The 8600s turn in a commanding performance in 3DMark, as they did in some of the more shader-intensive games. The GTS's lead over the Radeon X1950 Pro narrows considerably at 2048x1536, but crazy high resolutions like that are typically the domain of video cards more expensive than any we're testing here.
The 8600 GT, meanwhile, is just a slam-dunk in its price class, as these results help confirm.
The 8600 GTS trails the 7900 GS and X1950 Pro in 3DMark's simple pixel shader benchmark, reminding us of the G84 GPU's limitations. That reminder, though, is promptly counterbalanced by an out-of-this-world performance from the 8600 cards in 3DMark's two vertex shader tests. The G84 GPU's unified architecture allows it to dedicate the lion's share of its shader processing power to vertex processing as needed, giving it a big edge over the older DX9 chips.
3DMark's particle simulation gives us a sense of how these GPUs might handle one type of physics processing task, and again, the 8600s excel. Meanwhile, the Radeons can't run this test because they lack support for vertex texture fetch.