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After spending most of my childhood years getting PCGAMER and other PC mags that came with demo disc that contained games I could never play because my computer only had a crappy on board graphics card, I knew that when I finally splashed out and bought a graphics card for my PC it had to be a bloody good one!
Well, many hours of surfing the internet looking for a decently priced powerful graphics card left me feeling like I didn't have a clue what I was doing and that every graphics card was inferior to the next and the ones that were the business were going to cost me an arm, two legs and an ear to get hold of.
I'm not too sure about you but the thought of paying upwards of £100 for a display adapter doesn't really make me feel to happy about parting with my cash when I know I can by a whole modern day console for around the same money that is going to work and play all the games I want with no problems (unless its an XBOX 360 that red rings! but that's another story).
Eventually, I managed to narrow my search down to a few cards in my price range, which was £50 or less. (Am I a cheapskate?)
Well, I managed to come across this, the BFG Geforce 8600 GTS OC edition.
According to many online review and stat tables, charts and comparisons, the 8600 seemed to be a decent entry level card for someone just wanting to be able to play 3d games.
I managed to find the card on Ebay for £35 with free P&P (Buy it now), so I snapped it up!
Personally I thought it was a bloody bargain, considering I had seen the same card elsewhere for £60 upwards.
When the card arrived I was extremely Excited, I opened the box and took out the card, gazed at the card in awe, span its little fan a few times then whipped open my PC, whack in the card, but then realised something was missing!
This card's fan is not powered by your computer's PCI-E slot, but requires an additional 4pin cable that connects to one of your PC's spare power cables (assuming you have one spare that is?)
WOW! I was annoyed. All that anticipation and I could not use the card! Well, actually, you can still use the card without the fan, but I wouldn't advise it as the card gets extremely hot without it and you may end up with a blue screen of death due to the card overheating and crashing your machine. Not only is this annoying, but can also seriously damage the card and render it useless.
So a few days pass and my extra cable arrives and I set up my card, boot up my pc, download the latest Nvidia drivers (which are simple and free to get from the Nvidia site - which is very up to date and simple to use with loads of good support for this card even though its kinda old now - infact they just released an update for the drivers this month which works great).
Amazing! The card works great!
It has a maximum resolution of 1280x1024 on my 17" flat screen monitor.
So what is the card capable of?
Well, I haven't come across a game that this card couldn't run on high settings at a decent speed!
I have: Crysis Mass Effect Dead Space DIRT Modern Warfare Bioshock 2
And this card can run all of them in high setting s with no problems at all!
Admittedly, Crysis frame rates dropped to about 15-17 frames per second, but that is still well playable. I play it on medium settings with 1024x768 resolution, which looks good to me, anti aliasing x2, shadows, reflections, the lot and the game is fast!
I think Bioshock 2 looks amazing on this card. The water looks so reflective and shiny it really stands out in the game.
Another thing I like about this card is that it is DX10 compatible so all of the newer Direct X 10 games that are out run sweet.
There are some newer more powerful cards than this that are only DX9 compatible, which is pants.
Oh yeah, as the name suggests (OC edition) this card is an over clocked version of the original 8600 as factory standard thanks to BFG.
What that means is the manufacturers have souped up the card so that it runs faster and can put out more power when compared to its 8600 GTS brothers.
I have had this card for coming up to 2 years and it has taken everything I have chucked at it and played any game I wanted without any problems.
I will say though, that the card does get extremely hot even with the fan running constantly and when I had my pc case open for a few weeks while I was testing and upgrading a few things like Hard drives etc, the card did over heat and crash and display some artefacts on the screen (green, purple).
At this point my heart jumped to m mouth as I thought my card was fried, but a turn off to cool down for 2 mins and a reboot proved that the 8600 GTS is truly a beast of a card as it was back up and going straight away running black ops and more!
I would recommend anyone thinking of getting this card or any other gaming card for that matter to invest in some additional cooling for your machine as these things get hot, and you don't want to end up like the XBOX 360!