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Our testing methods
Since we're focused on a single 8600 GTS card today, we won't spend too much time testing 3D gaming performance. For a more in-depth look at how the performance of the GeForce 8600 series compares to that of a wide range of competitors in a slew of different games, check out our initial review of the cards or our more recent Radeon HD 2400 and 2600 series review..

We recently compared a handful of GeForce 8600 series graphics cards, and today we're adding the OC2 to that mix. Here's how the cards stack up in terms of GPUs and clock speeds:

GeForceCore clockSP clockMemory clockMemory size
Asus EN8600GTS/2DHT/256M8600 GTS675MHz1458MHz1008MHz256MB
BFG 8600 GTS OC2 8600 GTS 720MHz 1458MHz 1110MHz 256MB
MSI NX8600GTS-T2D256E OC8600 GTS700MHz1458MHz1050MHz256MB
MSI NX8600GT-T2D256E OC8600 GT580MHz1188MHz800MHz256MB
MSI NX8500GT-T2D256E OC8500 GT459MHz918MHz400MHz256MB
Gigabyte GV-NX86S256H8600 GTS675MHz1458MHz1008MHz256MB

The BFG card has the highest core and memory clocks of the lot, which should give it an advantage in our gaming tests. Interestingly, none of these cards rely on Nvidia's reference cooler, so ThermoIntelligence will be facing off against other attempts to improve on the stock GeForce 8600 GTS heatsink.

All tests were run at least twice, and their results were averaged, using the following test systems.

Processor Core 2 Duo E6400 2.13GHz
System bus1066MHz (266MHz quad-pumped)
Motherboard EVGA 122-CK-NF68
Bios revisionP24
North bridgeNvidia nForce 680i SLI SPP
South bridgeNvidia nForce 680i SLI MCP
Chipset driversForceWare 9.53
Memory size2GB (2 DIMMs)
Memory type Corsair TWIN2X2048-8500C5 DDR2 SDRAM at 800MHz
CAS latency (CL)4
RAS to CAS delay (tRCD)4
RAS precharge (tRP)4
Cycle time (tRAS)12
AudioIntegrated nForce 680i SLI MCP/ALC885 with Realtek HD 1.66 drivers
Graphics Asus EN8600GTS 256MB PCIe
MSI NX8600GTS 256MB PCIe
MSI NX8600GT 256MB PCIe
MSI NX8500GT 256MB PCIe
Gigabyte GV-NX86S256H 256MB PCIe
BFG GeForce 8600 GTS OC2 256MB PCIe
Graphics driverForceWare 158.22 drivers
Hard drive Western Digital Caviar RE2 400GB
OS Windows XP Professional
OS updatesService Pack 2

Thanks to Corsair for providing us with memory for our testing. 2GB of RAM seems to be the new standard for most folks, and Corsair hooked us up with some of its 1GB DIMMs for testing.

Also, all of our test systems were powered by OCZ GameXStream 700W power supply units. Thanks to OCZ for providing these units for our use in testing.

We used the following versions of our test applications:

The test systems' Windows desktop was set at 1280x1024 in 32-bit color at an 85Hz screen refresh rate. Vertical refresh sync (vsync) was disabled for all tests.

All the tests and methods we employed are publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.