XFX Fatal1ty 8600 GT Professional Series Page: 1
Introduction

The 8600 GT proved to be a decent deal for those wanting a graphics card at a around £100 that had a little punch to it when we reviewed it last month. XFX have now decided to step up to the plate again and add some passive cooling.

We take it into our labs and see what it can do...

Package

As with all XFX products the 8600 GT Fatal1ty is very well packaged and would stand out on the shelf of most retail stores. The Fatal1ty branding is present on the front and rear of the box and there is also a nifty little window for you to see what your buying too. As I said the Fatal1ty branding abounds on the packaging but alas, unfortunately so does Mr. Wendel's face. Still...maybe that's what sells nowadays (put the claws away - Ed)??

xfx fatal1ty 8600 gt xfx fatal1ty 8600 gt

Quickly shedding the outer layer of packaging in search of something more palatable, we found the interior of the box to be well organised and pretty resistant to damage by careless couriers and poor posties.

xfx fatal1ty 8600 gt

All in all a good job by XFX with plenty of padding in the right places.

Package

The package with the 8600 GT Fatal1ty is actually pretty sparse, even for a mid-range card. No sight of any software included with the card and certainly not a whole load of hardware. This is a pretty bare package so don't expect to have a box full of AAA titles to play on.

Included:

* XFX Driver Disc
* S-Video Connector guide
* Quick Install Guide
* DVI to VGA converter
* S-Video to S-Video cable

xfx fatal1ty 8600 gt

That's a bit of a shame really as it doesn't set the bundle aside from the competition.

Specification

Let's see how the card stacks up. There's not much info on XFX's website about the cards specs, but they are the same as the 8600GT we previously reviewed.

 Reference 8600 GT XFX "Fatal1ty" 8600 GT Reference 8600 GTS
Stream Processors 32 3232
Core Clock (MHz)
540 620 675
Shader Clock (MHz)
1130 13551450
Memory Clock (MHz) 700 8001000
Memory Amount 256mb GDDR3
256mb GDDR3256 GDDR3
Memory Interface 128-bit 128-bit128-bit
Memory Bandwidth (GB/sec) 22.4 22.432
Texture Fill Rate (billion/sec) 8.6 8.6 10.8

And the detailed specs:

* Clock rate
620 MHz

* Dual Link DVI - Supporting digital output up to 2560x1600
Dual

* Highlighted Features
HDCP Ready , RoHS , TV Out , SLI ready , HDTV ready , Dual DVI Out

* Chipset
GeForce 8600 GTS

* RAMDACs
400 MHz

* Stream Processors
32

* Shader Clock
1355 MHz

* Memory Clock
1.6 GHz

* Memory
256 MB

* Bus Type
PCI-E

* Memory Type
DDR3

* Memory Bus
128 bit

* Memory Interface
128 bit

* Memory Bandwidth
22.4 GB/sec

* Fill Rate
8.6billion/sec

*Cooling
Passive

Now let's take a look at the card...


XFX Fatal1ty 8600 GT Professional Series Page: 2
XFX Fatal1ty 8600 GT Professional Edition

The first thing you notice with the XFX Fatal1ty 8600GT is the rather domineering heatpipe cooler strapped to the card. The 8600 GT is a rather small card and the heatsink really takes centre stage. You'll notice that the heatpipes and fins rise above the level of the card, but this shouldn't be a problem in a normal ATX case.

xfx 8600 gt fatal1ty edition

The Fatal1ty logo takes centre stage on the card and the overall effect certainly wouldn't be out of place at a LAN Party.

xfx fatal1ty 8600 gt

The rear of the card is the standard "XXX" Edition black PCB, not that that is a bad thing, black PCB's are the way to go in my opinion. The cooler wraps around the rear of the card with 4 heatpipes (2 connected) shedding the heat of the GPU and memory.

xfx fatal1ty 8600 gt xfx fatal1ty 8600 gt heatpipe

8600 GT fatal1ty edition

There is no external power connector on the card, which is normal for the power efficient 8600 GT. The card also has a retention mechanism on the top keeping the large cooler stable. XFX also added a plastic shield to the rear of the cooler's fins to shield from any short-outs from the metal fins and the PCB.

xfx fatal1ty 8600gt

The 8600GT has two Dual Link DVI ports for output as well as an S-Video out. It's at this point I will remind you that no HDTV connection is included, which is a shame. Having said that, the DVI ports are both HDCP enabled so you should be good to go if you want to connect to your HDCP enabled HDTV...if it has DVI-in.

