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MSI NX8600GT-T2D256E-OC Geforce 8600GT Videocard Review
MSI NX8600GT-T2D256E-OC Geforce 8600GT Videocard Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: Reading through the spec sheet for the nVIDIA GeForce 8600GT GPU, you might be mistaken for thinking it's a high performance graphics processor.
Filed under: Video Cards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: MSI Jul 12 2007   C. Sun  
Home > Reviews > Video Cards > MSI NX8600GT-T2D256E-OC

nVidia GeForce 8600GTS Technology

The 80nm nVidia 'G84' core at the heart of the MSI NX8600GT-T2D256E-OC videocard has 289 million transistors, and according to nVIDIA documents a maximum power draw of 65W.

That's 11W clear of what the PCI Express x16 slot can provide (maximum 75W) and why GeForce 8600GT videocards do not have an external power connector.

The default clock speed of the nVidia GeForce 8600GT is 540 MHz (MSI clocks the core at 580 MHz), while the stream processors hum along at 1.18 GHz.

The nVidia 'G84' core only comes equipped with 32 stream processors as opposed to 96/128 for the nVidia 'G80' core. The memory runs at a flat 1.4 GHz (again overclocked by MSI to 1.6 GHz), yet with the GeForce 8600GT the memory bus width is only 128 bits. That translates into a slight memory bandwidth limitation, particularly at higher resolutions or with visual effects like AntiAliasing enabled. Maximum memory size is supposed to be 256MB for all 'G84' based videocards.

While the 'G84' core carries forward with nVidia's current thinking of how a graphics processor should be built, there are a few notable changes from the 'G80.' Gone are the hard coded Vertex and pixel shaders, they've been replaced with a more flexible Stream Processor (or unified shader) that calculates both types of data. The Stream Processors runs at 1.18 GHz incidently. It's important to note that the GeForce 8600GT and 8600GTS GPUs have 32 stream processors each, while the GeForce 8800GTS model has 96 and the 8800GTX 128. If you remember, 16 stream processors equals one thread processor, so there are only two in the nVidia 'G84' core.

Each Thread Processor has two groups of eight Stream Processors, and each group talks to an exclusive texture address filter unit as well as well as being connected to the shared L1 cache. When more memory is needed, the Thread Processor connects to the crossbar memory controller. nVIDIA's crossbar memory controller is broken up into two 64 bit chunks for a total bus width of 128 bits. By moving the GPU towards a threaded design, the nvidia 'G84' is much more like a processor than any graphics core of the past. Any type of data - be it pixel, vertex, or geometry shader can be processed within the Stream Processor. This allows load balancing to occur between the various tasks.

When it comes to videogames, we really just care that things look fantastic and move at a quick pace. For that reason it's great to know that a mainstream GPU like the Geforce 8600GT supports the following graphic must have's: nVIDIA's CineFX 5.0 shading architecture which includes unified vertex and pixel shaders, 64 bit texture filtering and blending, 64 bit texture filtering and blending, nVIDIA's UltraShadow II and nVIDIA's Intellisameple 4.0 Technology. The card will run at gaming resolutions as high as 2048x1536 at 85 Hz, and it supports nVIDIA's nView multi display capabilities. According to MSI, the NX8600GT-T2D256E-OC has 22.4GB/s of bandwidth and a fill rate of 8.6 billion pixels. Wow.

nVidia PureVideo HD:

As for miscellaneous core technologies, by default the GeForce 8600GT supports HDCP over both DVI and HDMI although the latter connector is up to the manufacturers discretion to implement. The GeForce 8600GT model may or may not have HDCP support, that is up to individual vendors. With the release of the GeForce 8600GT core, nVIDIA is also updating its PureVideo technology. Dubbed "PureVideo HD" the videocard can now handle the entire decoding processor of HD-DVD and Blu-Ray movies with video playback with resolutions up to 1920x1080p. According to nVIDIA 100% of high definition video decoding can be off loaded onto the videocard at speeds of up to 40Mb/s.

According to nVIDIA when running two GeForce 8 series videocards in SLI, PureVideo can be offloaded onto two GPUs for parallel processing which should further decrease CPU load! nVIDIA's PureVideo HD supports H.264 hardware decode acceleration as well as decryption for AES-128 CTR, AES-128 CBC and AES-128 ECB encryption found on Blu-Ray and HD DVD discs.

To improve video quality, PureVideo HD also supports colour temperature correction which should improve quality of colours. Thanks to Microsoft's Video Mixing Renderer (VMR) support (later dubbed Enhanced Video Renderer in Vista), you can watch several high definition videos at the same time. Finally, the GeForce 8 series GPU has built in HDTV support. Although it's up to the manufacturer to implement it onto the videocard as usual.

As it is PureVideo HD will be of benefit to Blu-Ray/HD-DVD type movies only, and does not boost WMV9 playback at this time. That means high definition videos using the Microsoft standard will only be accelerated to previous PureVideo levels.

Examining CPU Load with PureVideo

To test PureVideo's High Definition accelerating capabilities on the MSI NX8600GT-T2D256E-OC videocard, PCSTATS will play back a video downloaded from Microsoft's WMV HD Content Showcase through Windows Media Player 10. "The Discoverers" (IMAX) video is available in both 720P and 1080P formats. AMD processor utilization will be monitored via Task Manager.

When running the 720P version of the Discoverers video, CPU usage jumps between 15-18% which is pretty low and in line with the other nVIDIA GeForce videocards that we've tested in the last year.

The 1080P version of the Discoverers video uses even less CPU usage, here we're looking at between 13-15%! That's some pretty good CPU usage numbers and you'll have no problems running things in the background. Up next, overclocking the MSI NX8600GT-T2D256E-OC videocard!

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Contents of Article: MSI NX8600GT-T2D256E-OC
 Pg 1.  MSI NX8600GT-T2D256E-OC Geforce 8600GT Videocard Review
 Pg 2.  — nVidia GeForce 8600GTS Technology
 Pg 3.  Overclocking the MSI NX8600GT-T2D256E-OC
 Pg 4.  Videocard Benchmarks: 3DMark05, 3DMark06
 Pg 5.  Videocard Benchmarks: FarCry
 Pg 6.  Videocard Benchmarks: Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
 Pg 7.  Videocard Benchmarks: Doom 3, Quake 4
 Pg 8.  Videocard Benchmarks: FEAR
 Pg 9.  DX10 Videocard Benchmarks: Call of Juarez, Lost Planet
 Pg 10.  PCSTATS Maximum Videocard Overclocking Chart & Conclusions

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