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Gigabyte GeForce 6600

Gigabyte GeForce 6600

Supplied by Gigabyte


The nVIDIA 6600 GPU launched just prior to the end of 2004. Gigabyte’s nVIDIA Ge Force 6600 (GV-NX66128D) competes in this arena as one of the most inexpensive of the 6600 series. The Gigabyte nVIDIA GeForce 6600 rings in at just under $130 which is highly affordable for those wanting a budget conscious PCI-Express video card. There is a lot of discussion on the Internet about the 6600 series from nVIDIA but who is discussing and why?

box_ws

The Gigabyte GeForce 6600 NX66128D video card is built on nVIDIA’s NV43 core which uses a 128 bit memory controller and 128 mb of onboard memory. The GPU clock ticks in at 300 MHz and an effective memory clock of 550 MHz (276 MHz DDR). Most buyers lose interest from here. The jumble of specifications and marketing monikers leave most in awe yet totally bewildered. Terms like UltraShadowII and shader models baffle consumers. The key question is usually pretty straight-forward; how does it play games?

It’s assumable that, in most cases, new technology is better. Better because engineers have figured out a way for the graphics card to process more information at a higher rate thus increasing the resolution and details of a game but the downside to that may be cost. High-end video cards do not come cheap. Engineers may also have dreamed up technology that allows for game details and resolution to compete with a high-end product two or 3 generations back and do so at a substantially less than high-end price.

The driving force behind video card technology are games. It’s no secret and definitely not a revelation. Computer users upgrade video cards to be able to play newer games or games at a higher detail and resolution. Their upgrade desire for horsepower typically meets and equal and opposite force which is budget. That’s why there are so many models on the market at different price points. If $200 is out of a buyer’s budget then there’s an "almost as good" model at $150 and if $150 is pushing it then there’s another at $130. The same works in reverse with the next model up at just a few dollars more thus the buyer can be talked into investing just another $20 or $40 more.

Isn’t marketing a wonderful trap?

So the Gigabyte GV-NX66128D is a budget video card then why the discussion about the 6600 series? One answer is to look beyond the immediate attraction of decent game performance at a highly affordable price tag to what users are starting to look at using cards like the Gigabyte 6600 series for.

First step is to look at the NX66128D itself.

card_ws

Specifications

Video Adapter nVIDIA GeForce 6600
GPU Code Name NV43
Transistors 143 million
Process Technology 0.11u
Memory Size 128 MB
GPU Clock 299 MHz
RAMDAC Clock 400 MHz
Pixel Pipelines 8
TMU Per Pipeline 1
Vertex Shaders 3 (v3.0)
Pixel Shaders 1 (v3.0)
DirectX Hardware Support DirectX v9.0c
Pixel Fillrate 2392 MPixel/s
Texel Fillrate

2392 MTexel/s

Real Clock 276 MHz (DDR)
Effective Clock 552 MHz
Bandwidth 8832 MB/s

CineFX 3.0 Shading Architecture

  • Vertex Shaders
    • Support for Microsoft DirectX 9.0 Vertex Shader 3.0
    • Displacement mapping
    • Geometry instancing
    • Infinite length vertex programs
  • Pixel Shaders
    • Support for DirectX 9.0 Pixel Shader 3.0
    • Full pixel branching support
    • Support for Multiple Render Targets (MRTs)
    • Infinite length pixel programs
  • Next-Generation Texture Engine
    • Up to 16 textures per rendering pass
    • Support for 16-bit floating point format and 32-bit floating point format
    • Support for non-power of two textures
    • Support for sRGB texture format for gamma textures
    • DirectX and S3TC texture compression
    • Full 128-bit studio-quality floating point precision through the entire rendering pipeline with native hardware support for 32bpp, 64bpp, and 128bpp rendering modes

64-Bit Texture Filtering and Blending

  • Full floating point support throughout entire pipeline
  • Floating point filtering improves the quality of images in motion
  • Floating point texturing drives new levels of clarity and image detail
  • Floating point frame buffer blending gives detail to special effects like motion blur and explosions

Intellisample 3.0 Technology

  • Advanced 16x anisotropic filtering
  • Blistering-fast antialiasing and compression performance
  • New rotated-grid antialiasing removes jagged edges for incredible edge quality
  • Support for advanced lossless compression algorithms for color, texture, and z-data at even higher resolutions and frame rates
  • Fast z-clear
  • High-resolution compression technology (HCT) increases performance at higher resolutions through advances in compression technology

UltraShadow II Technology

  • Designed to enhance the performance of shadow-intensive games, like id Software’s Doom 3

TurboCache Technology

  • Shares the capacity and bandwidth of dedicated video memory and dynamically available system memory for optimal system performance.

