My hardware purchases come fairly few and far between, and I prefer to purchase something that I am pretty sure I can trust to last. For example, when building the last few rigs, I purchased various items that I had previously reviewed. Mostly because I felt that they were excellent products with great bang-for-the-buck value and also partly because I was a little afraid of buying something I wasn't sure about.
Just to keep the record straight, the previous two video cards, an Apollo AGP 6600GT, and a Leadtek 7900GS, both are still running fine. So I really have no qualms about a video card from a company I haven't heard of.
Zotac International is a member of the Hong Kong Based PC Partner LTD group, which has been around since 1997. They build the full line of nVidia geForce cards, including some factory overclocked models.
The 8600GTS fills the shoes of its predecessors, the 7600GT and 6600GT, the “middle-of-the-road” gaming card. It is familiar territory to me, having owned both of those cards, and having always owned graphics cards in that niche. With the nVidia “8” series, the “GTS” model appears to have taken the place of the “GT” model of the earlier product lines, and the “GT” has taken the place of the “GS”. I really don't understand why nVidia did that, adding confusion to an already confusing world of video cards.
The Zotac 8600GTS is packaged in this sharp-looking box. The inside packaging is all recyclable cardboard, and appears to protect the card as well as can be expected. Not shown in the photo is a couple of “air pillows” that were in the box for protection.