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NVIDIA GeForce 6200/6600/6600GT based Video Cards:
ASUS EN6600 256MB
Axle GeForce 6600GT AGP 128MB
Galaxy GeForce 6600GT 128MB
Gigabyte GeForce 6200 128MB
Gigabyte GeForce 6600GT AGP 128MB
Leadtek WinFast PX6600GT Extreme 128MB
Palit GeForce 6600GT AGP 128MB
Prolink PixelView GeForce 6600GT AGP 128MB

February 14, 2005






Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Video cards' features
  3. Testbed configurations, benchmarks
  4. Test results: summary performance diagrams
  5. Conclusions



The launch of GeForce 66xx-62xx series marked the end of the shameful epoch in the life of Californian company, because the previous FX 5xxx generations were obviously weaker than similar solutions from ATI. Besides they were disastrously slow with shaders, 4-5 times as slow as their competitors.

Unfortunately, NVIDIA (as well as ATI) fell for Intel's enticement and plumped in the wrong PCi-E market development forecast, which resulted in evident faults: PCI-E products (platforms) have only 5-10% of the market, but there are so many video cards with PCI-Express x16 interface already that they obstruct each other. And the demand for such cards is not growing. (To say nothing about ATI, canadian strategists should have got a job in Africa – we would have already heard the news that Sahara had been running out of sand already...)

But NVIDIA is in a much better situation, because their far-seeing strategy provided for a bi-directional bridge on the eve of PCI-E. The first announcements demonstrated that HSI was used for AGP-PCI-E transformations, but now the contrary usage can be seen more often: PCI-E-AGP. We are only to welcome this. It's no secret that the GeForce 6600/6600GT is a very successful solution for its price. It would be a pity if it could have been used only by those 5-10% of users with PCI-E platforms.

That's why launching the GeForce 6600GT AGP was a correct decision. In fact, it may win ATI's share of the market of desktop solutions with external video cards within 200-250 USD. The Canadian company currently has nothing to offer here. Quite a good X700 is bound hand foot by its PCI-E interface.

So, we proceed with our review of new NV43 series video cards that keep appearing on the market. The GeForce 6200 also belongs to this series. It's just the NV43, but with twice as few pixel pipelines. That is it has the same chip and identical functionality. But its performance is lower (as well as its price).

In our article we'll review eight video cards, with AGP as well as with PCi-E interfaces. All the manufacturers are well known on the Russian market and there is no point in introducing them.

Video Cards



ASUS EN6600 256MB
Interface: PCI-Express x16

Frequencies (chip/memory – physical (memory – effective): 307/256 (512) MHz (nominal – 300/250 (500) MHz)

Memory bus width: 128bit

Number of vertex pipelines: 3

Number of pixel pipelines: 8

Dimensions: 180x100x18mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: dark blue.

Output connectors: DVI, d-Sub, S-Video.

VIVO: n/a

TV-out: integrated into GPU.




Axle GeForce 6600GT AGP 128MB
Interface: AGP 2x/4x/8x

Frequencies (chip/memory – physical (memory – effective): 500/525 (1050) MHz (nominal – 500/450 (900) MHz)

Memory bus width: 128bit

Number of vertex pipelines: 3

Number of pixel pipelines: 8

Dimensions: 175x100x18mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: dark brown coming near to black.

Output connectors: DVI, d-Sub, S-Video.

VIVO: n/a

TV-out: integrated into GPU.




Galaxy GeForce 6600GT 128MB
Interface: PCI-Express x16

Frequencies (chip/memory – physical (memory – effective): 500/500 (1000) MHz (nominal – 500/500 (1000) MHz)

Memory bus width: 128bit

Number of vertex pipelines: 3

Number of pixel pipelines: 8

Dimensions: 175x100x18mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: apple green.

Output connectors: DVI, d-Sub, S-Video.

VIVO: n/a

TV-out: integrated into GPU.




Gigabyte GeForce 6200 128MB
Interface: PCI-Express x16

Frequencies (chip/memory – physical (memory – effective): 300/250 (500) MHz (nominal – 300/250 (500) MHz)

Memory bus width: 128bit

Number of vertex pipelines: 3

Number of pixel pipelines: 4

Dimensions: 180x100x18mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: blue.

