Nvidia launched its 8600 series of graphics cards in 2007. As of December 2009, the company offered three versions of the 8600GT graphics card. One uses DDR-2 memory, another uses GDDR-2, and the third uses GDDR-3.
Although DDR-2 (Double Data Rate-2) RAM’s intended purpose is to serve as a computer system’s memory, it has become common in recent years to outfit aging graphics chips with this type of RAM. This is because DDR-2 is still being produced in large quantities and is much cheaper than other types of RAM. These cards, however, are not ideal for 3D graphics.
GDDR-2 (Graphics Double Data Rate-2) RAM is more suited to video-card usage. Heat and error standards are relaxed, allowing for much higher-speed RAM. Additionally, it’s designed to have fewer processing delays than DDR-2 memory is capable of. An 8600GT with this kind of RAM, however, will not be as fast as a card using GDDR-3.
Nvidia’s original design for the 8600GT calls for this kind of RAM. In addition to being faster than GDDR-2, GDDR-3 also has the ability to be both read and wrote to in the same clock cycle. This means that if you compare two graphics cards, both with the same speed and with the same speed RAM, the one with GDDR-3 will perform up to twice as fast as the GDDR-2 card.
Consumers may see little reason to buy an 8600GT, considering that the 8800GT, a much faster card, has been on average within $50 of the price. In addition, the 8600GT has no AGP (Advanced Graphic Port) variant, and older PCI Express 1.0 motherboards will create a speed bottleneck when used with this card.
The 8600GT was quickly outclassed by faster cards that were near the same price range. If you are considering it as a replacement part for a 7600GT, however, it starts to look much better. It’s not a lot faster than the 7600GT, but it does have the advantage of being compatible with DirectX 10 graphics technology.
If you have a low-end circa 2006 computer and you want to jump up to DirectX 10 for a cost-effective price, this is a good card to buy. Buy the GDDR-3 version, however, for the best results.