Benchmark Analysis and Overclocking
The overall benchmark performance is kind of a mixed bag, as in some cases the Albatron GeForce 8600 GTS 256MB performs on par with many high-end video cards, while in others, it falls back to mainstream levels. Although there are some individual game discrepancies, the primary differences occur when resolutions and detail levels are increased to extreme levels, such as antialiasing and anisotropic filtering at 1920x1200. This may be a case of the 128bit memory interface coming back to haunt the GeForce 8600 GTS, as the other high-end cards offer at least a 256-bit interface. Even so, the Albatron GeForce 8600 GTS 256MB is the fastest mainstream card we've tested, and easily outpaces the GeForce 7600 GT and Radeon X1650 XT, while finishing extremely close to the Radeon X1950 Pro and GeForce 7900 GT.
Overclocking is very difficult under Windows Vista, and even with applications that work under this operating system, the functionality can still be limited. We used a few, and finally settled on the NVIDIA nTune application, as it gave us the easiest access to clock settings, and offered the best results. Even so, it's no where near as simple as the old Coolbits hack, and there is no automatic overclocking feature, no stability testing - just pure numbers. After working the settings over in a very rudimentary manner, we were able to jack the clock speeds of the Albatron GeForce 8600 GTS 256MB to approximately 11% on the core, and 18% of the memory. This is certainly not an extravagant overclock, but it may have been held back by the Vista operating system.
Current retail pricing on GeForce 8600 GTS 256MB cards sit in the $160-$175 range, and the Albatron model can be found at similar price levels. This compares to other mid-range and high-end cards like the GeForce 7600 GT 256MB ($95-$110), Radeon X1650 XT 256MB ($100-$115), Radeon HD 2600 XT 256MB ($115-$130), GeForce 8600 GT 256MB ($115-$130), Radeon X1950 Pro 256MB ($135-$150), and GeForce 7900 GS 256MB ($150-$160). In this range, the Albatron GeForce 8600 GTS 256MB stands out as an excellent value, especially in the DirectX 10 arena, although the recent price drops to the Radeon X1950 Pro 256MB make it a very close contest.
* Please note that online prices reflect Retail models when possible, only OEM where noted. Prices are taken at the time of review, and are not intended to reflect long-term trends.
NVIDIA may have waited a while before unleashing their mainstream DirectX 10 line, but in many ways, the GeForce 8600 GTS is certainly worth the wait. The Albatron GeForce 8600 GTS 256MB is a very nice implementation of this technology, sporting an attractive retail price and offering a low-profile, quiet-running card for gamers on a budget. The 128-bit memory interface and 32 Stream processors do create a huge gap between it and the GeForce 8800 line, but the high clock speeds help alleviate these concerns, especially at a mainstream price.