Output connectors: DVI, d-Sub, S-Video.

VIVO: n/a

TV-out: integrated into GPU.




Gigabyte GeForce 6600GT AGP 128MB
Interface: AGP 2x/4x/8x

Frequencies (chip/memory – physical (memory – effective): 500/500 (1000) MHz (nominal – 500/450 (900) MHz)

Memory bus width: 128bit

Number of vertex pipelines: 3

Number of pixel pipelines: 8

Dimensions: 175x100x18mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: blue.

Output connectors: DVI, d-Sub, S-Video.

VIVO: n/a

TV-out: integrated into GPU.




Leadtek WinFast PX6600GT Extreme 128MB
Interface: PCI-Express x16

Frequencies (chip/memory – physical (memory – effective): 2D mode: 560/570 (1140) MHz; 3D mode: 550/560 (1120) MHz (nominal - 500/500 (1000) MHz)

Memory bus width: 128bit

Number of vertex pipelines: 3

Number of pixel pipelines: 8

Dimensions: 175x100x18mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: green.

Output connectors: DVI, d-Sub, S-Video.

VIVO: n/a

TV-out: integrated into GPU.




Palit GeForce 6600GT AGP 128MB
Interface: AGP 2x/4x/8x

Frequencies (chip/memory – physical (memory – effective): 500/450 (900) MHz (nominal – 500/450 (900) MHz)

Memory bus width: 128bit

Number of vertex pipelines: 3

Number of pixel pipelines: 8

Dimensions: 175x100x18mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: apple green.

Output connectors: DVI, d-Sub, S-Video.

VIVO: n/a

TV-out: integrated into GPU.




Prolink PixelView GeForce 6600GT AGP 128MB
Interface: AGP 2x/4x/8x

Frequencies (chip/memory – physical (memory – effective): 500/450 (900) MHz (nominal – 500/450 (900) MHz)

Memory bus width: 128bit

Number of vertex pipelines: 3

Number of pixel pipelines: 8

Dimensions: 175x100x18mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: green.

Output connectors: DVI, d-Sub, S-Video.

VIVO: n/a

TV-out: integrated into GPU.






ASUS EN6600 256MB
The card has 256 MB DDR SDRAM allocated in 8 chips on the front side of the PCB.

Hynix memory chips. 4ns memory access time, which corresponds to 250 (500) MHz.




Axle GeForce 6600GT AGP 128MB
The card has 128 MB GDDR3 SDRAM allocated in 4 chips on the front side of the PCB.

Samsung (GDDR3) memory chips. 2.0ns memory access time, which corresponds to 500 (1000) MHz.




Galaxy GeForce 6600GT 128MB
The card has 128 MB GDDR3 SDRAM allocated in 4 chips on the front side of the PCB.

Samsung (GDDR3) memory chips. 1.6ns memory access time, which corresponds to 625 (1250) MHz.




Gigabyte GeForce 6200 128MB
The card has 128 MB DDR SDRAM allocated in 8 chips on the front side of the PCB.

Hynix memory chips. 4ns memory access time, which corresponds to 250 (500) MHz.




Gigabyte GeForce 6600GT AGP 128MB
The card has 128 MB GDDR3 SDRAM allocated in 4 chips on the front side of the PCB.

Samsung (GDDR3) memory chips. 2.0ns memory access time, which corresponds to 500 (1000) MHz.




Leadtek WinFast PX6600GT Extreme 128MB
The card has 128 MB GDDR3 SDRAM allocated in 4 chips on the front side of the PCB.

Samsung (GDDR3) memory chips. 1.6ns memory access time, which corresponds to 625 (1250) MHz.




Palit GeForce 6600GT AGP 128MB
The card has 128 MB GDDR3 SDRAM allocated in 4 chips on the front side of the PCB.

Samsung (GDDR3) memory chips. 2.0ns memory access time, which corresponds to 500 (1000) MHz.




Prolink PixelView GeForce 6600GT AGP 128MB
The card has 128 MB GDDR3 SDRAM allocated in 4 chips on the front side of the PCB.

Samsung (GDDR3) memory chips. 2.0ns memory access time, which corresponds to 500 (1000) MHz.






