There's a set of very obvious conclusions to draw here,
especially considering that the order of finishing in our benchmarks hardly
changed at all... The cards that led in the first test were still leading in the
Our conclusions then - SLI has some excellent potential,
and the nVidia Geforce 6600GT graphics processor provides an
amazing value platform for it. We saw some impressive gains in synthetic
benchmark performance, but what really impressed us were the gaming benchmarks,
especially Doom 3. The idea of a
couple of sub-$200 cards providing that kind of performance is quite exciting.
If you are a gamer looking for top-notch performance at a not so high price, you
might want to consider investing in an SLI motherboard soon...!
The 6600GT cards provide substantially better
performance than the ATI X700 Pro card in most applications, for an average
price of about $20 more. For mainstream cards, this seems to be the best current
Despite the fact that current games and video cards
should not need the extra bandwidth that PCI Express offers, our PCI
Express-based 6600 GT cards were slightly but consistently faster than their
AGP8X counterparts. This could be because of the PCI Express to AGP bridge, or
the chipsets involved, but whatever the reason the difference is real. If you
are planning to upgrade your video card soon, consider moving to a PCI Express
based system at the same time.
The plain Geforce 6600 GPU is adequate for gaming, but
falls an order of magnitude behind the 6600GTs in our roundup. The price
difference between these two GPUs is substantial (about $60-70 US) so the
Albatron Trinity Geforce PC6600 and other 6600-based cards may still be the
right choice for gamers on a tight budget, especially when overclocked. The Albatron Trinity Geforce PC6600U and the ASUS
Extreme N6600TOP/TD/128M/A, both of which use faster than stock speeds for the
GPU and memory, should give you some idea of the performance you can expect from
an overclocked 6600-based card.
All of our 6600GT
cards gave more or less equivalent performance, making it hard to choose between
them. The three AGP cards were slightly slower, as we mentioned, and the MSI
NX6600GT-TD128 AGP also suffered from its lower stock memory speed. The Gigabyte GV-3D1 was the head of the class in most of
our tests, even running in single (non-SLI) mode; this can be attributed to its
memory being clocked faster than the rest of the cards in the roundup.
Of our thee AGP cards, the MSI NX6600GT-VTD128SP
provided better overall performance, but we liked the MSI NX6600GT-TD128 AGP's
combination of a slightly lower price, VIVO options and impressive software
bundle as well. All three AGP cards provided good overclocking ability, which
was nice to see. The Albatron card's slightly noisy fan stood out in this almost
silent lineup. We couldn't help noticing all of these cards' higher prices and
lack of SLI though. PCI Express is definitely the way to go if you have the
Of the PCI Express based cards we reviewed, both the
Gigabyte GV-NX66T128D and the MSI NX6600GT-TD128E provided top-notch performance
at a decent price. The MSI card overclocked slightly better and had a more
comprehensive bundle packaged with it, while the Gigabyte model came with newer
games. Both represent excellent value. We were also impressed with the
performance of the ASUS Extreme N6600TOP/TD/128M/A. Though it is based on the
6600 core, ASUS' decision to boost the core and memory speeds paid off with a
big performance increase, moving it close to full 6600GT territory. Also it's
overclocking abilities were quite shocking, leading us to believe that ASUS has
slipped a 'ringer' 6600GT core into the mix.
The Gigabyte GV-3D1 videocard was the unquestioned
performance leader in this roundup, but things get a little confused when it
comes to the overall value the card provides.
According to Gigabyte, it will
initially be packaged only with Gigabyte SLI motherboards, as it is not
compatible with regular SLI boards. At a cost of ~$499US for the board and card,
it represents decent value, but only if you need a full upgrade. The fact that
this card will work with non-SLI motherboards (though only in single GPU mode
obviously) gives it a little flexibility.
|Best Value Overall:|
We were impressed with the performance, overclockability
and SLI-capabilities of all the 6600GT cards in this roundup. It's clear that
they offer exceptional value to any gamer on a budget, and the added promise of
SLI only emphasizes this more. It's also clear that PCI Express is fast becoming
a necessity, as the lack of SLI and overall higher prices hurt our AGP entries.
We'd expect the next generation of video chipsets to show an even greater gap in
performance between AGP8x and PCI Express, if AGP is even supported.
So who are the overall winners?
The Gigabyte GV-3D1 is without a doubt the best performing 6600GT
card out there. It's an unusual card, and it might not sell too many units
because of the limited range of boards it can be fully used with, but nothing
touches it when it comes to performance, whether in single or SLI mode. The
prize for the overall best card in this roundup, though, belongs to MSI and the NX6600GT-TD128E.
It was close, but this card's combination of decent price, good core
overclocking, great memory overclocking and solid standalone and SLI performance
carried the day.
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