The results obtained in 3DMark06 correspond better to the actual situation with the new GeForce 8600 GTS, so we are not talking about any possible rivalry with Radeon X1900 XT here. Almost 5300 points is a pretty good achievement for relatively inexpensive mainstream graphics card. However, let’s take a closer look at slightly harder working conditions before we make any final conclusions.
In 1280x1024 GeForce 8600 GTS is powerful enough to compete with Radeon X1900 XT in SM2.0 tests and with Radeon X1950 Pro in SM3.0/HDR tests. In the latter case Radeon X1900 XT with 48 pixel processors each featuring 4 ALUs and working at a little over 600MHz frequency has simply no rivals whatsoever. Now let’s make it more interesting by enabling FSAA 4x. Note that we didn’t use any resolutions above 1280x1024 in individual tests because the mainstream graphics cards didn’t run fast enough there. With the performance rate of less than 10fps, the measuring error increases, which makes it very hard to perform fair comparison.
At least enabled anti-aliasing in the first test didn’t drop the performance of GeForce 8600 GTS – the new Nvidia solution is still competing successfully against GeForce 7950 GT and is just a little slower than Radeon X1900 XT with 16 TMUs and ROP. However, the second tests revealed the same drawbacks as the Game 2 test in 3DMark05, although unlike the latter, GeForce 8600 GTS loses even to Radeon X1950 Pro here.
In SM3.0/HDR tests the drawbacks of GeForce 8600 GTS become evident: the card cannot compete even with Radeon X1950 Pro. Nvidia’s solution has only 32 shader processors at its disposal (although they work at higher frequency), and the AMD adapter boasts 36 dedicated pixel processors each featuring 2 scalar and 2 vector ALUs and 8 dedicated vertex processors with 2 vector ALUs each. Moreover, it doesn’t have to deal with dynamic workload distribution between the processors. From this prospective the defeat GeForce 8600 GTS suffers from Radeon X1950 Pro in the first test of this suite is quite illustrative.
The newcomer’s results in another SM3.0/HDR tests are also not that high. GeForce 8600 GTS doesn’t support single-component texture sampling acceleration, which is an advantage for AMD during the processing of dynamic shadows created with shadow maps. It is not quite clear why 32 unified shader processors perform not so well despite their huge peak power as a result of 1.45GHz frequency. The logical explanation here could be the buggy drivers, however it is really hard to suspect ATI or Nvidia in being unable to finalize the drivers for 3DMark, which is the most popular GPU tests in the industry these days.