We've recently found out that Gainward will be among the first to have a Geforce 8600GT with HDMI out, and not long after that we received a sample. So far, we have seen many Nvidia cards that enable HDMI signal trough DVI out, but it seems that Gainward are the first ones to feature a real HDMI connector on a card.
The name of this Gainward's new toy is BLISS-8600GT-256MB-HDMI-DD.
Nvidia's problem is that the audio controller is not an integrated part of the chip so the sound has to be routed to the card separately, then to be merged with video in order to get a full multimedia stream on HDMI out. Zotac first came up with a solution by using a S-PDIF connector on the graphics card. You would need to connect the „in“ with a SPDIF out on the motherboard or sound card with a cable that comes in the graphics card's box.
Although it is a solution to a problem of digital sound in HDMI, we've noticed that not all motherboards feature a SPDIF out, or even when they do, it proves to be a complicated procedure for an inexperienced user. The other problem was that DVI to HDMI dongle was necessary.
First glance at a Gainward card proves that there had been certain changes when it comes to sound capture. SPDIF has been relocated to the I/O side of the card, and HDMI has also found its rightful place.
It's a good thing that DVI and VGA outs are still on the card. You connect a cinch cable to a S-PDIF out on the motherboard.
We've tested the functionality and after connecting HDMI to a TV we had to install all the necessary drivers in order to make it work. The problem arose after trying to connect SPDIF in on the graphics card to SPDIF out on the motherboard.
EVGA 680i, the motherboard that we use for graphics card testing, uses an optical SPDIF out that we couldn’t connect a cable to. It is sad that not everyone will be able to enjoy a full HDMI signal. You need to be careful when buying a graphics card, so first check whether your motherboard features a matching SPDIF out connector. If your motherboard doesn’t feature such a connector maybe your soundcard does. In any case, you should check.
We had more luck with a DFI NF590 SLI-M2R/G motherboard. Sound played immediately after connecting SPDIF in with SPDIF out with a cinch cable.
If you’re just interested in HDMI video, and you intend to route the sound from the soundcard, or trough an amplifier, then it’s not a problem. Gainward BLISS 8600GT HDMI works flawlessly.
We’ve done some brief testing of this card that runs at Nvidia 8600 GT reference speeds. For those who have forgotten, the core runs at 540MHz, and DDR3 memory at 1400MHz.
We compared the two Geforce 8600GT cards with similar characteristics. Zotac 8600 GT Zone Edition is also a passively cooled card that offers full HDMI signal, but using DVI to HDMI dongle.
Both cards run at reference speeds and 3DMark 06 test shows they’re identical.
The game that we tested also shows no noticeable difference among the cards.
We’ll do some more extensive testing so be sure to drop by soon and read the rest.