Biostar is one of the few manufacturers to make a GeForce 8600 GTS card that comes with 512 MB of GDDR3 memory - the NVIDIA reference design uses 256 MB. Biostar has made themselves a name among overclockers when they released the V-Ranger Series of video cards that allows extensive tweaking of core and memory voltage on GeForce cards. The card we test here does not have the V-Range feature.
Other than increasing the memory size, Biostar has also performed some minor adjustments to the PCB, mainly to reduce the price of the board, without compromising quality. The NVIDIA stock cooler has also been exchanged for a Biostar solution.
HD 2400 Pro
HD 2400 XT
HD 2600 XT
|Memory Bus Width
NVIDIA® Unified Architecture
- Unified shader architecture
- GigaThread™ technology
- Full support for Microsoft® DirectX® 10
- Geometry shaders
- Geometry instancing
- Streamed output
- Shader Model 4.0
- Full 128-bit floating point precision through the entire rendering pipeline
NVIDIA Lumenex™ Engine
- 16x full screen anti-aliasing
- Transparent multisampling and transparent supersampling
- 16x angle independent anisotropic filtering
- 128-bit floating point high dynamic-range (HDR) lighting with anti-aliasing
- 32-bit per component floating point texture filtering and blending
- Advanced lossless compression algorithms for color, texture, and z-data
- Support for normal map compression
NVIDIA Quantum Effects™ Technology
- Advanced shader processors architected for physics computation
- Simulate and render physics effects on the graphics processor
NVIDIA SLI™ Technology
- Patented hardware and software technology allows two GeForce-based graphics cards to run in parallel to scale performance and enhance image quality on today's top titles.
NVIDIA PureVideo™ HD Technology2
- Dedicated on-chip video processor
- High-definition H.264, VC-1, MPEG2 and WMV9 decode acceleration
- Advanced spatial-temporal de-interlacing
- HDCP capable3
- Spatial-Temporal De-Interlacing
- Noise Reduction
- Edge Enhancement
- Bad Edit Correction
- Inverse telecine (2:2 and 3:2 pull-down correction)
- High-quality scaling
- Video color correction
- Microsoft® Video Mixing Renderer (VMR) support
Advanced Display Functionality
- Two dual-link DVI outputs for digital flat panel display resolutions up to 2560x1600
- One dual-link DVI outputs for digital flat panel display resolutions up to 2560x16004
- Dual integrated 400MHz RAMDACs for analog display resolutions up to and including 2048x1536 at 85Hz
- Integrated HDTV encoder provides analog TV-output (Component/Composite/S-Video) up to 1080i resolution
- NVIDIA nView® multi-display technology capability
- 10-bit display processing
Built for Microsoft® Windows Vista™
- Full DirectX 10 support
- Dedicated graphics processor powers the new Windows Vista Aero 3D user interface
- VMR-based video architecture
High Speed Interfaces
- Designed for PCI Express® x16
- Designed for high-speed GDDR3 and DDR2 memory
- Built for Microsoft Windows Vista
- Windows XP/Windows XP 64
- Complete DirectX support, including Microsoft DirectX 10 Shader Model 4.0
- Full OpenGL® support, including OpenGL 2.0
Packaging & Contents
As always, Biostar's box uses a hot anime girl to catch your attention, works for me. The back lists features like Vista support and HD video playback acceleration. You also find a basic chart here that suggests "which graphics processor is right for you" with a list of cards ranging from GeForce 7100 to GeForce 8800.
You will receive:
- Graphics card
- Instruction Manual + Driver CD
- DVI Adapter
- TV Out cable
- PCI-E power adapter
Instead of the blueish NVIDIA reference PCB, Biostar uses a regular green board. Unfortunately the new cooler design is a bit taller than the NVIDIA cooler, which means that you need two slots for this VGA card.
On the back you find the usual warranty stickers and product information labels and four of the memory chips.
Having two DVI outputs is standard nowadays for a midrange card. Should you need to use the card with an older CRT, you can use the included DVI to VGA dongle.
A Closer Look
The cooler is made from aluminum, it is a design exclusive to Biostar and works quite well. It is not loud and easily blends in with other fans in your system.