Comparison with the reference design, front view
ASUS EN6600 256MB
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 6600









Gigabyte GeForce 6200 128MB






Axle GeForce 6600GT AGP 128MB
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT AGP









Palit GeForce 6600GT AGP 128MB






Prolink PixelView GeForce 6600GT AGP 128MB






Gigabyte GeForce 6600GT AGP 128MB






Galaxy GeForce 6600GT 128MB
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT









Leadtek WinFast PX6600GT Extreme 128MB








Comparison with the reference design, back view
ASUS EN6600 256MB Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 6600






Gigabyte GeForce 6200 128MB



Axle GeForce 6600GT AGP 128MB Reference card NVIDIA NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT AGP






Palit GeForce 6600GT AGP 128MB



Prolink PixelView GeForce 6600GT AGP 128MB



Gigabyte GeForce 6600GT AGP 128MB



Galaxy GeForce 6600GT 128MB Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT






Leadtek WinFast PX6600GT Extreme 128MB





What do we see here? The product from Palit is obviously based on the original design of this company. Why didn't the engineers use the reference design with the inclined layout of GPU and memory block and shifted location of the HSI bridge? Note that Palit designers didn't enlarge the reference dimensions. Visual inspection reveals that Palit's layout is simpler than the reference one. But there's no such thing as free lunch: this card demonstrated the worst overclocking results, which suggests the idea that Palit engineers reduced the price of this card so that it can operate maximum at standard 500/900 MHz. Later on you will see another disadvantage of this card.

The other products completely match the reference design, so there is no point in describing them. According to the latest information from forums, Achilles heel of the GeForce 6600GT AGP is insufficient cooling of the HSI bridge. So we should pay special attention to this issue.

Galaxy video card has an illuminated cooler, which will please modding fans.




Let's review the cooling systems.

ASUS EN6600 256MB

A small round heatsink made of aluminium alloy with plated fins curved in the direction of air flow.

2500 rpm fan is located in the center.

The cooling system is quiet, we noticed no noise that exceeds the background level.







Axle GeForce 6600GT AGP 128MB

Massive multiangular heatsink with copper fins and base. It's covered with air guiding housing. It's pressed tight to GPU as well as to HSI. It cools all the chips (chip, bridge, memory).

The 2500 rpm fan is placed to the left of the heatsink center.

The cooling system is relatively quiet, we noticed only minor noise that exceeds the background level.







Galaxy GeForce 6600GT 128MB

A small round heatsink made of copper alloy with plate fins along the edges. Memory chips are equipped with additional heatsinks (one per two chips) attached with thermal glue.

2500 rpm fan is located in the center.

The cooling system is quiet, we noticed no noise that exceeds the background level.







Gigabyte GeForce 6200 128MB

A rectangular heatsink made of copper alloy with plate fins. It's covered with housing.

2500 rpm fan is located in the center.

The cooling system is quiet, we noticed no noise that exceeds the background level.







Gigabyte GeForce 6600GT AGP 128MB

A rectangular heatsink made of aluminium alloy with plate fins on the right. It's covered with housing.

The 3000 rpm fan is placed to the left of the heatsink center. The HSI bridge is cooled by a separate finned heatsink made of aluminium alloy.

The cooling system is almost quiet, we noticed almost no noise that exceeds the background level.







Leadtek WinFast PX6600GT Extreme 128MB

A small round heatsink made of aluminium alloy with plate fins of various lengths.

2500 rpm fan is located in the center.

The cooling system is quiet, we noticed no noise that exceeds the background level.







Palit GeForce 6600GT AGP 128MB

A large rectangular finned heatsink made of aluminium alloy cools all the chips (chip, bridge, memory).

The 4000 rpm fan is off-center, closer to the top of the heatsink. It not pressed to the HSI bridge very tight.

The cooling system is very noisy.







Prolink PixelView GeForce 6600GT AGP 128MB

Massive multiangular heatsink with aluminium fins and base. It's covered with air guiding housing. It's pressed tight to GPU as well as to HSI. It cools all the chips (chip, bridge, memory).

The 2500 rpm fan is placed to the left of the heatsink center.

The cooling system is relatively quiet, we noticed only minor noise that exceeds the background level.









