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Leadtek WinFast PX6600 TD based on NVIDIA GeForce 6600

October 30, 2004








Contents

  1. Video card's features
  2. Testbed configurations, benchmarks, 2D quality
  3. Test results: Serious Sam: The Second Encounter
  4. Test results: Code Creatures
  5. Test results: Unreal Tournament 2003
  6. Test results: Unreal II: The Awakening
  7. Test results: RightMark 3D
  8. Test results: TRAOD
  9. Test results: FarCry
  10. Test results: Call Of Duty
  11. Test results: HALO: Combat Evolved
  12. Test results: Half-Life2(beta)
  13. Test results: Splinter Cell
  14. Test results: Quake3 Arena
  15. Test results: Return to Castle Wolfenstein
  16. Test results: DOOM III
  17. Conclusions



Today we have very interesting material. Above all, because it's the first review of GeForce 6600 on our web site. Not long ago, in mid August there has been launched a new series of video cards from NVIDIA intended to satisfy the growing requirements of gamers in the Middle End accelerators sector, that is within the 150-250 USD price range.

Taking into account the progressive nature of innovations from Intel, namely PCI-Express, both ATI and NVIDIA release all their new video cards with hardware support for this bus only. This is despite the fact that the new platform has not yet bitten off even 1% of the market (in spring ATI boasted of mastering 40% of the market by autumn, now they claim 25% by the end of the year, in reality they will manage maximum 5%, I think). But as NVIDIA already has HSI bridge, which can easily operate both ways, it's only a matter of time and marketing interests to release AGP-based video cards with GeForce 6600 processor. Such products will appear soon.

In general terms, as we have already found out before, NV43 aka GeForce 6600/6600GT is just a half of NV40 with some peculiarities. In the articles listed below you can read about NV40 as well as NV43.

Theoretical materials and reviews of video cards, which concern functional properties of the GPU ATI RADEON X800 (R420)/X700 (RV410) and NVIDIA GeForce 6800 (NV40)/6600 (NV43)

So, what are the peculiarities of NV43, which prevent us from stating that it's a sterling half of NV40? There is only one reason: it cannot write all 8 processed pixels at one cycle. That is, 8 rendering pipes produce 8 color values, but the memory buffer is written only 4 values at a cycle. And when the accelerator performs another operation within the same pass, the remaining 4 values are written at the second cycle. This leads to some drop in performance relative to the "pure 8-pipeline operations", especially it has its negative effect with AA. However, it's the only minus of this technology. Everything is OK in other respects. There is sterling support for all NV40 properties in terms of shaders, etc. But will it fair that well in the competition with c X700? The stands are filling up with fans. Let's introduce our hero.

We have already reviewed the flagship of the series – 6600GT on the example of the reference card. Now let's look at its junior on the example of a video card from Leadtek. I guess there is no need in telling you about this famous brand, so let's get straight to the point.

Video card



Leadtek WinFast PX6600 TD




Leadtek WinFast PX6600 TD
The cards have the PCI-Express 16x interface, 128 MB DDR SDRAM allocated in 8 chips on the front side of the PCB.

Hynix memory chips. 3.6ns memory access time, which corresponds to 275 (550) MHz, at which the memory operates. GPU frequency — 300 MHz. 128-bit memory bus. 8 pixel pipelines 3 vertex ones.






Comparison with the reference design, front view
Leadtek WinFast PX6600 TD
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT











Comparison with the reference design, back view
Leadtek WinFast PX6600 TD
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT








As you can see, this card differs from its elder brother by a simplified PCB designed for slower DDR memory in TSOP package, no SLI support. Nevertheless, the card is equipped with Philips 7115 codec responsible for VIVO, and the bundle includes an appropriate adapter.




Leadtek WinFast PX6600 TD

The cooling system is obviously radiant with simplicity and attempts of its designers to add some style even to such primitive cooler as this heatsink with a fan in the middle. The heatsink is rather large, though the chip, manufactured according to the 0.11-micron process technology and operating at 300 MHz, does not overheat much.









And here is the graphics processor.








Let's look at the bundle.

Leadtek WinFast PX6600 TD

The box contains a user's manual, CD with drivers, VIVO software, Prince of Persia and SC:PT (DVD) games; VIVO adapter, DVI-to-d-Sub adapter.






And now, let's have a look at the box itself:

Leadtek WinFast PX6600 TD

The box is made of millboard with a picture of fairy-tale heroes. It's quite a long-standing tradition of the company to decorate the box in this style. Quite a nice one.






Installation and Drivers

Testbed configurations:

  • Pentium4 Overclocked 3200 MHz (Prescott) based computer
    • Intel Pentium4 3600 MHz CPU (225MHz x 16; L2=1024K, LGA775); Hyper-Threading enabled
    • ABIT AA8 DuraMAX mainboard based on i925X
    • 1 GB DDR2 SDRAM 300MHz
    • WD Caviar SE WD1600JD 160GB SATA HDD

  • Operating system – Windows XP SP2; DirectX 9.0c
  • Monitors: ViewSonic P810 (21") and Mitsubishi Diamond Pro 2070sb (21").
  • ATI drivers v6.490 (CATALYST 4.10); NVIDIA drivers v66.51.