The cooler is mounted with four screws that stand out a bit on the back of the card, if you have very little space around the card this might be a tight fit.
SLI is possible by combining this card with any other 8600 GTS card from any manufacturer. When using the V8603TS51 512 MB card with a 256 MB card it will be downgraded to use only 256 MB when in SLI.
The card comes with one six pin PCI-E power connector. Unlike the cards from ATI, the card will work without external power connected, even in 3D. If for some reason the card senses that it may run out of power, the NVIDIA driver will tell you that you should connect the external power and that 3D performance has been reduced to avoid overloading the bus power supply.
Four GDDR3 memory chips are installed on each side of the card.
The GDDR3 memory chips are made by Samsung and carry the model number K4J52324QE-BJ1A with an access speed of 1.0 ns, which means they should be good for 1000 MHz at least.
The GPU is the NVIDIA G84 Revision A2.
||Intel Core 2 Duo E6550 2.33 GHz
(Conroe, 2x 1024 KB Cache)
||2x 1024MB A.DATA DDR2 1066+ CL4
||WD Raptor 740ADFD 74 GB
||OCZ GameXStream 700W
||Windows XP SP2
ATI: Catalyst 7.7
- All video card results were obtained on this exact system with the exact same configuration.
- All games were set to their highest quality setting
Each benchmark was tested at the following settings and resolution:
- 1024 x 768, No Anti-aliasing, No anisotropic filtering. This is a standard resolution without demanding display settings.
- 1280 x 1024, 2x Anti-aliasing, 8x anisotropic filtering. Common resolution for most gamer flatscreens today. A bit of eye candy turned on in the drivers.
- 1600 x 1200, 4x Anti-aliasing, 16x anisotropic filter. Highest non-widescreen resolution available to a wide range of users. Very good looking driver graphics settings.
- 2048 x 1536, 4x Anti-aliasing, 16x anisotropic filter. Highest non-widescreen resolution available to any consumer video card. Very good looking driver graphics settings.
Company Of Heroes
The real-time strategy game Company of Heroes
is set during World War II where you take two american companies through several fights all over France to liberate the country from German occupation. Company of Heroes is the first game to use Relic's next-generation engine "Essence Engine" which includes support for HDR lighting, Shader Model 3.0, normal mapping, dynamic lighting and shadows. You are able to zoom in from the tactical view of the battle field to see the individual units fighting. Often you catch yourself admiring the detailed animations of the soldiers while the fight around you is raging. We tested the DX9 version of the game at maximum details.
was released in early 2004 by the new development studio Crytek. It quickly became a massive success because it was one of the first titles to take you in a beautiful 3D outdoor world. Far Cry was one of the most demanding games at its time. Even with today's video cards you can still see big differences in frame rates, especially at the higher resolutions.
The first person shooter F.E.A.R
, developed by Monolith Game Studios, was released in Fall 2005 and has a great 3D engine that uses a large number of shading and shadow effects to accurately model the game world. In addition to that it features a realistic physics engine that lets you interact with many objects in the game world. The game was voted game of the year by several publications.
is based on a highly modified 3D engine made by id Software. This first person shooter brought a completely new way of gaming to the genre. In many levels you find yourself walking upside down or on the walls. This adds a completely new aspect to the gaming experience in this genre.
The Quake titles are among the most successful first person games. Developed by id Software, the famous game studio that brought you DOOM, you find yourself in a scifi world that is full of aliens and shocking effects. The main focus of the game is the single player story line. Quake 4
puts you on the home planet of the Strogg. In a number of missions you and your fellow marines will encounter all sorts of enemies, including some really huge aliens.
Splinter Cell 3: Chaos Theory
The Splinter Cell Series is endorsed by popular book author Tom Clancy. In the 2005 title Splinter Cell 3: Chaos Theory
you play the NSA agent Sam Fisher who has to use stealth and finesse to make his way through a number of levels mainly set in eastern asia. The game is based on a modified Unreal 2 engine with support for HDR, normal mapping, parallax mapping and soft shadows. A patch added Shader Model 2.0 support for ATI in addition to the Shader Model 3.0 support which was already part of the original shipping game.
