We like passive cards, and we're always keen to try out the silent stuff; and this time around Club3D let us have a go at a passive 8600GT card. Club3D's Geforce 8600GT Passive Heatpipe features a dual heatpipe passive cooler, which looks like a scaled down Arctic Cooling Accelero. We didn't ask Club3D if the cooler is actually made by Arctic Cooling, but you can see the family resemblance, and this is a good thing, since we've already seen the Accelero coolers in action and know that they work well.
The heatsink is rather massive, and it's longer than the PCB. In spite of that, this shouldn't be an issue, since the Geforce 8600GT PCB is relatively short. The other good thing is that the aluminum fins aren't placed too close to the PCIe connector, so about a quarter of the card is left naked, which means that you won't have any trouble with chipset heatsinks. As you can see, the fins are nowhere near the motherboard.
The only down side of a passive cooler is the fact that it uses up two slots, but this is the norm for almost all passive cards. It would be a good idea to take out the bracket on the slot adjacent to the card, since it could help improve airflow.
The two copper heatpipes pass through 21 aluminum fins and help dissipate the heat from the copper base. It's a simple, yet effective concept, but you will need good case airflow to keep the temperature down. Otherwise, the hot air just stays around the card, and with time, the temperature rises significantly.
The other side of the cooler clearly shows the copper base and the heatpipes. The mounting is made of aluminum, as are the fins, so the cooler is relatively light in spite of its massive dimensions.
The core temperatures are low, the cooler is efficient and it can even cope witha a slight OC.
The Nvidia G84 GPU is clocked at a reference 540MHz, while the shaders run at 1188MHz. Thanks to the low stock clock and good cooling, you can take the clock up a notch. With 32 Stream Processors and 16 Texture Filtering and Addressing units, the Geforce 8600GT is up to the challenge, at least until you push the resolution up or activate AA and AF.
The 128 bit memory bus is the bottleneck, not just on this card, but on all Nvidia Geforce 8600 and ATI HD2600 cards. At least it helps keep the price low.
The Club3D Geforce 8600 GT Passive Heatpipe is equipped with 512MB of memory. Unfortunately, it uses GDDR2 memory, which means that you can't expect high clocks. Club3D used Samsung's K4N51163QE-ZC20, rated at 2.0 ns, or 500MHz. 512MB should be enough for anyone. Recently, we tested Gainward's 8600GT with 1024MB of GDDR2 memory, and in most cases the extra 512MB were not very useful.
There are a total of eight memory chips on the card with 64MB each. The memory isn't cooled, but with a 1000MHz clock there's really no need for heatsinks.
On the I/O side we see one VGA, one dual link DVI and one S-video connector. HDTV is also supported, and the card is HDCP compatible.
The elegant black box is typical of Club3D. Inside you'll find the card itself, an driver CD, HDTV cable and one DVI to VGA dongle.
No games are included, and there's no HDMI dongle, but even if Club3D included one, you would get no sound on it. In case you're interested in multimedia capabilities, you might want to consider one of Club3D's ATI HD series cards. We reviewed the Club3D HD2600PRO here, and the HD2600XT GDDR4 review is coming soon.