TABLE OF CONTENTS
Any IT branch has its highs and lows as well as protracted periods of slow evolutional changes. The same applies to 3D graphics. Rapid highs in 2004 ended in slow evolutional addons. Only Canadian ATI made a final lunge in DirectX 9.0c graphics with SM 3.0, having launched RADEON X1xxx.
What next? There will be nothing new in terms of technologies up to DirectX 10 (it will appear only in the end of 2006). We've reached maximum. Indeed, it's true for Hi-End series. Now the companies plan to correct all drawbacks, cure drivers from old diseases, etc. By the way, NVIDIA had better improve the long-standing problem with low quality of filtering by default - a number of useful optimizations are disabled in the drivers when you switch to High Quality. It's high time to separate the husk from the grain.
So, if the field of the most expensive and the most powerful accelerators still registers some movements, everything is clear in Middle End, all the niches are occupied. As for now, only a pale release of the X1600 series from ATI added something new and formed new competition (though these cards are still scarce on the market).
That's why manufacturers are seeking ways to attract attention to traditional GeForce 6600/6600GT. One of such solutions is to install fanless cooling systems not only on the less powerful 6600, but even on the 6600GT.
Today we are going to review one of such cards from Gigabyte. We'll also review a new card based on RADEON X1800 XL, though it features nothing new - just a reference card.
Everything is clear about the X1800 XL, I guess: the card is manufactured by ATI's order. That is it's a reference card, all partners just label such products with their own stickers.
What concerns the GeForce 6600GT Silent, I intentionally compared the design of this card with the GeForce 6600 DDR2. Their designs are evidently identical. This is not as good as it seems. First of all, because it uses the same memory (as in the 6600 DDR2), operating at just 400 MHz instead of 500 MHz. I don't understand why a new cooling system was not installed on the regular 6600GT with GDDR3 memory not to break the nominal operating mode? The core operates at the standard frequency of 500 MHz anyway.
There is an evident explanation here: 256 MB of memory! The standard 6600GT design provides for 128 MB only. So either to create a new 6600GT design (ASUS actually did it easily) supporting 256MB GDDR3 or to use the 6600 DDR2 design, since the reference design is already available. Engineers have chosen the second option. They still didn't risk installing DDR2 2.0ns that gets heated so much to get 500 MHz, this design does not support it.
The cooling system on this card can be seen well on the above photos, including the collage. It's a usual double device (two heatsinks connected with heat pipes) - we have seen a similar design many times. But in this case, it's reinforced with another heatsink, which can channel the heat outside a PC case (there are tabs, though quite symbolic due to the lack of fans). It's installed next to the output jacks. Nevertheless, if a PC case is blown through well, this cooler gets much more efficient.
But the X1800 XL sticks to the standards: a closed heatsink with a fan shifted to the left that drives the air through the housing above the processor. The rotational speed of the fan varies from 2000 to 3500 rpm, it's driver-controlled depending on the heating (you can also control it via RivaTuner 15.8).
Even though the device is obviously thin, this is hardly a good solution, as the fan periodically changes its rotational speed under 3D load (the effect of overheating), which is not at all comfortable for your ears. The cooler also has a copper heatsink in a housing, but in this case the turbine drives the air in the opposite direction — inside the system unit. That's all right for a lower-clocked core, but I think that the overall temperature of the card is still rather high.
That's a description of the reference cooler, but this Gigabyte card has got an absolutely identical model, there is just a sticker from this company on top.
Note that the X1800XL is equipped with two DVI connectors, while the 6600GT has d-Sub and DVI. You can also see that the first card is equipped with RAGE Theater coder, thus the device supports VIVO. This is not the case with the 6600GT.
Installation and Drivers
VSync is disabled.
A few words on overclocking. Here are the frequencies we managed to get:
Test results: performance comparison
We used the following test applications:
Summary performance diagrams for PCI-Express video cards
You can find more detailed comparisons of various video cards in our 3Digest.
Gigabyte GeForce 6600GT Silent PCI-E 256MB DDR2 gets the Original Design award (December).
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)
Andrey Vorobiev (email@example.com)
December 28, 2005.
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