Before its release in 2007, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl
was one of the most hyped games of the last years. This RPG/FPS hybrid game is set a few years in the future, after a nuclear disaster occurs at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. The release of radiation causes strange things like mutations in the nearby area. You take the role of a Stalker who seeks fame and riches in the contaminated area around Chernobyl. The game engine features all the latest buzzwords like HDR, bullet physics, skeletal animation, soft shadows and weather effects. Stalker's vast outside world is richly modelled, you can interact with a large number of objects in the game thanks to the physics engine.
If you hear people talk about a real-time strategy game with "massive numbers of units fighting" you can be sure they are talking about Supreme Commander
. The unofficial successor to the Total Annihilation Series completely redefined some aspects of the RTS genre. In Supreme Commander you can zoom out so far that you can see the whole map on your screen and units are just little blips. This is much needed in fights when several hundred units go at each other. Supreme Commander is also one of the most demanding RTS games with support for up to four CPU cores - a dual-core system with high-end graphics is recommended for optimum game play.
is a space combat/trading simulation game with beautiful graphics. The game world is gigantic and there is always something new to see. Even though the user interface is not that great, the title has found many fans that love to explore the rich content. When you are flying in your spaceship you are sometimes tempted to just stop the action to take a look at the highly detailed ships and planets.
is the number one player in the world of synthetic benchmarking. The 3DMark series is the most popular test suite for video card testing and is used by gamers, overclockers and manufacturers alike to determine how fast their hardware is. Even though it is a few years old, 3DMark03 can easily stress today's video cards.
Another benchmark from Futuremark
is 3DMark05 which comes with four completely new game tests that make massive use of shaders and lighting effects. 3DMark05 is a great test for modern video card architectures - in some tests you are often close to the 30 fps mark, below which your games will feel sluggish.
Even though it's based on Futuremark's 3DMark05, the new 3DMark06 adds new tests for Shader Model 3.0 and HDR rendering. It is also the first 3DMark to incorporate a CPU score into the final 3DMark score. All tests have received an overhaul, for example in the Canyon Flight test you can now see beautiful sun glare effects with the help of High Dynamic Range rendering.
We used ATITool to search for the maximum core and memory clocks, we then verified that the clocks were stable by running our benchmarking suite and looking for visual errors or crashes.
The final overclocks of our card are 713 MHz Core (6 % overclock) and 1021 MHz Memory (2 % overclock). It seems that we were a bit unlucky with the sample we received, other cards will probably overclock higher, especially if you consider that the GPU temperature barely rose during overclocking.
The stock cooler does a good job at keeping that card at acceptable temperatures. Even with the little overclocking that was possible the temperatures barely rise.
Value and Conclusion
- You can find the Biostar 8600 GTS 512 MB GDDR3 online for about 215 USD, which is a price premium of about $50 over a 256 MB 8600 GTS.
- 512 MB GDDR3 Memory
- DirectX 10 + Shader Model 4.0 Support
- HD Video decoding capabilities
- SLI capable
- Limited overclocking
- High price
- Dual Slot cooling solution
Biostar is the first manufacturer to release a GeForce 8600 GTS card that comes with 512 MB memory instead of 256 MB. Since fast 1.0ns GDDR3 memory is expensive (about $35 for 256 MB if you buy a ton of chips) this card is quite a bit more expensive than the 256 MB variants.
Our tests are not fully conclusive, while we see zero improvement in some benchmarks, we could also see up to 15% improvement in others. This could be a driver limitation as well, since NVIDIA may have optimized their driver to work best with 256 MB of video memory. The overall performance gain is definitely smaller than 10% - whether this is enough for you to spend $50 more is up to you. While overclocking performance of our sample was rather slim, it seems that we got an unlucky sample.
If you are looking to increase your performance easily at a later point you can pair the Biostar 8600 GTS with any other 8600 GTS and run it in SLI. If you are not afraid of overclocking and want to save some money you should take a look at Biostar's 8600 GTS V-Ranger 256 MB which is the only card on the market that allows changing of GPU and Memory Voltage for massive overclocking.