Enthusiasts have been crying out for mid-range DirectX 10 graphics cards for some time now and to some extent their wishes were granted when Nvidia announced its GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB in February.
This lowered the barrier of entry for DirectX10 hardware down to the £200 mark and provided some great frame rates at 1600x1200 with maximum in-game details. While GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB was a good product in the right configuration, it didn’t really hit at an affordable enough price point for the majority.
Nvidia is looking to fill the gaps in its DirectX 10 lineup today with the announcement of three new products – enter GeForce 8600 GTS, GeForce 8600 GT and GeForce 8500 GT. Together, these three parts will cover price points from $229 USD all the way down to $89 USD.
However, despite announcing all three products today, Nvidia has chosen to stagger the launch availability of these products. Only GeForce 8600 GTS will ‘hard launch’ today – it should be on sale at the larger online retailers by the time you’ve read our review.
Nvidia claims that it is still hard launching GeForce 8600 GT and GeForce 8500 GT, but the availability date is given as ‘before May 1st’. As a result of this, we will only be looking at the GeForce 8600 GTS today, and we’ll pay GeForce 8600 GT and GeForce 8500 GT a visit before their scheduled availability date.
The three cards being announced today are based on two different cores, namely G84 and G86. The former is used in both GeForce 8600 GTS and GeForce 8600 GT, while GeForce 8500 GT is based on the G86 core. Both of these new graphics processing cores are fabbed on TSMC’s 80 nanometre process and feature a new video processing engine, amongst other things. Before we get onto the hardware, let’s have a look at the architecture behind G84 and G86.