Our heroes of the day (GeForce 6200, 6600 and 6600GT processors) are expectedly located under the coolers.




I repeat that GeForce 6200 is just the NV43 (GeForce 6600) with half of its pixel pipelines locked on the software level. Sometimes you can unlock them using RivaTuner (but it's a lottery, so I shall not dwell on this issue).

So these are the cards: an overclocked GeForce 6600GT designed by Leadtek (this card is equipped with faster memory than necessary, and the cores were tested separately to make sure they will cope with increased frequencies); a product from Galaxy operating at its standard frequencies but having an excellent overclocking capacity due to faster 1.6ns memory and a copper cooler on the core; GeForce 6600GT AGP from Gigabyte is notable for its memory frequencies – they are the same as in PCI-E counterparts, that is higher by 50MHz; the same can be said about the video card from Axle; but ASUS EN6600, Prolink PixelView GeForce 6600GT AGP 128MB and Gigabyte GeForce 6200 are just regular products based on the reference design. I have already mentioned Palit GeForce 6600GT AGP above: this card does not look gracious with its lack of overclocking capacity and the noisy cooler.

Bundle.

ASUS EN6600 256MB
In the box you will find a user's manual, CD with drivers, ASUSDVD, DVI-to-d-Sub adapter. Very moderate package contents.


Axle GeForce 6600GT AGP 128MB
In the box you will find a user's manual, CD with drivers, game – Soldier of Fortune II, DVI-to-d-Sub and HDTV adapters.


Galaxy GeForce 6600GT 128MB
In the box you will find a user's manual, CD with drivers, GunMetal, DVI-to-d-Sub and SVideo-to-RCA adapters.


Gigabyte GeForce 6200 128MB
This video card comes shipped as OEM. Its bundle includes a CD with drivers, DVI-to-d-Sub and HDTV adapters.


Gigabyte GeForce 6600GT AGP 128MB
The same bundle, plus SpellForce.


Leadtek WinFast PX6600GT Extreme 128MB
In the box you will find a user's manual, CD with drivers, WinDVD, PoP and SCPT, TV cord extensions, DVI-to-d-Sub and SVideo-to-HDTV adapters.


Palit GeForce 6600GT AGP 128MB
In the box you will find a user's manual, CD with drivers, WinDVD, Chaser and SpellForce, TV cord extensions, DVI-to-d-Sub and SVideo-to-HDTV adapters, a power cable splitter.


Prolink PixelView GeForce 6600GT AGP 128MB
In the box you will find a user's manual, CD with drivers, TV cord extensions, DVI-to-d-Sub and SVideo-to-HDTV adapters, a power cable splitter.




Let's have a look at the boxes.

ASUS EN6600 256MB

The box, made of thick glossy cardboard, as always depicts a computer user who seems to be deprived of the desired accelerator.




Axle GeForce 6600GT AGP 128MB

Nalu-styled box with a glossy cover accommodates a box of white thick cardboard. The card is packed in a thick porolon layer so it will definitely survive transportation.




Galaxy GeForce 6600GT 128MB

A small box of thick cardboard in monotonous design of this company. Nothing attractive.




Gigabyte GeForce 6200 128MB

No box.

-
Gigabyte GeForce 6600GT AGP 128MB

Glossy jacket with a box made of white millboard inside. All bundled elements are organized into cardboard sections, which is very convenient.




Leadtek WinFast PX6600GT Extreme 128MB

The box is made of millboard with the company's traditional design depicting fairy-tale heroes.




Palit GeForce 6600GT AGP 128MB

The same glossy jacket with a box made of white millboard inside. Bright but tasteless design.




Prolink PixelView GeForce 6600GT AGP 128MB

Brightly styled cardboard box. Everything is arranged in sections inside.






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 motherboard based on i925X
    • 1 GB DDR2 SDRAM 300MHz
    • HDD: WD Caviar SE WD1600JD 160GB SATA

  • Operating system: Windows XP SP2; DirectX 9.0c
  • Monitors: ViewSonic P810 (21") and Mitsubishi Diamond Pro 2070sb (21").
  • ATI drivers 6.497 (CATALYST 4.12beta); NVIDIA drivers 67.02.

VSync is disabled.

