PCB Design and Technical Characteristics
AMD/ATI and Nvidia follow a more liberal policy with respect to their mainstream solutions, like GeForce 8600 GTS, than to their top-end products. The latter are shipped to the GPU developers’ partners ready-made and the only thing the graphics card supplier can do is to experiment with the cooling system. With mainstream products, there is a much larger field for experiments. Unique PCBs can be developed, for example.
Although the MSI card is based on the etalon PCB design, the card itself differs from the original with its red solder mask, yellow DVI connectors, and a different marking. MSI either uses PCBs it makes itself or buys from an OEM. We suspect the card is made at MSI’s own production facilities.
The PCB carries a revision A2 G84-400 processor with full HDCP support. Our sample is dated the 9th week of 2007, i.e. late February or early March. The main graphics core frequency is 700MHz, not much higher than the reference frequency of 675MHz. The shader domain frequency was left intact at 1450MHz. The frequency gain is so small that you can’t expect great performance benefits, but the card is equipped with an advanced cooler and can theoretically do better if you try to overclock it further on your own. The GPU configuration is standard for a GeForce 8600 GTS: 32 universal shader processors capable of executing any type of shaders, 16 TMUs and 8 raster operators.
The G84’s external bus being 128 bits wide, the card has only four memory chips (Samsung K4J52324QE-BJ1А, 512Mbit, 16Mx32) that provide a total of 256 megabytes of graphics memory. The memory chips are rated for a frequency of 1000 (2000) MHz, but work at 1050 (2100) MHz on the MSI card. This results in a small growth of memory bandwidth, from 32GB/s to 33.6GB/s, which can hardly affect the card’s gaming performance much, but the good cooler allows to overclock the card more if you want.
The MSI NX8600GTS-T2D256E-HD-OC is identical to the reference card otherwise. Its main feature is not the red color of the PCB but the advanced cooler it is equipped with.