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Q4 2004 Performance Midrange GPU/VPU Shootout (PCIe)
By Vijay Anand
Category : Graphics
Published by Vijay Anand on Saturday, 25th December, 2004

The New Cards On The PCIe Block

With the availability of NVIDIA's nForce4 Media Communication Processor (MCP), the third generation I/O interface (PCI Express bus) has finally arrived on the AMD64 platform. This could probably be the first indicator of decline for the AGP bus in the DIY scene as the latest motherboards for both Intel and AMD CPUs now support the PCI Express bus. AGP will definitely linger around for a long time on millions of exiting PC systems, but PCI Express will gradually reign as the leading graphics card bus interface on new systems. That said, this is the perfect time for us to investigate a couple of PCI Express graphics card options for those integrating brand new systems.

In this article, we take a look at three of the latest midrange graphics cards from both ATI and NVIDIA. As much as we would like to cover the high-end options as well, they are still very limited in availability as the bulk of the manufactured quantity get consigned to the major OEM vendors. Therefore, we'll reserve the dearer options in a future article when availability has improved. Battling out in this shootout are ATI's RADEON X700 series versus NVIDIA's GeForce 6600 series. The table below lists the exact models available with regards to the target price category:-

Price Point Category NVIDIA ATI
US$249 Midrange Performance NVIDIA GeForce 6600 GT 256MB ATI RADEON X700 XT 256MB
US$199 Midrange Performance NVIDIA GeForce 6600 GT 128MB ATI RADEON X700 XT 128MB

US$149 - US$179 Midrange Entry Level NVIDIA GeForce 6600
128MB / 256MB
128MB / 256MB

We will solely be concentrating on the US$199 category because the options in the US$249 segment are severely restricted to less than a handful of vendors and the basic RADEON X700 isn't quite available at the point of writing this article for comparison. That leaves NVIDIA's GeForce 6600 GT 128MB to duel against both the RADEON X700 PRO 256MB and the RADEON X700 XT 128MB, which will be the highlight of this shootout. As per our previous GPU/VPU shootout, we'll establish some critical details of these graphics cards before we showcase the test results, which will be most beneficial in understanding the overall outcome.

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