Summary

Our Score

8/10

Review Price free/subscription

With nVidia launching the GeForce 8600 GTS card today, Scan sent us over a PC incorporating nVidia’s new baby this morning. We generally prefer a bit more notice than a few hours with a review sample, but I thought that this machine was worth making an exception for.

The GeForce 8600 represents nVidia’s mid range, sitting below the flagship 8800 parts. Like the GeForce 8800, the 8600 is fully DirectX 10 compliant, which means you should be reasonably future proof with the upcoming generation of games. But the question is whether the 8600 will actually be up to the task of playing next generation games, even if it is DirectX 10 compliant.

The GeForce 8600 GTS has a core clock speed of 675MHz, compared to the 540MHz core speed of the 8600 GT, which sits one rung down the performance ladder. Both cards feature 256MB of video memory, but again the GTS runs a higher clock of 2GHz, compared to 1.4GHz for the GT. Those specs look pretty good considering the GeForce 8600's positioning, but when you see that the memory bus is only 128-bit, it’s clear that the 8600 sits quite a way behind its 8800 brethren.

To be fair though the GeForce 8600 is priced significantly lower than even the budget 8800 GTS 320, so it’s no great surprise that it can’t compete when it comes to performance. We’ll have a full review of the GeForce 8600 in the next few days, but in the meantime, let’s see how nVidia’s latest graphics card behaves in a custom built system from Scan.

The 3XS OC-GTS that Scan sent over earlier today is a good looking box. The whole thing is wrapped up in a CoolerMaster Mystique RC-631 midi-tower case, which is a pretty good start. Constructed from machined aluminium, this case certainly looks the part. The wavy front fascia harks back to CoolerMaster’s iconic WaveMaster case of yore, although having waves actually cut into the fascia and door is a nice touch.

Like the WaveMaster, the Mystique has a set of I/O ports on the top of the case. Here you’ll find two USB 2.0 ports, a four-pin FireWire port, a headphone socket and a microphone socket. Unlike the WaveMaster, the Mystique doesn’t hide these top mounted ports behind a spring loaded door, which is a good thing – the only thing that door on the WaveMaster accomplished was scaring my cat every time he stepped on it and it sprung open!

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