We like passive cards, and we're always keen to try out the silent stuff; and this time around Club3D let us have a go at a passive 8600GT card. Club3D's Geforce 8600GT Passive Heatpipe features a dual heatpipe passive cooler, which looks like a scaled down Arctic Cooling Accelero. We didn't ask Club3D if the cooler is actually made by Arctic Cooling, but you can see the family resemblance, and this is a good thing, since we've already seen the Accelero coolers in action and know that they work well.
The heatsink is rather massive, and it's longer than the PCB. In spite of that, this shouldn't be an issue, since the Geforce 8600GT PCB is relatively short. The other good thing is that the aluminum fins aren't placed too close to the PCIe connector, so about a quarter of the card is left naked, which means that you won't have any trouble with chipset heatsinks. As you can see, the fins are nowhere near the motherboard.
The only down side of a passive cooler is the fact that it uses up two slots, but this is the norm for almost all passive cards. It would be a good idea to take out the bracket on the slot adjacent to the card, since it could help improve airflow.
The two copper heatpipes pass through 21 aluminum fins and help dissipate the heat from the copper base. It's a simple, yet effective concept, but you will need good case airflow to keep the temperature down. Otherwise, the hot air just stays around the card, and with time, the temperature rises significantly.
The other side of the cooler clearly shows the copper base and the heatpipes. The mounting is made of aluminum, as are the fins, so the cooler is relatively light in spite of its massive dimensions.
The core temperatures are low, the cooler is efficient and it can even cope witha a slight OC.
The Nvidia G84 GPU is clocked at a reference 540MHz, while the shaders run at 1188MHz. Thanks to the low stock clock and good cooling, you can take the clock up a notch. With 32 Stream Processors and 16 Texture Filtering and Addressing units, the Geforce 8600GT is up to the challenge, at least until you push the resolution up or activate AA and AF.
The 128 bit memory bus is the bottleneck, not just on this card, but on all Nvidia Geforce 8600 and ATI HD2600 cards. At least it helps keep the price low.
The Club3D Geforce 8600 GT Passive Heatpipe is equipped with 512MB of memory. Unfortunately, it uses GDDR2 memory, which means that you can't expect high clocks. Club3D used Samsung's K4N51163QE-ZC20, rated at 2.0 ns, or 500MHz. 512MB should be enough for anyone. Recently, we tested Gainward's 8600GT with 1024MB of GDDR2 memory, and in most cases the extra 512MB were not very useful.
There are a total of eight memory chips on the card with 64MB each. The memory isn't cooled, but with a 1000MHz clock there's really no need for heatsinks.
On the I/O side we see one VGA, one dual link DVI and one S-video connector. HDTV is also supported, and the card is HDCP compatible.
The elegant black box is typical of Club3D. Inside you'll find the card itself, an driver CD, HDTV cable and one DVI to VGA dongle.
No games are included, and there's no HDMI dongle, but even if Club3D included one, you would get no sound on it. In case you're interested in multimedia capabilities, you might want to consider one of Club3D's ATI HD series cards. We reviewed the Club3D HD2600PRO here, and the HD2600XT GDDR4 review is coming soon.
We compared the Club 3D 8600 GT Passive Heatpipe 512MB GDDR2 against the recently tested Gainward 8600 GT with 1024MB of GDDR2 memory. To see how these GDDR2 cards measure up to GDDR3 equipped cards, we also included the Gainward 8600 GT HDMI in our charts. We also included the results for several ATI Radeon HD2600 series cards.
The Club3D's core is clocked at a reference 540MHz, while Gainward overclocked the GPU to 600MHz. The Gainward outperforms the Club3D card, primarily thanks to the 60MHz clock difference. We don't think that the 1024MB of memory helped the score much.
We used the latest officially available drivers, and in some games we noticed that they weren't performing that well. One of the examples is World in Conflict, where we noticed a huge frame rate difference when activating antialiasing in the game, and doing it directly in the driver.
We used the following components for our test:
EVGA 680i SLI (Supplied by EVGA)
Intel Core 2 Duo 6800 Extreme edition (Supplied by Intel)
OCZ FlexXLC PC2 9200 5-5-5-18 (Supplied by OCZ)
na testu CL5-5-5-15-CR2T 1066MHz na 2.2V
Freezer 7 Pro (Ustupio Artic Cooling)
Arctic Cooling - Artic Fan 12 PWM
Arctic Cooling - Artic Fan 8 PWM
Club 3D Geforce 8600 GT Passive does well in 3Dmark 03. As expected, it's slower than the Gainward card with GDDR3 memory, but it's still faster than the reference clocked ATI HD2600XT on stock clocks. Apart from the Club3D card, GDDR2 memory is used on the Gainward 8600GT with 1024MB, but even the 1024MB doesn't help it much; and the GDDR3 equipped Gainward HDMI outperforms it.