The Cooler

The cooler on the card is very effective. Silent and efficient the cooler kept the card at 52°C idle and 79°c load. Compare this with the stock cooler that runs at 50°C and 77°C load, and it's not too bad at all (ambient 22°C in both cases).

xfx fatal1ty 8600gt xfx fatal1ty 8600gt

All in all XFX have done a great job putting together an attractive graphics card with a great cooling solution that makes no noise whatsoever.


XFX Fatal1ty 8600 GT Professional Series Page: 3
Test Setup

The setup is:

CPU: Intel Core2Duo E6700 @ 3.33Ghz
Motherboard: XFX 650i Ultra
RAM: 1gb Mushkin XP2-5300 4-4-4-12
Sound: Creative Labs X-Fi fatal1ty FPS
HDD: OS - 160gb Hitachi Deskstar SATA II
HDD: Gaming - 2 x 40gb Hitachi Deskstars in RAID 0
Power: Silverstone Zeus 560w
Case: Silverstone TJ09
Cooling: Scythe Infinity

Please note that I am comparing this card with the numbers from a previous review on the 8600 roundup (here). The only difference in setup is the motherboard used (previously the FP-IN9 SLI),

I am using a manual run-through of the games listed, exactly the same as in previous reviews, but doing it slightly differently to get some consistant numbers. Notice that for all games I ran through at 1280 x 1024, with the same amount of AA and AF on each game. For all of the 3Dmark benchmarks I did two runs. One run was with the stock settings that the free version of the benchmark comes with and one was with 2 x AA @ 1680 x 1050.

For installation I have installed the cards as usual with the normal PCI-E power dongle (or not as required), checked that the card is seated correctly and powered on.

Note that the cards height was not an issue in my TJ09, although you may want to check the size specs as it is a little larger than a normal card @

I am using a clean install of Windows XP Professional SP2 with all the latest patches.

nVidia drivers used were 158.22

ATI drivers used were Catalysts 7.4's

Cards

XFX Fatal1ty 8600 GT Professional series Clock Speeds: 620. Memory Speeds: 1600 (800). Stream processor Clock: 1355MHz

XFX 8600 GTS "XXX" Edition Core Speed: 730. Memory Speeds: 2260 (1130). Stream Processor Clock: 1595MHz.

Foxconn 8600 GTS Core Speed: 675. Memory Speeds: 2000 (1000). Stream Processor Clock: 1450MHz

XFX 8600 GT "XXX" Edition Core Speed: 620. Memory Speeds: 1600 (800). Stream Processor Clock: 1355MHz


XFX Fatal1ty 8600 GT Professional Series Page: 4
Call of Duty 2

Call of Duty 2 is a fairly recent game that uses a lot of DirectX 9.0c features, including real time shadows, amazing smoke effects and some nice looking HDR effects. This makes the game very taxing at these high resolutions. I played a fully patched up version of the game. Once again I played through the game with a two minute gaming session including explosions, smoke and also lots of snow.

Note that for this review I played at 1280 x 1024 with 4 x AA, all other settings were on maximum.

Let's see how the cards fared here:

cod 2 benchmark

The XFX Fatal1ty 8600GT makes a great start here outperforming the other 8600GT by a small margin. This is surprising considering they are clocked the same.


F.E.A.R.

F.E.A.R. is a game based on an engine that uses many features of DirectX 9.0c. It has volumetric lighting, soft shadows, parallax mapping and particle effects, with a slow-motion mode that really taxes today's top of the line GPU's. I played a fully updated game with the latest patches installed. I played three two-minute runs on a taxing part of the game with plenty of action, using slow-motion for the full time whilst firing at enemy soldiers and using grenades that produce a cool "blast" contortion effect when blown up.

The cards were played at 1280 x 1024 with 4 x AA, 4 x FSAA and soft shadows disabled. All other settings were on maximum.

fear fps

Once again the XFX Fatal1ty 8600 GT does very well in the game benchmarks, scoring highly.

Oblivion

Oblivion is an awesome RPG with a simply huge immersive environment, great graphics and incredibly realistic scenery. This game is currently one of the most testing games that you can buy and it is certainly a test of the high-end cards here. I chose to do a run-through of the Arena part of the game. I spoke to a character, did some magic whilst in a fight and fought in the arena that is pretty huge. Also as well as doing this test I took a wander around to make sure that the benchmark resembled the general gameplay with each card. In-game settings used:

oblivion settings 1 oblivion settings 2

oblivion settings 3 oblivion settings 4

Oblivion was played at 1280 x 1024 with HDR enabled and no AA.

oblivion testing

Once again the 8600 Fatal1ty card fares well, edging out the "XXX" edition 8600 GT by a few FPS.

A pattern is emerging and I can only attribute this to the XFX 650i Ultra motherboard as it is the only difference in setups between the XFX "XXX" Edition 8600 GT and the XFX Fatal1ty 8600 GT Professional Series card.


