XFX GeForce 8600 GT 620M XXX Edition

Written by Tim Smalley

August 23, 2007 | 10:30

Tags: #8600 #article #crypto #directx10 #dx10 #edition #evaluation #g84 #geforce #gt #hdcp #opinion #overclocking #performance #review #xxx

Companies: #nvidia #test #xfx

Bundle:

Inside the box, XFX includes a fairly typical bundle for a mid-range card – a middle of the road price usually signifies a middle of the road bundle and that’s what you get here. There is the one DVI-to-VGA converter and an S-Video cable – that’s it on the cables/connectors front.

Additionally, there’s a quick install guide and a driver CD (pictured). Another addition that was recently announced was the inclusion of Company of Heroes with GeForce 8600 GT XXX and GeForce 8600 GT Fatal1ty Edition cards for a limited time.

For those that missed out on Company of Heroes last year, it was our favourite Real-Time Strategy game of the year; more recently, it got given a bit of DirectX 10 treatment too. While the DirectX 10 additions weren’t that great, it’s nevertheless a game that you should really spend some time playing when you’re not playing BioShock.

XFX GeForce 8600 GT 620M XXX Edition Bundle, Warranty & HDCP put to rest? XFX GeForce 8600 GT 620M XXX Edition Bundle, Warranty & HDCP put to rest?
Click to enlarge

Warranty:

XFX's video cards have differing warranties depending on the region you buy your video card in. In the UK and mainland Europe, XFX operates a standard limited two year warranty service covering the repair or replacement of the product – this is similar to what most other board partners offer in their own products.

However, it is still unclear why the company gives preference to its US customers, who get a “double lifetime warranty”. We’d like to see the company offer something up there with the likes of BFGTech and EVGA in Europe, but some would argue that two years is a fairly reasonable life expectancy for a graphics card; especially given the rate at which technology progresses these days.

A word on HDCP...

One thing we haven't touched on yet is the card's display output selection and that's because it was a little bit more complex than we'd hoped for this particular review. The port cluster includes two lime green dual-link DVI ports and a TV-out DIN connector. The colour scheme is rounded off exquisitely with a black PCI bracket – this is something that we’ve been a fan of since the first time we saw the combination of colours used on the company’s passively-cooled GeForce 7950 GT Extreme.

If you've paid careful attention to the box shots, you'll see that it mentions "HDCP Capable" on the back. However, when we tested the card's HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc playback capabilities, we were greeted with problems because the software couldn't enable HDCP. It turns out that this particular version of the GeForce 8600 GT XXX Edition doesn’t come complete with an HDCP crypto-ROM, despite what the box states.

We contacted XFX about this, and a representative from the company told us that because of the nature of our sample (read: it was quite an early one at the time), the card was unfortunately shipped to us inside the wrong packaging – something that we’ve seen happen in the past, especially when dealing with early samples.

In addition to that, the XFX representative told us that the company will offer an exchange if a customer feels the product they’ve purchased is misrepresented, something that's very commendable indeed. However, XFX is confident that this will not happen, as it says that its records show that the correct packaging has been used on products shipped to the channel.

XFX GeForce 8600 GT 620M XXX Edition Bundle, Warranty & HDCP put to rest? XFX GeForce 8600 GT 620M XXX Edition Bundle, Warranty & HDCP put to rest?
Click to enlarge

This leads us onto that dreaded topic of HDCP support across Nvidia's GeForce 8-series cards, which we’ve been researching some more since our last GeForce 8600 GT review.

By now, most of you will know that Nvidia opted not to make HDCP a compulsory feature on the mid-range and entry-level GeForce 8-series cards when they launched in April. This was especially strange when you consider that one of the big driving forces behind the mid-range GeForce 8-series was G84’s 100 percent CPU offload of the H.264 decode (that results in minimal CPU usage during what is typically a very CPU-intensive process), but the problem here is that virtually every H.264 movie that would benefit from the offload is protected by HDCP.

As stated above, XFX’s GeForce 8600 GT XXX Edition currently ships without the HDCP crypto-ROM, but that is subject to change in the future because of Nvidia's change of plan on the HDCP front that came into effect around six to eight weeks ago. We’ve been in discussions with both Nvidia and XFX to get the full story on what is happening.

During these discussions, the change of stance on HDCP compliance was reaffirmed by Nvidia and company representatives pointed out that GeForce 8600 GT and GeForce 8500 GT cards would eventually be added to the “fully HDCP compliant” list. Nvidia has achieved this by simply supplying its partners with a crypto-ROM chip for every GeForce 8600 GT and GeForce 8500 GT GPU ordered.

According to Nvidia, this initiative is in the process of being rolled out into the channel but you’re not likely to see much of a change in the channel for at least a few weeks though – it’ll filter through all partners over time. Ideally, we wanted this to happen when the cards actually launched, but I guess it's the second best outcome for the situation (the best would be the situation never occurring in the first place) and it’s good that we can finally put this topic to rest.
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