Graphics-card big-shot nVidia finally made its mid-range 8500 and 8600 cards official. They’re both essentially as powerful as the top-end 8800, but nVidia limited the number of shaders. Or, in English, the cards aren’t as powerful as its top-level cards. Big surprise.
Prices aren’t too bad, however, with the 8600 GTS carries a $229 price tag and the 8500 dips all the way down to $89 when properly gimped. One important feature of these cards is nVidia’s PureVideo HD. If you’ve ever tried to watch high definition video on a PC—either via high-def discs or, you know, rips—you know that you need quite a powerful processor to run things smoothly. By offsetting the video processing to the GPU, your CPU won’t melt away.