First look at the newcomer gives us to understand that its design is considerably simpler and more compact than that of the GeForce 8800 based solutions. The GeForce 8600 GTS PCB is slightly longer than GeForce 7600 GT and is close to GeForce 7900 GT/GS/7950 GT: a little less than 20cm. This relatively small size will allow to install it easily into compact system cases, especially since the reference cooling system is a single-clot solution. The GeForce 8600 GTS sample we had at our disposal is based on traditional green PCB.
The card boasts very modest looks, especially if you compare it to the monstrous GeForce 8800 GTX. Nevertheless, it features an additional power supply connector: high GPU and memory working frequencies of the GeForce 8600 GTS wouldn’t let it use only the PCI Express slot capacity.
The voltage regulator circuitry is pretty simple and doesn’t contain too many power components and electrolytic capacitors. The control elements are all on the reverse side of the PCB. The card definitely boasts relatively low level of power consumption, because none of the voltage regulator components are equipped with additional cooling: there are even no passive heatsinks on these elements, and some of them are not laid out at all.
Thanks to the 128-bit memory bus, the PCB layout is very simple and hence low-cost. From this standpoint expensive GeForce 8800GTX/GTS cannot compete with the newcomer. In fact, the biggest part of the PCB front is taken by the screen, except the lines connecting the memory chips with the graphics core. There are four GDDR3 memory chips on the PCB, 512Mbit each. In our case these are Samsung K4J52324QE-BJ1А with 900 (1800) MHz nominal frequency. The actual frequency they run at equals 1000 (2000) MHz. The memory working frequency together with 128-bit access produce pretty modest bandwidth of only 32GB/s, however there might appear graphics card modifications using faster GDDR4 memory with up to 512MB total capacity, which will require 1Gbit chips. Anyway, we shouldn’t expect GeForce 8600 GTS to work performance wonders in high resolution with enabled FSAA.
G84 chip that contains fewer transistors than G80 is logically smaller in size and its packaging has no protective framing, because it is small and doesn’t require massive cooling solution. The chip revision is 400-A2 and it supports HDCP. The chip was manufactured on sixth week of 2007. The graphics core contains 32 unified shader processors, 16 TMU and 8 raster operation processors (ROP). Just like GeForce 8800GTX/GTS, GeForce 8600 GTS uses discrete GPU clocking algorithm with different main domain and shader domain frequencies. The main G84 domain in the top model of the family works at 675MHz, and the shader processor domain – at 1450MHz.
Asus EN8600 GTS is equipped with standard set of connectors and features two DVI-I ports supporting dual-link and HDCP, universal S-Video/RCA/YPbPr video Out connector and the MIO interface pins for the SLI configurations. We suspect there will also be GeForce 8600 GTS solutions with VIVO feature, because there is an empty spot on the reverse side of the graphics card PCB, which is most likely planned to host a video decoder chip later on.