When the 6600GT chip first came out it was a PCI-Express only type of thing. It had an amazing price but users who still have AGP motherboards were out of luck if they wanted to get one. XFX was one of the first manufacturers to put the 6600GT chip on an AGP 8X board by using a PCI-E to AGP bridge chip for users who are either stuck on AGP or don't have the money to upgrade. Today XFX has sent us one of their AGP 6600GT cards to put to the test and see if it's really worth it!
XFX is a division of PINE Group that specializes in video cards and motherboards. PINE is the leading technology company in Hong Kong founded in 1989 and listed on HKGEM board in 1999. It engages in the design, development and manufacture of high quality digital audio, video devices and computer peripherals. PINE also distributes branded computer and communications products. It has 16 sales branches around the globe, 4 R&D centers strategically located in Asia pacific region and 2 factories in China, covering over 50 countries with premier products and services.
In The Box:
(1) 6600GT Video Card
(2) DVI to VGA Adapters
(1) SVideo Extension Cable
(1) Installation Manual
(1) GeForce 6 Series Guide
(3) Full Version Games (X2:The Threat, Moto GP 2 and Commandos 3)
(1) Driver CD
Graphics controller: GEFORCE 6600 GT
Memory Configuration: 128MB DDR3
* Graphics Core: 256-bit
* Memory Interface: 128-bit
* Memory Data Rate: 1000 MHz
* RAMDACs: 400 MHz
* Dual DVI-Out digital output (for attaching LCD Monitors)
* DVI to VGA adapters included (for attaching analog CRT monitors)
* Dual DVI-Out for sharp LCD monitor output (DVI to VGA adapters included)
* Video out Module enabling big-screen gaming, digital time shifting VCR, and video-editing applications
The first feature that you will probably notice when you first take this card out of the package is the quite large and stylish Heat Sink Fan. The Heat Sink Fan on the AGP version of the 6600 is slightly rotated to make room for the extra heat sink that is used on the bridge chip. To simply explain the bridge chip; Nvidia doesn't make an actual AGP version of the 6600 chip, so when manufacturers use the 6600 chip on an AGP card they must use an extra chip to make it run with AGP.
One note about the fan, when reading the XFX support site there is a notice that all the new versions of this card ship with an upgraded fan for a 10-20 degree drop in temperature and some added noise reduction. Our card still featured the old style cooler but you can read the upgrade PDF here. The fact that XFX has chosen to make the fan change mid-production really shows their dedication to their slogan of "For Gamers, By Gamers" and when they see something that can be improved upon, they will do it! This is something I notice with good companies.
The PCB itself is a fancy blue/green colour which adds some extra eye candy to those with windowed cases. On the far back edge of the card you'll find a single molex plug. This is here because the newer video cards, mostly just 6 series and up, require more power than the AGP bus can supply so it must be connected to the power supply to obtain the power it requires to operate.
The memory on the 6600 GT is ultra-fast Samsung DDR3 modules. The memory interface on the 6600GT is half that of the 6800GT, the 6600GT having a 128bit memory bus. While on the topic of memory, one thing that really impressed me is the 1ghz (1000mhz) memory speed. When comparing memory speeds among other 6600GT AGP cards this card from XFX has the highest! I'll touch more on memory during the actual testing of the card. The actual chip itself is fabricated using a .11 micron process and has 8 pixel pipelines inside.
I was also happy to see that XFX included a nice game bundle with this card. Recently I have seen many companies giving next to or nothing at all for game bundles. XFX has chosen not to do that, including X2, Commandos 3 and Moto GP 2. Each is a very different type of game style and each features quite stunning graphics to put the cards processing power to good use!
Installation of this video card is quick, easy and follows along the lines of most other new video cards.
The first step is to make sure you have completely uninstalled your previous video card's drivers and remove that card.
Second step was to insert the 6600GT and make sure it is seated fully into the AGP slot. Last but not least, due to the power this card requires, you must plug in an available molex connector. One tip, it is best if the video card is the only thing running on the lead that comes out of the power supply to reduce interference (some power supplies have a completely separate shielded line which has the purpose of powering the video card only)
When plugging in your monitor you can either run dual DVI, or put one or both of the included DVI to VGA adapters on to be able to run non-digital monitors.
The first test I did was to run 3DMark 2003 and 3DMark 2005 and compare the results of the 6600GT to an FX5600 card which was the only other card I had on hand at the time. I ran the full benchmarks at 1024x768 and 1280x1024 as those are the two most common resolutions used by gamers. The 6600GT had stunning performance as is seen in the performance graphs below:
Gigabyte GA-7VRXP Rev.1.1 mobo
160GB Western Digital HDD
We also used the latest 71.84 drivers that can be found on Nvidia's Nzone
Click all images below to see the enlarged version:
As you can see, there is a HUGE leap from the performance of the 5600 to the 6600GT in 3DMark benchmark results.
The second test I did involved playing an assortment of games that are very 3D demanding to put the card to some first hand gaming use. I performed all the frame rate tests at a resolution of 1280x1024 because my research indicates that is the resolution most people with high end video cards prefer.
Battlefield 1942: 66
Doom III: 32
Moto GP 2: 60
Need For Speed Underground II: 30
These frame rates were also very impressive. One thing to keep in mind is that they WILL change from computer to computer. I'll personally say that the testing system I have here isn't the most powerful machine in the world, but either or, the performance still blows any other video card away!
Overall I was blown away with the XFX 6600GT AGP video card. It's performance is amazing, and looking at the price is even better! For under $300 Canadian you can get a killer video card that's due to last you a long time and satisfy all your high demand gaming needs!
Nice bundle of games included
Stylish look (for those with windowed cases)
Fast (1ghz) memory clock is faster than most other AGP 6600GT cards
I would have liked to see a 256bit memory interface like the 6800GT