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First and foremost, the XFX Fatal1ty 8600 GT comes pre-overclocked with the core running at 620MHz (nearly 15 per cent faster than stock speed) the stream processors running at 1355MHz (almost 14 per cent faster than standard) and the memory running at 850MHz (a 21 per cent increase), making it the fastest 8600 GT currently available. These overclocks are so healthy, in fact, that the card is nearly brought up to the speeds of a 8600 GTS, yet it is still a good deal cheaper.
As with the 7600 GT version before it, the overclocking on this card should account for a performance advantage over standard speed cards in line with the average overclock of these three components, i.e. Somewhere around 16 per cent.
The card itself is certainly distinctive with a black, luminous green, red, and silver livery that is striking, if somewhat dubious. The black and silver are fairly universally appealing but, for me at least, the green and red just don't quite work. Having said that, XFX has to get its company colour in there somewhere and likewise Fatal1ty wants his brand logo visible so there's going to be a clash somewhere. Anyway, the green is only on the plastic of the DVI ports which are going to be pretty well hidden away when installed in a case.
The cooler seems to be the exact same one that was used on the 7600 GT version of this card. It has a copper section that sits on the GPU and memory. Two heatpipes run from this section up and round to an array of thin aluminium fins that sit on top and round the back of the card. From here heat is dissipated across a very large surface area allowing the natural flow of air within the case to draw heat away from the card.
During our testing, on an open test bed, the cooler did become quite hot, reaching temperatures of 75 degrees Celsius in among the black fins of the copper section and 68 degrees Celsius on the thin aluminium fins. This is pretty high and could lead to overheating problems in a case without some form of forced airflow. That said the card was rock solid throughout our testing and you would expect high temperatures from a card that is passively cooled.
The large size of the cooler might cause concern for those with more petite cases and those thinking of using this card in an HTPC, to go under the telly, might want to look elsewhere. That said, most tower cases should easily accommodate the card. For the record, the aluminium fins protrude 30mm above the top of the card, 20mm behind it, and add 30mm to its length, making for total dimensions of 140 x 203 x 37mm (HxLxD).
You'll notice the card doesn't require an additional power cable, instead it gets all its power from the PCI-Express slot. This is always nice to see as it saves hassle and mess from extra cabling. Also, SLI connectors are present on the top edge of the card so if you fancy a bit of dual card action, the option is there.
As a relatively cheap product, the XFX Fatal1ty 8600 GT doesn't come with much in the way of accessories. All you get in the box is a DVI-to-VGA converter, an S-Video cable, a driver CD and a quick install manual.