There are three groups of performance users: the dollars do not matter and I want the best group, the type that go out and buy the 8800GTS or 8800GTX in SLI. Another is the performance user who knows what good performance is, but is a bit more realistic with their budget. This group generally buys the single 8800GTS or 8800GTX. Finally you have the people that do not have loads of money to spend, and by the time they save up for a single 8800 there is a new model coming.
For a few reasons we would recommend the 8600GTS with a planned upgrade to SLI later as the preferred combination for the latter group.
Straight away you do not have to turn around and spend too much money. You can buy a card that is probably going to do you just fine for now, and by the time you get around to being able to afford another, there will be new games that need more power and the upgrade is going to really help increase your performance. The other thing is that by the time you buy a second card, it should have dropped in price making SLI an even better option again.
Then there is the added feature of DX10 support. If you have a 7600GT and find yourself buying a second one now for SLI at a pretty cheap price, you are going to get a nice speed bump, sure, but the problem is you are going to be completely missing out on DX10. With the 8600s on the other hand, you do not have to worry about not having such a major feature when the next release of mid-range cards come out in the future.
SLI 8600GTS makes the most sense for users who do not want to spend large amounts of cash on an 8800 series, which may then mean they have to sacrifice other things.
However, if you can afford a pair of SLI 8600s now we would not recommend it. SLI has never really been about buying a pair of cards at the same time in the mid-range and below sector. You would be better off buying an 8800. But if you find yourself unable to save up money, yet want to dump that tired and boring card in your system right now, the 8600GTS with the plan to buy a second in the near future is a great option as far as we are concerned and the BFG product is quite good offering further performance improvements when overclocked.
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