XFX 8600 GTS XXX Edition

Admin - 2007-07-09 09:19:24 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: Admin   
Reviewed on: July 10, 2007
Price: $220.99


So you don’t like change and dread parting with that old DirectX 9 card that gave you years of solid performance, but it's starting to fall behind the times. Finally, after much debate you decide to move forward and purchase a new DirectX 10 video card, but you really don’t want to spend your whole paycheck on one. You make the decision to purchase a “mainstream” video card that will give you the ability to play upcoming DirectX 10 games and possibly have HD capabilities. One of your choices will be the XFX 8600 GTS XXX Edition. This DirectX 10 video card comes pre-overclocked, has 256Mb of DDR3 memory and is also HDCP and HDTV ready. Your mouth is beginning to water, but before you start to drool, you choose to do a little research.

“XFX is a division of Pine Technologies, which was founded in 1989. Their mission is to take you where their competition would like to, but simply cannot. XFX boasts incredible mind blowing video performance at a price that won’t hurt your pocket.”

Closer Look:

The outer shell of the package has the now infamous XFX Logo of the drooling dog, minus an item that was included on the first lot of packaging, but it is still an eye catcher. The back of the box lists features and after taking off the outer sleeve, a clear plastic cutout reveals the 8600's heat sink.




The face of the card has a new heat sink imprinted with XFX dog tags and, of course, the card has a PCI-E interface. Looking towards the rear upper portion is the input for the 6-pin PCI Express connector. The 8600 has Dual DVI out Connectors and an S-video out.




Included are also an S-Video Cable, Molex to PCI-E converter and a DVI to D-Sub dongle.



Installing the XFX 8600 GTS XXX is not unlike installing a PCI card. Since the card is PCI-E you will need a motherboard that supports it. After shutting down your computer, unpluging your PSU, and opening your case, find the slot that holds your current video card you are replacing and remove it. Insert the 8600 GTS XXX into the slot and plug one of your PCI-E power connectors from your PSU into the rear of the card. Unlike the 8800 GT/GTS, you will not need two expansion slots available, as the heat sink does not need to pull outside air. Close your case, plug your PSU back in, and boot up your computer. You will then need to use the supplied CD to install the software drivers for the card. Depending on the age of the card, there is a possibility that there are updated drivers available direct from nVidia, so it is suggested that you check the nVidia site.


Configuring the 8600 GTS XXX is no different than configuring other recent XFX video cards, so I will use the same screens as I did with the last reviews. Included with the video card is a driver disk, which contains not only the nVidia drivers for the video card, but other interesting software as well. After it is placed in your CD-ROM drive, the XFX driver disk will auto run and once accessed, you will find all the available options. 



The first option on the disk is registration; by registering the video card, you will be able to take advantage of XFX’s “Double Lifetime Warranty”, covering not only you for the lifetime of the video card, but also if you happen to sell it at any point, the person who buys it from you will also be covered (Details).



The next step is to install the video drivers. The drivers included are Windows Drivers, Directx 9c and TV Capture.



Once the video drivers are installed, you will have the option to install the included Bundled Software, Trial Games and Personal Cinema. If you are thinking about overclocking your XFX 8800 GTS video card, an overclocking tool is included in the bundled software.



There are three Trial Games that are offered to try.



The Personal Cinema drivers allow you to turn your PC into a media center.






Memory Interface
128 Bit
Memory Bandwidth
32 GB/sec
Fill Rate
10.8 billion/sec
400 MHz
Stream Processors
Shader Clock
1450 MHz
Clock Rate
730 MHz
Memory Clock
2.26 GHz
Dual Link DVI - Supporting digital output up to 2560x1600
Game Bundle
Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter
Shader Clock
1595 MHz
GeForce 8600 GTS
256 MB
Bus Type
Memory Type
Memory Bus
64 GB/sec
Highlighted Features
HDTV ready , SLI ready , Dual DVI Out , TV Out , HDCP Ready , RoHS




Testing Setup:


Gaming Benchmarks:


Benchmark: Far Cry

As I have in the past, I will begin with Far Cry. Although it is an older game, it is still a very popular benchmark and I always like to see what results any video card will bring.






