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11 GeForce 6600 GT AGP / PCI-E roundup
by Marc Prieur
Published on February 18, 2005

Available since the end of last year (the AGP version was first released and the PCI Express followed several months later), sales of the GeForce 6600 GT have exploded. Of course, we already reviewed this chip in other articles, but we have never done a broad survey of the graphic cards available in stores. Here we took a look at eleven GeForce 6600 GT AGP and PCI- Express cards.

The GeForce 6600 GT
We already have gone into depth on the GeForce 6600 GT’s architecture, functions and performance in several articles:

- NVIDIA GeForce 6600 GT test
- NVIDIA GeForce 6600 GT AGP test
- Recap of ATI / NVIDIA graphic cards

Here is a brief summary to better understand the following tests. The GeForce 6600 GT is one of NVIDIA’s GeForce 6 masterpieces, which helped the manufacturer to get back on the scene after the rather problematic GeForce FX series. NVIDIA’s line of products consists of the:

- GeForce 6800 Ultra
- GeForce 6800 GT
- GeForce 6800
- GeForce 6800 LE
- GeForce 6600 GT
- GeForce 6600
- GeForce 6200
- GeForce 6200 TurboCache

The GeForce 6600 GT is sort of half a GeForce 6800 GT and, therefore, the numbers of pixel pipelines and vertex engines have been cut by in half from 16 to 8 and 6 to 3, respectively. Bus memory is also half at 128 bits instead of the 256 bits of the 6800 GT.

The 6600 GT has all the capabilities introduced with the GeForce 6 line. There is the Shader Model 3.0, which allows the creation of longer shaders and dynamic branching, as well as full FP16 format support to have more flexibility and efficiency in handling HDR type lighting. Finally, the 6600 GT has a PureVideo engine, which will take charge of Windows Media Video HD videos in semi hardware after a future update of Windows Media Player. The GeForce 6600 GT PCI Express also supports SLI. We must add that we haven’t been fully satisfied with this capability with this chip (see the SLI article above).

The 6600 GT works in PCI Express, but there is also an AGP version, released with an HIS (High Speed Interconnect) chip. This chip is located between the GPU and AGP slot and converts the AGP signal to PCI express and vice versa. In AGP and PCI Express it’s clocked at 500 MHZ as well as 500 MHz in memory in PCI Express and 450 MHz in AGP. (As the memory is of DDR type, two information transfers per clock cycle, some people incorrectly speak of 1000 and 900 MHz memory.) Unlike the PCI-E version, the 6600GT AGP needs an additional power supply connector. The AGP one only provides 40 watts to the graphic card instead of 75 of the PCI Express.

In practice, the 6600 GT turns out to be an excellent choice. The PCI Express version is faster than its competitor, the X700 Pro, and other faster graphic cards are much more expensive. In AGP, the Radeon 9800 Pro is a good challenger, because of a slightly inferior price, but it’s less efficient and includes fewer functions. The GeForce 6800 is little more expensive and efficient and is sometimes found for under 300€ / US$250 in stores.

With the GeForce 6600 GT it’s possible to play the latest and most powerful games such as Far Cry in 1280*1024, or in 1024*768 with a little anti aliasing and anisotropic filtering. For those who have an LCD with a resolution of 1600*1200 pixles or above, you should have a more powerful graphic card (a Radeon X800 XL or GeForce 6800 GT, for example) to play at this resolution and have a good framerate.

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