Gainward Bliss 8600 GT PCX Golden Sample GLH Edition 256mb Page: 1
Gainward are one of Nvidia's most well respected Add In Board (AIB) manufacturers. With a long history of producing fast cards that overclock well, Gainward are a company who's hardware we always like to see in the lab.
Today we're taking a look at an 8600 GT with a twist. Gainward have placed an HDMI port on the back of this mid-low end card. This means that all those of you out there who are media-nuts and have HDMI equipped HD-TV's. Let's see how it all stacks up shall we?
The packaging on the Gainward 8600GT PCX is the usual Gainward fare with a rendered lass on the front and the "Golden Sample Goes Like Hell" sticker added to show that this SKU is one of gainwards flagship cherry picked Golden Sample chips.
gainward 8600 gt box  box rear
Inside the box wraps the card up well as we have come to expect from Gainward.
inside box
The usual good stuff from Gainward here then, let's look at the bundle.
The Package
Here's what you get with the Gainward Bliss 8600 GT:
* Quick Install Manual
* Driver CD
* Cyberlink DVD Solution
* VGA to Composite converter
* Dual Molex to PCI-e 6PIN power converter.
The package that you get with the Gainward 8600 GT PCX isn't bad, but it isn't fantastic either. Software wise you get a full edition of Cyberlink DVD Solution, which is great and fits in with the media theme. Hardware wise you get a dual molex to PCI-e 6PIn power and a VGA to Composite lead.
Taken from Gainward's website:
Product Name: Bliss 8600GT 256MB GS-GLH HDMI DVI
Barcode: 471846200-8903
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce 8600 GT
GPU Clockspeed: 625+
Memory: 256MB DDR3
Memory Clockspeed: 1800+
Pixels per clock (peak) : NA
Bandwidth: NA
Ramdac: 400MHz
Bus: PCI-Express
Cooling: 2-Slot Fan
Video-Features: Extreme HD-Output
Connectivity: DVI-I + VGA + HDMI
Key Features

» NVIDIA®unified architecture with Giga Thread™ technology
» Full Microsoft® DirectX10® Shedder Model 4.0 support
» HDMI interface
» 16x full screen anti aliasing
» True 128bit floating point high dynamic range (HDR) lightning
» NVIDIA® Quantum Effects™ physics processing technology
» Two Dual link DVI outputs support two 2560x1600 resolution displays
» NVIDIA® PureVideo™ HD Technology
» HDCP Capable » PCI Express® support
» OpenGL® support
» NVIDIA® ForceWare® Unified Driver Architecture (UDA)
» Built for Microsoft® Windows Vista™

Beyond Above,

Based on the award winning GeForce® 8600 GPU from NVIDIA® BLISS 8600GT from Gainward offers features of GeForce® 8-series architecture to an amazing value. With its onboard 256MB High-Speed DD3 modules which powers this speed monster called BLISS 8600GT Golden Sample, offering enhanced leading-edge performance for Windows Vista allowing you to take full advantage of Windows Vista features such as the Vista Aero graphical 3D interface, for smooth gaming with the future DirectX 10 games with HDMI interface.
Gainwards BLISS 8600GT offer unparalleled graphics realism and performance, unsurpassed Blue ray and HD DVD movie picture quality with PureVideo™ HD Technology and full support for Windows Vista and DirectX10.Provides HDMI Interface (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) Functionality up to 1080p or UXGA 1600x1200.
The two – slot bracket cooling solution used on the BLISS 8500GT models offer a higher air flow compared to a one – slot bracket solution and is therefore allowing a healthier environment for higher performance. Dust and Static electricity reduces the lifetime reduces the lifetime of a graphics card; the fan cover is used as an Anti –Dust and Anti – Static protector prolonging the lifetime of the card. The 80mm fan (70mm for non Golden Sample version) spinning at 2400rpm iscooling both the GPU and the memories with a noise level at 33,5dB compared to 35,2dB from the 4800rpm used on the NV 8600GTS reference boards; which is almost half the audible level in comparison.
Gainward´s Award Winning EXPERTool Tuning Utility for customized performance enhancements and efficient desktop management.
A nice looking spec for the card, so how does it look?

