Looking over the results at hand, the NVIDIA GeForce 8500GT is a decent performer. However, this is under Linux. We cannot say for certain how well the G86 will perform under Microsoft Windows XP or Vista, but our most recent NVIDIA driver studies have shown the Linux and Windows drivers are on par with one another. Thus you can expect the 8500GT to perform roughly the same whether it be Windows or Linux. On the ATI side, however, the results tell a much different story. In some benchmarks the $100 NVIDIA GPU had outperformed ATI's Radeon X1950PRO due to the sluggish state of the ATI fglrx drivers when it comes to the frame-rate performance (ATI - A Year in Review 2006). When it comes to the other cards, the NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT 128MB had outperformed the 8500GT, while the GeForce 7800GTX 256MB had of course led the pact. As far as the overclocking goes, we were pleased that Gigabyte had managed to factory overclock the G86 core by 50MHz, and when using CoolBits for Linux we were able to add on another 50MHz to the GPU. However, the passively-cooled Gigabyte GV-NX85T256H could not handle much more than that and is not designed for overclocking.
After using the NVIDIA GeForce 8500GT for a few days now, we see this budget GPU as being an excellent candidate for possible use in a HTPC or media box. The card's performance in these gaming benchmarks is very nice and it should have no problems handling MythTV. Outside of the media possibilities, the 8500GT is sufficient for a desktop user simply wishing to enjoy Beryl or Compiz and the card is even acceptable for the casual gamer. Availability of the GeForce 8500GT is expected on May 1, but if you look now you should be able to find some for sale. The Linux 100.14.03 drivers available right now are considered beta, but we would expect to see a refined driver coming out of the NVIDIA camp for Solaris, Linux, and FreeBSD hopefully in May once the GeForce 8800 Ultra surfaces.
Discuss this article in the Phoronix Forums and shortly we will be back with additional benchmarks from the NVIDIA GeForce 8 series along with the ATI's soon to be introduced competition.