Given that I only received this PC a few hours ago, I wasn’t able to run any real benchmarks on it, but I did spend a bit of time playing some games, most notably S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Now, anyone who’s played S.T.A.L.K.E.R. will know that it has the ability to bring even fast PCs to their knees, so I was keen to see how the 3XS OC-GTS would handle the game.
To make things really interesting, I hooked the PC up to a 24in Dell widescreen monitor with a 1,920 x 1,200 native resolution. Firing up S.T.A.L.K.E.R. at 1,920 x 1,200 with no FSAA, High Quality settings and Full Dynamic Lighting really did have the OC-GTS struggling. In fact I was lucky to get anything higher than 13fps, and that’s before the action really kicked off.
It’s the lighting effects that are the real performance issue with S.T.A.L.K.E.R. so I dropped the settings down to Static Lighting and lowered the Quality setting to Medium. The result was a far more playable 80fps during general wandering around, although when the action kicked off it did start to struggle a little. On the whole though, the 3XS OC-GTS can play a game like this at 1,920 x 1,200 as long as you’re careful with your settings.
Dropping the resolution down to a more reasonable 1,280 x 800 produced interesting results, proving categorically that the dynamic lighting is an absolute hardware killer. With the Quality set to High and Full Dynamic Lighting enabled, the OC-GTS struggled to break 30fps. However, switching the Quality setting to Medium and dropping the lighting to Static raised performance to around 180fps! So, as long as you’re willing to compromise on the lighting effects, you can probably be quite generous with everything else at this kind of resolution.
It’s important to remember that the 8600 GTS is a midrange card, so you shouldn’t expect it to move mountains. However, as with pretty much all of nVidia’s graphics boards, the beauty of the 8600 GTS is that you can always slap another card in later and take advantage of SLI.
With a price tag of under £1,000 the 3XS OC-GTS definitely looks good value, and is a worthy show pony for nVidia’s new card. If it was me though, I’d be tempted to push the boat out a little and go for two 8600 GTS cards, with both of them water cooled, but even in its current configuration, you have the option to do just that later on.
Scan has produced a great little gaming system based on nVidia’s new GeForce 8600 GTS graphics card. The build quality may be a little untidy around the edges, but this is still a very good looking and solid machine.
If it were me buying, I’d probably tweak the specification slightly, but then that’s exactly what Scan expects its customers to do anyway. Regardless of that, as it stands, the water cooling, overclocked CPU and memory, plus the DX10 compliant graphics card, make this a good choice for the serious gamer on a budget.
Score in detail