In this article we are specifically focusing upon the Linux gaming performance of the NVIDIA GeForce 8500GT 256MB and comparing it to the NVIDIA GeForce 7800GTX 256MB as well as to the GeForce 6600GT 128MB. On the ATI side, we have the Radeon X1950PRO 256MB, which is one of the fastest cards currently available in the R500 series. With all NVIDIA cards tested we had used the NVIDIA 100.14.03 driver and on the ATI side was the AMD fglrx 8.36.5 driver.
The benchmarks used were Doom 3, Quake 4, and Unreal Tournament 2004. The Linux distribution used was Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn with the Linux 2.6.20 kernel and X.Org 7.2.0. Outside of the different graphics cards, the hardware used was dual Intel Xeon E5320 "Clovertown" Quad-Core processors, 4GB of Kingston DDR2-533 FB-DIMM RAM, Tyan's Tempest i5000XT motherboard, Seagate 7200.10 320GB 16MB cache Perpendicular Recording SATA 2.0 hard drive, and the SilverStone Olympia OP650 power supply.
For our testing we had run the Gigabyte NVIDIA GeForce 8500GT at its default speed of 500/800MHz (GPU/MEM), NVIDIA's 8500GT reference specification of 450/800MHz, as well as its maximum clock frequency when overclocking with CoolBits. When overclocking using CoolBits we had run the fanless Gigabyte GV-NX85T256H at 550/900MHz. This overclock was 50MHz beyond Gigabyte's factory overclock and 100MHz above NVIDIA's reference specifications for the G86 core. The DDR2 memory frequency had also increased 100MHz above its specification. Both the memory and GPU could have been pushed further, but with Gigabyte's passive heatsink we began running into some stability issues when pushing the card much beyond that point. At these speeds we had also mounted a 120mm fan near the graphics card as otherwise the reported GPU die temperature would hover above 70°C. When running at its default speeds, the reported GPU temperature would idle around 50°C. One bug to note is that with the 100.14.03 display drivers from NVIDIA the card was detected as a 512MB 8500GT as opposed to 256MB. Without further ado, on the following pages are our results.