Now what concerns tweaking utilities. Video cards from ASUS, Gigabyte, Leadtek come shipped with their traditional and well-known utilities: SmartDoctor, V-tuner and WinFox. We reviewed them before (several times) and shall not repeat ourselves. The other companies haven't released their proprietary utilities.

Test results: performance comparison

We used the following test applications:

  • 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.

  • Half-Life2 (Valve/Sierra) – DirectX 9.0, demo (ixbt01, ixbt02, ixbt03 The tests were carried out with maximum quality, option -dxlevel 90, presets for video card types are removed from dxsupport.cfg.

  • FarCry 1.3 (Crytek/UbiSoft), DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, 3 demo from Research, Pier, Regulator levels (the game is started with -DEVMODE option), Very High test settings.

  • DOOM III (id Software/Activision) – OpenGL, multitexturing, test settings – High Quality (ANIS8x), demo ixbt1 (33MB!). We have a sample batch file to start the game automatically with increased speed and reduced jerking (precaching) d3auto.rar. (DO NOT BE AFRAID of the black screen after the first menu, that's how it should be! It will last 5-10 seconds and then the demo should start)

  • 3DMark05 (FutureMark) – DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, test settings – trilinear,

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

Performance



Conclusions

So:

  1. ASUS EN6600 256MB is a usual video card based on the reference design, its memory frequency is even a tad lower (500 MHz instead of 550 MHz). Moderate bundle. Everything will be up to the price. 2D quality in 1600x1200 at 85 Hz is satisfactory. 420/570 MHz overclocking.

  2. Axle GeForce 6600GT AGP 128MB makes a very good impression! Increased memory frequencies, well-designed cooling system, and quiet at that. Excellent overclocking capacities – 575/1220 MHz (though I repeat that overcloking depends on a given sample!). Besides, 2D quality in 1600x1200 at 85 Hz is excellent.

  3. Galaxy GeForce 6600GT 128MB is nothing special, it's a complete copy of the reference design, but the copper cooler and 1.6ns memory will attract overclockers. Besides, this sample got overclocked to 585/1250 MHz! 2D quality in 1600x1200 at 85 Hz is good.

  4. Gigabyte GeForce 6200 128MB is a regular product, there is nothing special about it. Very well built. 2D quality in 1600x1200 at 85 Hz is not very good, it's better to work at 75Hz. Overclocked to 410/580 MHz

  5. Gigabyte GeForce 6600GT AGP 128MB is a copy of the reference design, the card itself is not remarkable, but its memory frequency is raised from 900 to 1000 MHz. The bundle is average. 2D quality in 1600x1200 at 85 Hz is good. Overclocked to 570/1200 MHz

  6. Leadtek WinFast PX6600GT Extreme 128MB is also a copy of the reference design. 1.6ns memory as in the product from Galaxy. But its operating frequencies were raised INITIALLY, bear it in mind! The bundle is decent, but only for a 4-month old card. We rewarded for such bundles two times but now Prince of Persia is a game of the past as well as SCPT. It's time to update the package contents with more recent games. 2D quality in 1600x1200 at 85 Hz is good. Overclocked to 580/1260 MHz

  7. Palit GeForce 6600GT AGP 128MB has an original design, which offers more disadvantages than advantages. 520/1140 MHz overclocking is illustrative in itself, I think HSI cooling is not very good. 2D quality in 1600x1200 at 85 Hz is almost unsatisfactory, at 75 Hz it's good.

  8. Prolink PixelView GeForce 6600GT AGP 128MB is a copy of the reference design. The only difference from the reference card is the cooler that channels the heat from all the chips at once. The cooling system is quiet. Quite a good overclocking capacity – 575/1180 MHz. 2D quality in 1600x1200 at 85 Hz is excellent. A poor bundle is a disadvantage.

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








According to the test results, Axle GeForce 6600GT AGP 128MB gets the Original Design award (January).








Theoretical materials and reviews of video cards, which concern functional properties of the GPU ATI RADEON X800 (R420)/X850 (R480)/X700 (RV410) and NVIDIA GeForce 6800 (NV40/45)/6600 (NV43)



We express our thanks to ASUSTeK
for the provided EN6600 video card



Andrey Vorobiev (anvakams@ixbt.com)

February 4, 2005



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