4.0 support
- NVIDIA SLI™-Ready
- 16x full-screen anti-aliasing
- True 128-bit floating point high dynamic-range (HDR) lighting
- NVIDIA Quantum Effects™ physics processing technology
- Two dual-link DVI output supports two 2560x1600 resolution displays
- NVIDIA® PureVideo™ HD technology 1
- HDCP Capable2
- PCI Express® support
- OpenGL® 2.0 support
- NVIDIA® ForceWare® Unified Driver Architecture (UDA)
- Built for Microsoft® Windows Vista™
- Outputs: DVI+DVI+HDTV/S-Video
To test the PNY 8600GT video card I'll be running it through an extremely tough series of gaming benchmarks and real-world games. This card will be pushed to the limit and we will see just how well it performs. I'm going to have two other 8600GTs for comparison. Most tests are looking for the highest frames per second (FPS). Higher is better in all tests. Let's stop talking and start benching!
- Processor: Intel E6600 Core 2 Duo at 2.4GHz
- Motherboard: Abit IN9-32 Max
- Memory: 2 x 1GB OCZ Reaper PC2-9200 5-5-5-18
- Video Card: PNY 8600 GT 512MB Overclocked
- Power Supply: CoolerMaster 750w Power supply
- Hard Drive: WD 160GB SATA 3.0GB/s
- Opticals: Sony SATA DVD Burner
- O/S: Windows XP Service Pack 2
- Comparison Card 1: Gigabyte GeForce 8600GT
- Comparison Card 2: XFX 8600GT Fatal1ty
- Far Cry
- Call of Duty II
- Quake 4
- Need For Speed Most Wanted
First up is an older first person shooter named Far Cry. I always like to start with this game to be able to compare it against older video cards since this game has been around for quite some time.
I will be using the Hardware OC Benchmarking Utility version 1.8 with the following settings:
- Maximum quality option, Direct3D renderer
- Level: Volcano, demo: Volcano.tmd
- Pixel shader: model 2.0b
- Anti-aliasing: 4×
- Anisotropic filtering: 8×
- HDR: disabled
- Geometry Instancing: disabled
- Normal-maps compression: disabled
Seems like the XFX 8600GT the card that will be the main competition for the PNY 8600GT.
F.E.A.R. is a popular first person shooter that can be very tough on video cards. I'm going to be using the in-game benchmark to test this video card.
The settings that I will use are below:
- FSAA: x4
- Anisotropic: x16
- Effects: Max
- Computer: High
- Soft Shadow: Off
The PNY 8600GT fares better than the Gigabyte 8600GT in all of the resolutions. However, the XFX 8600GT got the edge in this benchmark.
BioShock, a first person shooter, was a much anticipated title and now is finally on the gaming scene. The new graphics in this game should really push the video card.
- All settings to Maximum
The PNY 8600GT hung with the competition but didn't come out on top in any of the resolutions.
Call of Duty 2 is a popular World War II first person shooter. I'll be testing the card on the multi-player map of Stalingrad, Russia.
The settings used are listed below:
- Anti-aliasing: x4
- Texture Filter: Trilinear
As in the previous tests, the XFX 8600GT comes out on top. The PNY 8600GT continues to do better than the Gigabyte 8600GT in high resolutions, but competes ferociously at the other resolutions.
The next benchmark is the futuristic first person shooter called Quake 4. I'll be using the Hardware OC Quake 4 Benchmark Utility version 1.5 to benchmark this game. I'll be recording the frames per second (FPS).
The settings that I will use are listed below:
- IDsoft Demo
- Quality: High
- Aspect Ratio: [4:3]
- Anti-aliasing: 4×
- Anisotropic filtering: 4x
- Symmetric Multi-Processing (SMP) enabled
The PNY 8600GT defeated the Gigabyte card by a large margin. The XFX card still appears to be superior to the PNY card.
From the popular Need For Speed racing series, I'll be using the 'Most Wanted' game. The scores are the average frames per second in each resolution.
The settings that I will use are listed below.
- All settings at 3/4 of highest performance
- Tests in 3 different resolutions
The PNY 8600GT performed the worst in this benchmarked, compared to the other cards.
3DMark06 is a common benchmark used to test multiple aspects of your video card and CPU. Let's see how well the PNY 8600GT does against the other cards.
- SM2.0 Graphics Tests: GT1- Return to Proxycon, GT2- Firefly Forest
- CPU Tests: Cpu1- Red Valley, CPU2- Red Valley
- HDR/SM3.0 Graphics Tests: HDR1- Canyon Flight, HDR2- Deep Freeze
This test really showed that the PNY 8600GT performes well at higher resolutions - something that I like to see.
RyderMark is a new benchmark that is based on a boat racing game that takes place in Venice, Italy. The test is quite graphically challenging and will surely punish a video card. The benchmark was developed by Candella Software and we'll be releasing a review of the benchmark, so check back soon!
- Shader model 3.0
- Resolutions 1024x768,1280x1024,1680x1050
- AA 4x Quality 8
- AF 16x
- 64 Bit Shader
- Memory set to video card level( 512 or More)
The PNY 8600GT overall did better than the Gigabyte card and actually did better than the XFX card in the 1280x1024 resolution.
So what can we conclude about the PNY 8600GT 512MB Overclocked video card? It clearly showed that it's a mainstream card that was run-of-the-mill. It did do marginally better than the Gigabyte 8600GT, but it wasn’t quite as good as the XFX 8600GT Fatal1ty. I was happy to see that the card didn’t buckle at high resolutions because I usually play my games at 1680x1050. The PNY 8600GT was easy to install and setup, so that was a plus. The card supports the new DirectX 10 technology and in addition, plays graphically challenging games such as BioShock at playable frame rates. However, I wouldn’t recommend the PNY card over the Gigabyte 8600GT because the price is over $70 more expensive and it’s only slightly better than the Gigabyte card. The price is what holds this PNY 8600GT back but if you can hunt around to find a price that is more reasonable than the one listed on PNY’s website, you won’t regret this mainstream video card.
- DirectX 10
- 512MB Onboard Memory
- Easy to Install and Configure
- Average Performance
- Non-competitive price