Gainward Bliss 8600 GT PCX Golden Sample GLH Edition 256mb Page: 2
The card - close up
The Gainward Bliss 8600 GT PCX Golden Sample "Goes Like Hell" Edition 256mb (catch your breath now) is a nice looking card with a rather attractive red heatsink and red PCB with black trimmings.
Something to note straight away is that this is a dual slot heatsink, which is a little surprising seeing as this card is aimed at media PC's and is designed with an HDMI output.
gainward 8600 gt card front  gainward 8600 gt rear
Certainly an unusual looking card, the small black aluminium heatsink sits below a mesh front. This card is certainly one for those who have a case window, it is very stylish.
8600 gt memory sink  8600 gt heatsink
As you can see, the heatsink is neatly covered by a black mesh. There are additional sinks for the memory and PWM's which is good to see as well.
 gainward 8600 gt power
Power comes from a single PCI-e 6PIN connecter in the usual place at the end of the cooler.
The standout feature of this card is the HDMI output available. Obviously the DVI and HDMI are equipped with HDCP as well, making this card an ideal compliment to a nice HDTV setup. Again we see that the card takes up a full two slots on the motherboard, which is a bit of a shame.
The Cooler
The cooler on the card is a pretty basic affair, but appears to do the job. Running at 48°C idle and 59°C load I expected it to be worse considering it's not the largest chunk of metal.
cooler fan  cooler warranty
The fan on the cooler runs very quiet even when ramped up so it is appropriate for a living room, although a passive cooler would obviously be a better choice. Of course, Gainward do make a passive 8600 GT as well.
cooelr off  cooler off
The cooler is very basic with a black painted aluminium affair but luckily the 8600 GT chip still manages to keep fairly cool.

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Test Setup
As you may be aware, Overclock3D has recently added to its benchmarking setup to make sure that we cover the increasing trend for Quad-core. With this in mind, our Test Setup is as follows:
Intel Core2Quad Q6600 @ 3.6GHz
Asus P5E3 DDR3 Motherboard
Kingston HyperX PC3-11000 CL7 DDR3 2gb Kit
OCZ GameXtream 850w
Hitachi 7K160 HDD
Samsung DVD-RW
Silverstone TJ09S Case
Noctua NH-U12P Cooler
Dell 2405FPW Display
Please note that we have set the overclock on the Q6600 to be able to keep our test setup fairly consistent as the speeds of CPU's increase in the near future. 
Benchmarks Used
Again, Overclock3D has revised it's benchmark setup to really test the new DX10 GPU's, while still including some old favourites in there:
games tested
Synthetic Benchmarks
Please note all Synthetic benchmarks were run at stock settings; just as the free ones would be, as well as 1920 x 1200, with 4 x AA added. All benchmarks are repeated three times for consistency.
FutureMark 3DMark03
FutureMark 3DMark05
FutureMark 3DMark06
Gaming Benchmarks
All gaming benchmarks are run through at a demanding stage of the game with no savepoints to affect FPS. These are manual run-though's approximating 3 minutes and all gaming benchmarks are run three times through the same points for consistency. We hope that this gives an accurate and interesting depiction of "real-life" gaming situations. Note the resolutions and AA each game was run at.
All gaming tests were performed in Windows Vista Ultimate, under DX10 if available.
Call of Duty 4 - 1368 x 768 2 x AA
Oblivion - 1368 x 768 2 x AA
F.E.A.R. - 1368 x 768 2 x AA
Bioshock - 1368 x 768 maxx settings in game
Unreal Tournament 3 - 1368 x 768 max settings in game
Company of Heroes - DirectX10 patch. 1368 x 768 
Crysis - 1368 x 768, all in-game settings set to "medium"
Again, all game run-through's are repeated three times for consistency and accuracy.
We hope that this represents a good band of games and benchmarks for people wanting a performance overview of gaming at this current time.
Note that for the review of this card I have set the target resolution to 1368 x 769. This is representing 720p, which would be an ideal resolution for most HDTV's.
Cards Tested
The Gainward Bliss looks like this when we see basic specs:
Gainward 8600 GT Bliss PCX. GPU: 625MHz. Memory: 900MHz (1600MHz). Stream processor clock: 1440MHz.
Unfortunately we do not have a huge choice of lower-end cards in the labs at the moment, so I am benchmarking the Gainward 8600 GT by getting the best looking settings I can at the chosen resolution. Synthetic benchmarks will be compared to the following card:
Powercolor HD3850. GPU: 720Mhz. Memory: 900MHz (1800MHz). Stream processor clock: 690Mhz.

Drivers used were the most up to date as of the time of posting.
Nvidia: 169.25 Forceware
ATI: ATI Catalyst 8.1

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FutureMark 3DMark03

3DMark03 is a benchmark that uses mainly a DirectX 8 featureset including several pixel fillrate tests. I included this test in the review to see an approximation of how well old games will play on the current gen cards, as well as how well each card copes with the fillrate tests.
The lower end Gainward card shows its lower performance  in the older test.
FutureMark 3DMark05

3DMark05 is a benchmark based on DirectX 9 with more advanced shading and bump-mapping techniques, as well as a tough CPU test integrated.
Again the lower specced 8600 GT comes off badly in the slightly more up to date 3DMark05.
FutureMark - 3DMark06

3DMark06 is a more complex 3D benchmark, using many of the more advanced techniques found in DirectX 9.0c such as utilising Shader Model 3.0 and HDR lighting to create a tough benchmark that stresses the GPU and CPU.
The Gainward Bliss 8600 GT PCX shows that the newer architecture of the HD3850 does very well in the 3DMark tests, whereas the older 8600 series architecture does not do too well here.