XFX Fatal1ty 8600 GT Professional Series Page: 5
Quake 4

Quake 4 is a game built on the Doom 3 engine. This uses many DX 9.0c features and is a game that nVidia traditionally did well on being an OpenGL game. Once again I did three two minute runs on Quake 4 on each card and took the average of all my readings from these. I played a fast and furious part of the game that required both internal and external scenes.

Quake 4 was played at 1280 x 1024 with 2 x AA (Ultra settings)

quake 4 testing

Again the 8600 GT Fatal1ty edges out the plain "XXX" edition in the game tests.

Command & Conquer 3

C&C3 is the much awaited RTS from EA. Hugely popular and with some pretty nice visuals almost every modern PC should be able to play it. I tested a skirmish right at the end when I had a screen full of mechs to defeat the enemy.

C&C 3 was played at 1280 x 1024 with all maximum settings apart from the AA which was set to level 2 in-game.

command and conquer 3 testing

Command and Conquer 3 also shows quite a decent increase in performance from the XXX Edition card, edging an average 1.3 FPS ahead overall.

The game tests have shown that the XFX fatal1ty 8600 GT can play with the fastest cards out there in it's class. Now let's take a look at the artificial benchmarks...


XFX Fatal1ty 8600 GT Professional Series Page: 6
Benchmarking - 3DMark

I used the popular gaming benchmarks made by Futuremark to bench all of the cards. I used 3DMark 03, 05 and 06. All benches were performed at stock speeds for this section. I ran all benchmarks from the stock settings as well as 1680 x 1050 (2 x AA).

3DMark 03

First we start with 3DMark03. This is a benchmark that relies heavily on DirectX 8 features. This will give an indication of how a card will run on games that rely on DX 8.

3dmark03 testing

3DMark03 sees the 8600 GT Fatal1ty once again gain a nice lead on the 8600 GT "XXX" Edition.

3DMark05

I ran 3DMark05. This benchmark requires some more features of DirectX 9 and gets slightly more taxing on the cards.

3dmark05 testing

Again a marginal lead by the 8600 GT Fatal1ty Edition on the "XXX" Edition card.

3DMark06

3DMark06 is the latest in the benchmarking tests from Futuremark. It has a lot of DirectX 9.0c features such as HDR and use of Shader model 3.0. This benchmark is very taxing for the cards and also includes quite a harsh CPU benchmark. Seeing as this was run with the exact same CPU this was not an issue.

3dmark06 testing

Again I can only put the extra lead of the fatal1ty card on the "XXX" Edition card down to the different motherboards used in the reviews, or perhaps XFX have done a little tinkering under the hood of the 8600 GT, despite the Core, Memory and Shader clocks being the same.


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Overclocking

On the XFX Fatal1ty 8600 GT I used Rivatuner which seemed far more effective in Overclocking the card than the nTune panel was in the previous review.

As a loose comparison here are the overclocks:


 Stock
Clocks
Overclocked
Core Clock
Stock Memory
Clocks
Overlocked
Memory Clock
XFX 8600 GTS "XXX" Edition 730 7752260 2270
Foxconn 8600 GTS
675 7702000
2240
XFX 8600 GT "XXX" Edition 620 6701600
1900
XFX Fatal1ty 8600 GT
620 705 16001900


And here is a comparison of the %'age overclock.

XFX Fatal1ty 8600 GT overclock graph

Despite being on passive cooling the XFX Fatal1ty 8600 GT overclocked better than the standard XFX 8600 GT "XXX" Edition. This could be due to a lucky chip, or simply to a very good cooler.

Whichever way you look at it a 14% overclock on the core is a nice overclock.


XFX Fatal1ty 8600 GT Professional Series Page: 8
Conclusion

The XFX fatal1ty 8600 GT is a great performing card, just as it's brother the 8600 GT "XXX" Edition was. With a passive cooler, excellent "out of the box" overclocks and decent overclocking after the factory you can't complain.

Pricewise the XFX 8600 GT Fatal1ty Professional Series is only a few pounds above the "XXX" Edition and a little above the rest of the market at around £99 @ Komplett . I think the extra little bit of cash is worth it, although you could buy a stock clocked 8600 GT for less and fit an aftermarket cooler onto it.

Komplett

However if you're looking for good looks out of the box, a nice overclock and a very quiet (silent) card then look no further.

The XFX Fatal1ty 8600 GT get's a big OC3D thumbs up and an "HTPC Approved" Award.

Recommended Award HTPC approved

Pro's

+ Great silent cooler
+ Nice overclocks
+ Very fast card
+ Great looking

Con's

- Slightly more expensive than a stock 8600 GT
- Cooler is a little large
- Lack of decent bundle

Thanks to XFX for the review sample

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