The HD 2900 XT is a 512 MB video card, which is twice that of the XFX 8600 GTS XXX, yet even in the highest tested resolution, there was only a 22 fps difference.


Benchmark: F.E.A.R.

F.E.A.R. is also a first person shooter, and it has its own benchmark built into the game.









With the newest patch, you can finally run F.E.A.R. at 1280x1024. For a long time I have seen other reviewers (including myself) use the 1280x1024 resolution as a benchmark, yet the only 1280 resolution in F.E.A.R. was 1280x960. F.E.A.R. has always seemed to hurt graphics boards.


Benchmark: Call of Duty 2

Call of Duty 2, the second installment in the Call of Duty Series, is an intense, action-packed WW2 thriller where you can fight on all battlefronts of the European Theater.









Call of Duty 2 is one of my favorite games. I normally play at resolutions of 1280x1024, and the XFX 8600 GTS XXX reached an average of 52 fps.  For the average gamer, this should not be a problem, considering most everyone I know plays at resolutions of 1024x768 (73 fps).


Benchmark: Quake 4

Quake 4 is a popular first person shooter, and has been around for quite sometime. Soon the newest Quake will be released (Enemy Territory: Quake Wars), and once again our benchmarks might be slated for a change.










This version (1.5) is rough on video cards, I'm wondering if there is a card out there that will exceed 100 fps in higher resolutions.


Benchmark: Need For Speed Most Wanted

This is a racing game in which you can choose from a number of vehicles, different types of vehicle setups and also choose which type of race course you prefer.










In lower resolutions, a good CPU can make a difference in frame rates, but as resolutions increase the CPU becomes less of an input and the video cards' abilities will take over. The XFX 8600 GTS XXX stood well against its other two DirectX 10 counterparts, and excelled when compared to the DirectX 9 video cards.


Benchmark: Microsoft Flight Simulator X

Microsoft FSX is a very demanding game and can punish a video card. So let's sit back and fly to our favorite destination and take in all the scenery. The next three benchmarks will just consist of the three DirectX 10 cards.










Amazingly the XFX 8600 GTS XXX did better than the 8800 GTS.


Benchmark: 3d Mark 06

For the time being, default settings will be used while benchmarking 3D Mark 06 Professional.










Benchmark: RyderMark

RyderMark is a new benchmark developed by Candella Software. There are many options that can be changed in the benchmark; I played with different settings, different shaders, and more, and hopefully have come up with a good combination. The benchmark is themed in Venice Italy during a speed boat race. Please check back for a full review on this new benchmark.
















The XFX 8600 GTS XXX performed much better than its DirectX 9 mainstream competitors in all benchmarks across the board (N.B.: Although prices of the DirectX 9 video cards are closer to entry level at this time, when they were released into the mainstream market, the prices on these cards were similar in price to the 8600 GTS). Being a 256Mb 128-bit video card with nVidias new 128-bit floating point High Dynamic Range, that includes support for anti-aliasing, the 8600 GTS in lower resolutions (where a CPU can aid a video card) produced some very close results to the two higher-end video cards, even overtaking the 8800GTS XXX and Sapphire HD 2900 XT in two benchmarks and equaling them in one. This is a plus to those who choose to game in resolutions under 1280x1024.

I’m impressed with the design of the new heat sink; I have always thought that XFX's older designs were too loud when at full speed, and worse when they would rev up and down. I did not have this problem with the new design; although it could be heard when running at full speed, it was no where near as loud as its predecessors, and the annoying up and down cycling has totally disappeared.

Although it is not a concern of mine, the XFX 8600 GTS XXX does need an extra power source, so some users might have to upgrade their PSU. At load, my entire system's power consumption was just below the 250W range, with a water cooling system. This was much lower than the 8800 GTS and Sapphire HD 2900 XT, which at times both peaked in the upper 300's. So feasibly, the minimum recommended 350W PSU should be sufficient.

So does the XFX 8600 GTS deserve an award based on its performance? Yes. As to what award it will receive, that will have to wait until OCC conducts its mainstream DirectX 10 roundup. So check back in two weeks to see which saliva producing award the XFX 8600 GTS XXX receives.