The ominous blue board on any Gigabyte product is a sure sign that Gigabyte has taken the standard reference and added its own tweaks. In the case of the Gigabyte GeForce 8500 GT TurboForce Ultra Edition, Gigabyte has opted to add its own fancy heat sink and cranked up the clock speeds significantly to give this card a fair boost to its performance.
With a suffix such as "TurboForce Ultra edition" you'd expect there to be a significant difference and there is. The standard clock speeds of the NVIDIA GeForce 8500 GT are 450MHz for the Core and 400MHz (800MHz effective) for the memory clock. On the Gigabyte GeForce 8500 GT TurboForce Ultra Edition it has been cranked up to 600MHz for the core clock speed and 700MHz for the memory.
The Gigabyte GeForce 8500 GT TurboForce Ultra Edition also uses only solid capacitors, which, according to Gigabyte, are more efficient and last longer.
Presumably to counter the added heat imposed by this factory overclocking, the Gigabyte GeForce 8500 GT TurboForce Ultra Edition board has a large, elaborate cooler that is painted gold and looks like some kind of Imperial regalia. The cooler is not entirely passive, a small fan spins away to help manage the temperature, but only seems to kick in when the card is actually running a game. Therefore the card is reasonably quiet when the system is idle or under a minimal workload.
Beyond the clock speeds and the all-solid capacitor board, the Gigabyte GeForce 8500 GT TurboForce Ultra Edition offers the same specifications as other GeForce 8500 GT cards. It has 16 stream processors, 256MB of GDDR3 RAM and a 128-bit memory bus. Standard 8500 GT cards produce throughput of 12.8Gbps (gigabits per second), while this card reaches a theoretical maximum of 22.4Gbps.
In our benchmarks we saw typically low results, although casual gamers who don't expect the best quality settings from their games will still enjoy the Gigabyte GeForce 8500 GT TurboForce Ultra Edition's performance. In FEAR we only got playable results using the maximum quality settings, but a resolution of only 1024x768, in which it averaged 39fps (frames per second). In Half-Life 2 we saw an average of 48fps using the maximum quality settings at a resolution of 1920x1200.
In the Lost Planet: Extreme Condition DirectX 10 version we saw an average of 69fps using the default settings. Using a resolution of 1920x1200 and with all the DirectX 10 settings turned on, the frame rate dropped to a meagre 5.2fps. In the Call of Juarez DirectX 10 demo using the default settings, it averaged only 6fps. Dropping the settings to 1024x768 and using the low quality options achieved just 18.7fps.
The Gigabyte GeForce 8500 GT TurboForce Ultra Edition also ships with Dawn of War: Dark Crusade, an excellent real-time strategy game that's worth a few hours of fun.
- Gigabyte GeForce 8500 GT TurboForce Ultra Edition: expert review
- Gigabyte GeForce 8500 GT TurboForce Ultra Edition: image gallery
A factory overclocked card, whose fan spins only when running a game, the Gigabyte GeForce 8500 GT TurboForce Ultra Edition is never the less not for high-end gamers. It is a solid low end card made to function at a higher level. The Gigabyte GeForce 8500 GT TurboForce Ultra Edition is quiet and powerful enough for casual gamers to have a bit of fun.