As a casual observer of the videocard industry, it's
interesting how trends repeat in cycles. From completely bare reference
videocards to fully featured videocards with elaborate VGA heatsinks and
software packages, the PC industry seems to swing from one extreme to the other. Presently manufacturers are in a "giving" mood. Most mainstream videocards come with at least one game and most have swanky custom heatsinks that are whisper quiet. Let's also not forget bundled in cables and converters too.
When it comes to bundled games and applications, on the whole there are more
titles to get excited about; games like Ghost Recon Advanced
Warfighter and Company of Heroes offer weekends of fun gaming
bliss. In this review, we're very happy to discover Gigabyte bundle Dawn of
War Dark Crusade with its entry level GV-NX85T256H videocard.
To be fair, the Dawn of War series is not as eye catching as the other
titles, but it's still fun.
The Gigabyte GV-NX85T256H videocard is based on nVIDIA's GeForce 8500GT core and is backed up by 256MB of GDDR2 memory. This PCI Express videocard is SLI compatible, and employs a unique passive heatsink to keep it cool, without generating a single decibel of noise. That's right, no fans to add to the noise level of your computer. Of course, good system airflow is a foregone requirement.
With a retail price of $106 CDN ($101 US, £50 GBP) the Gigabyte GV-NX85T256H videocard is priced towards the upper end of the GeForce 8500GT spectrum, but you do get a lot here. Besides the game title, the box includes an S-Video/component break out box and DVI to analog converter.
The Gigabyte GV-NX85T256H videocard is based on the reference nVIDIA GeForce 8500GT layout, and even though it has a large passive heatsink, it doesn't take up more than one slot. Although, you'll want to leave the adjacent expansion slot free to help keep airflow moving unrestricted over the aluminum fins.
The cards' 256MB of GDDR2 does not actually make any contact with the large aluminum heatsink, but that's not a big deal since it runs rather cool anyway. At the top left hand corner of the videocard is the SLI bridge connector, Gigabyte protects the contacts with a rubber sleeve. If you want to run two GeForce 8500GT videocards in SLI, just stick a second one into the motherboard, connect the bridge connector and you're set.
The game Dawn of War Dark Crusade is a real time strategy and one of the prettier games on the market, if you're into that genre it'll keep you entertained for a good weekend or two. It's great to see that Gigabyte is able to include a game with its entry level videocard and the GV-NX85T256H is pretty cheap too.
Next up we'll try our hand at overclocking, but first a quick run through nVidia's Geforce 8500GT capabilities...