Today we tested yet another 8600, and this one comes from Asus. The Asus EN8600GT card is a mid range DirectX 10 product, priced at around €120 in Euroland. Asus clocked its Geforce 8600GT at reference speeds, but the cooler they used is much better, so we can expect better stability, both on default clocks and during out overclocking runs. The Geforce 8600GT uses the same GPU as the GTS version, but it's clocked at lower speeds.
The core works at 540MHz, while the memory is clocked at 1400MHz. Asus uses Samsung's GDDR3 1.4ns passively cooled memory chips. Thanks to the cooler design, the air flow passes through the copper fins and cools the memory chips. If you're lucky to get an 8600GT with a good core you will probably hit GPU speeds in excess of 675MHz with relative ease, keep in mind that the GTS version's core is clocked at 675MHz. Since the GT uses inferior memory it will be the only obstacle to turning your GT into an 8600GTS. The cooler is quiet, and the maximum temperature we got was around 60 degrees Celsius.
The memory is without a doubt the limiting factor, not only for this card, but for the entire series. We had expected a 256 memory bus on the 8600 series, but Nvidia opted for the even cheaper 128 bit memory. This practically halved its bandwidth which undoubtedly resulted in some lower frame rates.
Both the GT and GTS have 32 Shader units and on the tested card they work at 1180MHz. Asus chose not to include HDCP support on this card. The next versions of the card could very easily incorporate this feature, since the passively cooled EN8600GT Silent version already has it.
The I/O side of the card has 2 dual-link DVI connectors and a TV-out (HDTV). If you need a VGA connector you'll have to reach for the DVI-VGA dongle. The good thing is that the card doesn't need an additional power supply.
The box lists only the most basic characteristics on 10 languages. They went even further with the manual, translating it into 20 languages, and this is really a nice touch.
Apart from the card the box includes a driver CD, manual CD, one DVI to VGA dongle, S-Video cable and a CD wallet. Also included is the GamerOSD software for Vista and XP a some sort of chat / online communication software. On the driver CD you'll find a small tweaking tool, if you want to adjust the fan speeds and core/memory frequencies. It's not a great choice for overclockering, as the core frequency when using the tool is limited to just 600MHz.