Everything counts in the tests, and the Club3D 8600GT passive fails to impress, thanks to its 540MHz clock and GDDR2 memory. Oddly enough, Jetway's HD2600XT wins this one.
The passively cooled Club 3D is simply not up to the challenge, and it's easily outperformed by GDDR3 memory. The Gainward 8600GT with 1024 MB of memory has a slightly faster core, clocked at 600MHz, but the slow GDDR2 memory is holding it back. As you can see, ATI and Nvidia cards are very closely matched.
Looking at the results, you can probably tell that the OC wasn't that high. The card is passively cooled and it's simply not designed for overclocking, but in spite of that we expected a bit more. Although the core temperature wasn't too high, we managed to raise the GPU clock by less than 5 percent, to just 627MHz. The Samsung memory stays stuck at the 500MHz stock clock. The 5 percent core overclock gives us an extra 336 marks.
We used the latest officially available drivers and set all detail levels to maximum, so don't be surprised by low scores. By lowering the detail settings you can get a playable frame rate in all games that we ran. Always take the time to download the latest available drivers, as they might get you a slight performance increase and resolve certain issues.
The Jetway Radeon HD 2600 Pro performs well on 1024x768. At a slightly higher and much more common resolution of 1280x1024, the HD 2600 Pro provides us with a playable framerate.
The Club 3D 8600GT Passive Heatpipe manages well with 35.8 FPS, just behind the Gainward 8600GT HDMI with GDDR3 memory clocked at 1400MHz. Keep in mind that the memory on the Club 3D card is clocked at 1000MHz, while the core clock is identical, reference 540MHz.
The Gainward with 1024MB wins, primarily due to the 60MHz higher clock.
Although the Club 3D 8600 GT Passive Heatpipe is slightly slower than the two Gainward 8600GT cards, it will also provide you with a sufficient frame rate, just like the Gainward cards.
We can see that memory speed is very important in F.E.A.R. The additional 512MB on the Gainward gigabyte card doesn't help much.
It's nice to see a relatively inexpensive card, in this case the Jetway HD 2600 Pro, beat all three Geforce 8600GT cards. We can only hope that Nvidia will improve its drivers in the near future.
The Club 3D 8600 GT passive Heatpipe is a bit slower than the Gainward cards, but the difference is small, almost negligible.
World in Conflict is a demanding game which can bring most graphics cards to their knees. We see that our four cards barely got us a playable frame rate at 1024x768. Combined with AA and a slightly higher resolution, the game becomes a brutal tyrant and the poor cards just can't keep up with it. If you need a higher resolution you can forget about AA and high details.
Club 3D 8600 GT Passive Heatpipe with GDDR2 memory performs on par with the GDDR3 equipped Gainward 8600 GT HDMI. It looks as if the Club3D's 512MB versus 256MB on the Gainward really pays off. The Gainward 1024MB card scores 2FPS, or 8 percent better than the other GeForce cards.
We tested the Club 3D Geforce 8600 GT Passive Heatpipe card on reference 8600 GT clocks, 540MHz for the core and 1000MHz for the 512MB of GDDR memory. The main selling point for this card is not high clocks and overclockability, but the silent operation, courtesy of the passive heatpipe cooler.
The cooler strongly resembles Arctic Cooling's Accelero and performs well. As always, when getting a passive card, you should assure good airflow in the chassis.
It's hard to go for a GDDR2 card these days, especially when so many cards with faster memory are available in the same price range, but the low price and memory size might be appealing to some consumers. We noted that its performance doesn't suffer much when compared to the GDDR3 card with 256MB or the GDDR2 card with 1024MB of memory.
It's just slightly slower than the other two 8600 GT cards we compared it to, but it's passively cooled, silent and still offers enough power for the casual gamer. If you're not too interested in the latest games, and you would rather keep your machine quiet, the Club 3D Geforce 8600 GT Passive Heatpipe is an interesting option. At €100 it's one of the lowest priced passively cooled 8600GT cards with 512MB of memory, albeit it uses slow GDDR2 memory.