VSync is disabled.

It should be noted that both companies have enabled trilinear filtering optimizations in their drivers by default.

Test results

Before giving a brief evaluation of 2D, I will repeat that at present there is NO valid method for objective evaluation of this parameter due to the following reasons:

  1. 2D quality in most modern 3D accelerators dramatically depends on a specific sample, and it's impossible to evaluate all the cards.
  2. 2D quality depends not only on the video card, but also on the monitor and a cable.
  3. A great impact on this parameter has been recently demonstrated by monitor-card combos, that is there are monitors, which just won't "work" with specific video cards.

What concerns the combo of our sample under review and Mitsubishi Diamond Pro 2070sb, this card demonstrated the excellent quality in the following resolutions and frequencies:

Leadtek WinFast PX6600 TD 1600x1200x85Hz, 1280x1024x120Hz, 1024x768x160Hz


Test results: performance comparison

We used the following test applications:

  • Serious Sam: The Second Encounter v.1.05 (Croteam/GodGames) – OpenGL, multitexturing, ixbt0703-demo, test settings: quality, S3TC OFF

  • Quake3 Arena v.1.17 (id Software/Activision) – OpenGL, multitexturing, ixbt0703-demo, all test settings to maximum: detailing level – High, texture details – #4, S3TC OFF, curved surfaces are strongly smoothed using variables r_subdivisions «1» and r_lodCurveError «30000» (note that by default r_lodCurveError «250» !), the configurations can be downloaded here

  • Code Creatures Benchmark Pro (CodeCult) – gaming test demonstrating how the video card works with DirectX 8.1, Shaders, HW T&L.

  • Unreal Tournament 2003 v.2225 (Digital Extreme/Epic Games) – Direct3D, Vertex Shaders, Hardware T&L, Dot3, cube texturing, default quality

  • Unreal II: The Awakening (Legend Ent./Epic Games) – Direct3D, Vertex Shaders, Hardware T&L, Dot3, cube texturing, default quality

  • RightMark 3D v.0.4 (one of game scenes) – DirectX 8.1, Dot3, cube texturing, shadow buffers, vertex and pixel shaders (1.1, 1.4).

  • Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness v.49 (Core Design/Eldos Software) – DirectX 9.0, Paris5_4 demo. The tests were conducted with the quality set to maximum, only Depth of Fields PS20 was disabled.

  • HALO: Combat Evolved (Microsoft) – Direct3D, Vertex/Pixel Shaders 1.1/2.0, Hardware T&L, maximum quality

  • Half-Life2 (Valve/Sierra) – DirectX 9.0, demo (ixbt07. The tests were carried out with enabled anisotropic filtering as well as in heavy mode with AA and anisotropy.

  • Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell v.1.2b (UbiSoft) – Direct3D, Vertex/Pixel Shaders 1.1/2.0, Hardware T&L, Very High settings; demo 1_1_2_Tbilisi

  • Call of Duty (MultiPlayer) (Infinity Ward/Activision) – OpenGL, multitexturing, ixbt0104demo, test settings – maximum, S3TC ON

  • FarCry 1.2 (Crytek/UbiSoft), DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, demo01 (research) (the game was started with the -DEVMODE option), test settings – Very High.

  • Return to Castle Wolfenstein (MultiPlayer) (id Software/Activision) – OpenGL, multitexturing, ixbt0703-demo, test settings – all to maximum, S3TC OFF,

  • DOOM III (id Software/Activision) – OpenGL, multitexturing, test settings – High Quality (ANIS8x),

If you want to get the demo-benchmarks, which we use, contact me at my e-mail.



Serious Sam: The Second Encounter



  • GeForce 6600 versus RADEON X700 – complex pitch: obvious defeat with AA (it's quite clear) and impressive victory with AF, hence parity.
  • GeForce 6600 versus RADEON X700 PRO – obviously, if the above test demonstrates parity, this one will show defeat.
  • GeForce 6600 versus GeForce PCX5900 – performance with AA let the card down resulting in very approximate parity.



Code Creatures



  • GeForce 6600 versus RADEON X700 – ultimate defeat!
  • GeForce 6600 versus RADEON X700 PRO – all the more so!
  • GeForce 6600 versus GeForce PCX5900 – victory only with AF, in other cases – defeat.



Unreal Tournament 2003



  • GeForce 6600 versus RADEON X700 – fiasco!
  • GeForce 6600 versus RADEON X700 PRO – ignominious failure!
  • GeForce 6600 versus GeForce PCX5900 – the same picture!

It's a real ill fate...

