nVidia's top of the line GPU, the 8800 series, has 128 stream processors. You would think that the next level would have half that, 64 stream processors. Unfortunately divide that in half again and you get 32, which is what the 8600 GPU has in it.
Direct X 10
Direct X 10 is a big step forward. Previously, video cards had vertex and pixel pipelines for rendering the game. This would leave the pipeline that isn't being fully worked doing nothing while another may be backlogged with work. Direct X 10 was made to prevent this by unifying this process.
One of the biggest points of interest with Direct X 10 is that it is exclusively for the Microsoft Vista operating system with no plans for making it compatible for XP. Since DX 10 is such a big change, earlier games based on DX 9 wouldn't play nice with DX10, so a built in API is in place that will help deal with previously made games. We will take a look at a DX10 game to see how this first generation DX10 card performs. For this reason this entire review will be done in Vista.
This is your typical graphics card. There are a few things I would like to point out. First, it's red! This makes it look more like an ATI card than nVidia's traditional green PCB.
The next big thing I noticed was the cooler. It's copper and looks like it will provide better cooling than the stock cooler. Moe cooling is always a good thing in my book.
Dual DVI is becoming the standard here. Any time now we can hope to see monitors becoming only DVI as well.
The last point is that I see no additional power plugs. It's still nice to see that some decent graphics cards don't require more power than PCI-Express can give. This will make power supplies all over a little happier.
This card has 256 MB GDDR3 RAM on it. This is a good amount for this card. Any less and it would be starved; any more would be wasted. Save more RAM for the top of the line. We see low end cards with lots of memory on them. This is more of a marketing scheme than for performance.
This card comes overclocked out of the box. The reference core runs at 540 MHz; the core on the MSI NX8600 GT is bumped up to 580 MHz. The RAM is clocked at a blazing 800 MHz, that's an extra 100 MHz compared to the reference clocks.
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