Gainward Bliss 8600 GT PCX Golden Sample GLH Edition 256mb Page: 5
Call of Duty 4

Call of Duty 4 is a stunning DirectX 9.0c based game that really looks awesome and has a very full featureset. With lots of advanced lighting, smoke and water effects, the game has excellent explosions and is fast and furious, perfect for our test suite.
cod 4
Aiming for 1368 x 768 with 2 x AA, Call of Duty 4 gets a decent amount of FPS and is very playable.

F.E.A.R. is a game based on the Lithtech Jupiter EX engine. It has volumetric lighting, soft shadows, parallax mapping and particle effects. This is a fairly old game but was a very testing one at the time of release and still looks fantastic, so we've kept it in.
Again at 1368 x 768 with 2 x AA and 2 x FSAA, the gainward 8600 GT PCX produces excellent smooth FPS and is a pleasant experience to play with decent detail.

Bioshock is a game based on the Unreal Engine 3. It uses some DirectX10 features such as awesome water and smoke effects. The detail level in the game, combined with a frantic pace makes for an excellent benchmark.
The Unreal Engine 3 is also very playable at this resolution, although I was a little disappointed as the UE3 engine tends to be very scalable generally.

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Oblivion is a game that really taxed all of the cards at the time of it's release. Well over a year on and the current generation of cards simply fly through it. However, with advanced HDR, excellent draw distances, detailed grass and scenery as well as fantastic water/magic effects it's a good game to gauge performance for those who love RPG's.
Oblivion performance was surprisingly good, although remember that there was no AA added to the scene, which we can do with almost all of the other cards.
Company of Heroes

Company of Heroes is a WWII-based RTS game that has an enormous amount of world detail. I played a DirectX patched version of the game that gives modern GPU's a bit of a workout.
Company of Heroes
Company of Heroes was a little laggy with 2 x AA added and all in-game settings set to high. Medium was not a particularly nice experience, so high was set.

Gainward Bliss 8600 GT PCX Golden Sample GLH Edition 256mb Page: 7
Unreal Tournament 3

I have included UT3, even though it is another UE3 game as it is a fast, frantic and furious multiplayer mash-up experience. Using advanced DirectX 9.0c features, the Unreal Engine looks fantastic and runs on almost all half-decent modern GPU's making it an ideal all-round test.
Unreal Tournament 3
UT3 again showed a playable level at 1368 x 768 with no in-game lag at all.

Crysis has to be our most challenging benchmark to date. Running under Windows Vista and using DirectX 10 path, Crysis was played at 1368 x 768 on "Medium" settings for this not so fast card.
Crysis on medium settings at 1368 x 768 was laggy at the points where combat came into the game. As this is the most advanced game in our tests this is slightly disappointing.

Gainward Bliss 8600 GT PCX Golden Sample GLH Edition 256mb Page: 8

Overclocking was performed using Nvidia's drivers and the nTune plugin. No hard or soft mods were performed on the cards and overclocking in this way is meant to represent an "easy overclock", giving value for money on each card without making too much effort.
The Gainward 8600 GT PCX Golden sample should produce some decent results here:
The Gainward 8600 GT PCX Golden Sample lived up to its name. With a fantastic overclock of 131MHz on the core to 756MHz and 230MHz on the memory to 1130Mhz this should go some way to making up for the poor initial 3DMark performance.
3DMark06 overclocked
I ran a test run of 3DMark06 to see how this overclock would affect the cards performance.
3dmark06 overclocked
A nice large improvement of around 1000 3Dmarks gives the card a little more value for money.

Gainward Bliss 8600 GT PCX Golden Sample GLH Edition 256mb Page: 9
The Gainward Bliss 8600 GT Golden Sample Goes Like Hell Edition is a decent performing 8600 GT with a nice set of outputs including HDMI and a decent heatsink that looks fantastic.
The trouble for the 8600 series is that ATI brought out the HD3850 which trounced Nvidia's lineup in that price bracket. The HD3850, however, is a little more money and generally comes in at over £100, whereas you should be able to pick up the Gainward 8600 GT PCX at a decent £80.48 at SCAN. Komplett, one of our recommended retailers has the SilentFX version at £70, albeit at a lot lower clock speeds.

It's unfortunate that the HD3850 is so close in price to the 8600 GT as this newer card really shows up the Nvidia mid range.
oc3d reviewed 
The Good
+ Excellent cooler
+ HDMI connecter with HDCP
+ Decent price
+ Awesome overclocking
+ Excellent output choice
The Mediocre
* Good performance at 1368 x 768
The Bad
- Performance not up to par with other cards close in price
Thanks to Gainward for the test sample
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