Unreal II: The Awakening



  • GeForce 6600 versus RADEON X700 – harsh workaday routine for the NVIDIA product: failure!
  • GeForce 6600 versus RADEON X700 PRO – gone to the dogs.
  • GeForce 6600 versus GeForce PCX5900 – victory here! It's unique...

But still, misfortunes never come alone...

RightMark 3D



  • GeForce 6600 versus RADEON X700 – all is bad...
  • GeForce 6600 versus RADEON X700 PRO – still worse...
  • GeForce 6600 versus GeForce PCX5900 – the card loses heavily...

It never rains but it pours... Sad but true.

TR:AoD, Paris5_4 DEMO



  • GeForce 6600 versus RADEON X700 – knock out again, and 6600 is out...
  • GeForce 6600 versus RADEON X700 PRO – to crown it all, a hit below the belt....
  • GeForce 6600 versus GeForce PCX5900 – it is victorious at least in this weight category. This is due to miserable shader speed in FX 5900.

And it's sunless and rainy outside...

FarCry, demo01



The same picture. There is no need in detailed analysis. GeForce 6600 is no match against X700!



Call of Duty, ixbt04



  • GeForce 6600 versus RADEON X700 – at least something plods along, but... Overall defeat
  • GeForce 6600 versus RADEON X700 PRO – all the more so...
  • GeForce 6600 versus GeForce PCX5900 – almost victory, but AA has ruined it all. Considering the performance of this game, it's destined for AA and AF... It brings parity.



HALO: Combat Evolved



Again defeated and on the knees before the ATI product, having outscored only the competitor from its own camp, which performance with shaders had been leaving much to be desired for a long time.



Half-Life2 (beta): ixbt07 demo



The same picture.



Splinter Cell



  • GeForce 6600 versus RADEON X700 – some shaky approximate parity...
  • GeForce 6600 versus RADEON X700 PRO – defeat.
  • GeForce 6600 versus GeForce PCX5900 – victory.



Quake III Arena



It's a laborious lot... Yep, while the royal 6800 series is fine, NVIDIA maintains well its reputation, the workhorses must be working hard... But there is no output... Their competitor is flogging and elbowing them out of their positions. This crafty X700...



Return to Castle Wolfenstein (Multiplayer)



You think the sun peeps out again? Nothing of the sort! GeForce 6600 is still wallowing in mud defeated. Its only salvation is its price.



DOOM III



  • GeForce 6600 versus RADEON X700 – aha! Now it's our turn to triumph! So much for X700 drinking blood from the son of California! Though with AA... Still, it's a painful blow.
  • GeForce 6600 versus RADEON X700 PRO – if not take into account AA and AF, it's parity. But if take it into account, then... nothing, because no sane gamer will enable THEM at these speeds.
  • GeForce 6600 versus GeForce PCX5900 – everything is fine, going great guns.

Conclusions

Thus, what do we see? GeForce 6600 is in bruises and scratches, hit in all possible places. Let's call the emergency of distributors and those who dictate prices. Only they can save the child! Dear sirs, don't raise the prices! Let this accelerator live!

And its price is $150. But considering that this handsome video card with bright FX 5900 in its heart is outscored, the price is actually OK. You should understand that X700 PRO costs about 200 USD so far, and thus their comparison is quite relative. We don't know yet how much X700 will be, and when it appears it may be too late: GeForce 6600 will recover and learn...

So, we have too much of the unknown. In comparison with available PCI-E video cards, GeForce 6600 looks excellent! Very tasty! In comparison with the coming X700, it's a nothing. But when will this nearest future come? ATI keeps silence. It barely squeezed a couple of droplets of X700 PRO to the Japanese market (a couple of thousands, of course). There are a lot of pastures in Canada, one should graze cattle well instead of inventing cloned symbionts (for example, X700XT chips for X700 PRO cards). In this case the yield of milk will be good.

Let's return to our muttons. This video card demonstrated excellent operating stability. And most importantly, it will please overclockers, because its chip managed to reach 430 (!) MHz (from the nominal 300!). The memory certainly didn't go higher than 330 MHz, but the chip capacity plays an increasingly more important role in the latest games. Quality... Just say "This one here is made by Leadtek", and you will hear the answer: "No tests necessary. Its quality is impeccable".

And VIVO! Don't forget about it! To say nothing of Shaders 3.0. Though when they appear, this card will be receiving the pension certificate with fringe benefits from NVIDIA CEO.

GeForce 6600 turned out too skinny and ill-fed against its juicy brother GeForce 6600GT. NVIDIA shouldn't have allowed this gap between their core frequencies (300 and 500 MHz). Besides, it cut down the memory bandwidth by half (550 and 1000 MHz). While the price difference is not that fundamental. In this respect ATI has a better selected frequency range, that's why X700 is victorious.

In our 3Digest you can find more detailed comparisons of various video cards.



Andrey Vorobiev (anvakams@ixbt.com)

October 30, 2004


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