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XFX GeForce 6600 256MB DDR2 (PCIe)
By Vincent Chang
Category : Graphics
Published by Vijay Anand on Friday, 11th November, 2005
Rating : 4.5 out of 5 stars  


Timely Upgrade

ATI has finally played its cards (no pun intended) early last month but as we have mentioned before, getting your hands on the new Radeons at the day of launch may be more frustrating than the long delay. After a month since the launch, the situation seems to have improved slightly but with many vendors still yet to launch their versions, there is an opening for its rival, NVIDIA. It has to show that it has not been idling while ATI grabs the headlines. Hence, we have seen NVIDIA quickly retaliate with the launch of two new entrants to its existing GeForce 6 series to keep ATI in check. The first is the very attractively priced GeForce 6800 GS, which seems the perfect counter to the Radeon X1600 series. Our review of this card shows that its performance is close to a GeForce 6800 GT in many benchmarks despite its much lower price. The second is a card that we shall be looking at today, a new variant of the GeForce 6600.

While the original GeForce 6600 has been a rather popular card together with the slightly beefier GeForce 6600 GT in the mid-range market, the new Radeon X1300 PRO has shown that it is more than capable of matching the performance of the vanilla GeForce 6600. Therefore, NVIDIA has decided to give its SKU a much awaited upgrade to better compete with ATI's new generation. The core and architecture of the card remains the same, but everything else seems to have been revamped for the better. From the original 300MHz core clock, the new GeForce 6600 will now be clocked slightly higher at 350MHz. The memory parts see the most change with the initial 550MHz DDR1 memory now completely changed to an 800MHz DDR2 part. The lower cost of DDR2 memory and its much higher clock speeds probably influenced NVIDIA's decision. Also, the memory size has been doubled from 128MB to 256MB in the new GeForce 6600. From what we gather, this new GeForce 6600 DDR2 variant will co-exist alongside the original GeForce 6600 series for now. You may also know that MSI had previously introduced a Diamond edition of the GeForce 6600 , which had rather similar specifications, though with only 128MB of memory. A case of its vendors foreshadowing this move by NVIDIA perhaps?

With the new configuration, the GeForce 6600 DDR2 promises to match up to the challenge of the fledging Radeon X1300 series. Its technical specifications place it right in between the existing, older GeForce 6600 and the GeForce 6600 GT, a niche that is exploited now by the Radeon X1300 PRO. To see if the rejuvenated GeForce 6600 can stand up to its ATI rival, we have the XFX GeForce 6600 256MB DDR2 in our labs today, a card that has been overclocked by XFX as befitting the company's reputation for extreme graphics cards. Read on to find out if it's worth its salt.

XFX's unique and elaborate packaging comes with layers of cardboard and plastic before we could get our hands on the card. It certainly stands out from the usual rectangular boxes.

XFX GeForce 6600 256MB DDR2 Technical Specifications
Graphics Engine
  • NVIDIA GeForce 6600 GPU
    • Stock 3D GPU clock = 400MHz
    • 8 pixel rendering pipelines
    • 3 vertex pipelines (geometry engines)
    • 128-bit DDR2 memory controller
  • CineFX 3.0 Shading Engine
    • Vertex Shaders
      • Support for DX 9.0 Vertex Shader 3.0
      • Displacement Mapping
      • Vertex Frequency Stream Divider (Geometry Instancing)
      • Infinite length vertex programs (supported in hardware)
    • Pixel Shaders
      • Support for DX 9.0 Pixel Shader 3.0
      • Full pixel branching support
      • Multiple Render Targets (MRTs)
      • Infinite length pixel programs (supported in hardware)
    • Texturing Engine Features
      • Up to 16 textures per rendering pass
      • Support  for 16-bit and 32-bit floating point formats
      • Support for sRGB texture format for gamma textures
      • DirectX and S3TC texture compression
    • Full 128-bit FP Precision Graphics Pipeline
      • Native support for 32 / 64 / 128 bits per pixel rendering modes
  • UltraShadow II Technology (accelerates shadow computations)
  • Intellisample 3.0 Technology
    • 16x Anisotropic Filtering
    • Adaptive Texture Filtering
    • Rotated Grid Antialiasing
    • Fast antialiasing and compression performance
    • Loss-less Color, Texture and Z-Data Compression algorithms (in real time)
    • Fast Z-clear
    • High-resolution Compression Technology (HCT) increases performance at high resolutions.
  • Advanced Video and Display Functionality
    • Dedicated on-chip video processor
      • MPEG video encode and decode
      • WMV9 decode acceleration
      • Advanced adaptive de-interlacing
      • High quality video scaling and filtering
    • Integrated NTSC/PAL TV encoder support resolutions up to 1024x768 with built-in Macrovision copy protection
    • DVD and HDTV-ready MPEG-2 decoding up to 1920x1080i resolutions
    • Dual 400MHz RAMDACs that support resolutions of 2048x1536@85Hz
    • Dual DVO ports for interfacing external TMDS transmitters and external TV/HDTV encoder
    • Microsoft Video Mixing Renderer (VMR)
    • nView Multi-display Technology
  • Digital Vibrance Control (DVC) 3.0
  • NVIDIA High-Precision Dynamic-Range (HPDR) Technology
  • Advanced thermal monitoring and thermal management
Graphics Memory
  • 256MB Graphic DDR2 SDRAM
  • Default memory clock = 400MHz (800MHz DDR)
  • 128-bit memory interface
RAMDAC
  • Dual integrated 10-bit per channel 400 MHz DACs that support resolutions of 2048x1536@85Hz
  • Integrated 165 MHz TMDS transmitter (DVI 1.0 compliant and HDCP ready)
Connectors
  • 1 x analog VGA connector
  • 1 x DVI-I connector
  • 1 x mini-DIN connector
Drivers & Software
  • Driver support for Windows  98 / Me / 2000 / XP
  • FarCry
  • 3D Edit
Other Information
  • 16-lane PCI Express expansion slot required

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