PureVideo Technology

  • Adaptable programmable video processor
  • MPEG video encode and decode
  • High-definition MPEG-2 hardware acceleration
  • High-quality video scaling and filtering
  • DVD and HDTV-ready MPEG-2 decoding up to 1920x1080i resolutions
  • Dual integrated 400 MHz RAMDACs for display resolutions up to and including 2048 × 1536 at 85Hz
  • Display gamma correction
  • Microsoft® Video Mixing Renderer (VMR) supports multiple video windows with full video quality and features in each window

Advanced Display Functionality

  • Dual integrated 400MHz RAMDACs for display resolutions up to and including 2048×1536 at 85hz
  • Dual DVO ports for interfacing to external TMDS transmitters and external TV encoders
  • Full NVIDIA® nView™ multi-display technology capability

Advanced Engineering

  • Designed for PCI Express x16
  • Support for AGP 8X including Fast Writes and sideband addressing
  • Designed for high-speed GDDR3 memory
  • Advanced thermal management and thermal monitoring

NVIDIA® Digital Vibrance Control™ (DVC) 3.0

  • DVC color controls
  • DVC image sharpening controls

Operating Systems

  • Windows XP
  • Windows ME
  • Windows 2000
  • Windows 9X
  • Macintosh OS, including OS X
  • Linux

API Support

  • Complete DirectX support, including the latest version of Microsoft DirectX 9.0 Shader Model 3.0
  • Full OpenGL support, including OpenGL 2.0

GeForce 6 Series GPU Features Comparison

A consumer may compare price first. Presently 6200 series cards range from $60 to $100 USD. 6600 series cards from $125 to $250 and 6800 series weigh in at $300 to $400 USD. These prices will change as time goes by and newer products are introduced. SLI or Scalable Link Interface is ability to make two video cards work together to provide a performance boost. This requires an SLI motherboard and while two video cards may not double the performance they will double the price. The NX166128D has no SLI interface therefore the GT model is the next option up for SLI. There’s also a lot of buzz about GDDR3 memory which was, funny enough, developed by JEDEC in collaboration with nVIDIA’s competitor, ATI. GDDR3 memory has many technical advantages. In layman’s terms GDDR3 potentially assists in the process of better and faster requiring less power. Unfortunately the NX-66128D model doesn’t have GDDR3. The next model up, the GT version, has GDDR3.

Again…don’t you love marketing?

Feature GeForce 6800
Models
GeForce 6600
Models
GeForce 6200
Models
GeForce 6200
w/Turbocache
Microsoft® DirectX® 9.0 SM 3.0 SM 3.0 SM 3.0 SM 3.0
Graphics Bus Technology AGP 8X/PCI Express AGP 8X/PCI Express AGP 8X/PCI Express PCI Express
NVIDIA® Intellisample™ Technology 3.0 3.0 3.0 *+ 3.0 *+
NVIDIA® SLI™ Technology X * X * n/a n/a
NVIDIA® PureVideo™ Technology X *** X *** X *** X ***
NVIDIA® TurboCache™ Technology n/a n/a n/a X ****
64-bit Texture Filtering and Bending X X n/a n/a
Effective Memory Interface 256-bit 128-bit 128-bit 128/64-bit
Memory GDDR3 ** and DDR GDDR3 ** and DDR DDR DDR
Process 0.13 micron 0.11 micron 0.11 micron 0.11 micron
RAMDACs 400 MHz 400 MHz 400 MHz 400 MHz

*+ GeForce 6200 models do not include compression technology.
* NVIDIA SLI: Available on SLI-certified versions of GeForce 6800 Ultra, 6800 GT, 6800, 6800 LE, and 6600 GT PCI Express GPUs only.
*** Features may vary by product.  Some features may require additional software.
**** Available on select GeForce 6200 models only.
** GDDR3 – GeForce 6800 Ultra, 6800 GT, and 6600 GT only.

 

Gigabyte GeForce 6600 Series Product Comparison

The 6600 series from Gigabyte have similar technology and features. The major differences lie in GPU and memory speed, SLI capability and additional game software.

Model

GV-NX66T256D

GV-NX66T128D

GV-NX66128D

VPU

NVIDIA GeForce

6600GT

NVIDIA GeForce

6600GT

NVIDIA GeForce

6600

GPU Clock

500 MHz

500 MHz

300 MHz

Effective Memory Clock

1000 MHz

1000 MHz

550 MHz

Memory size

256MB DDR III

128MB DDR III

128MB DDR I

Interface

PCI-express

PCI-express

PCI-express

Pipelines

8

8

8

Direct X

9.0C

9.0C

9.0C

I/O

DVI-I,D-SUB, TV-OUT

DVI-I,D-SUB, TV-OUT

DVI-I,D-SUB, TV-OUT

Twin View

YES

YES

YES

RAMDAC(MHz)

400

400

400

H/W Monitor

NO

NO

NO

Overclocking

Application

V-TUNER2

V-TUNER2

V-TUNER2

HDTV

YES

YES

YES

SLI

YES

YES

NO

Bundled

Software

  • PowerDVD 5.0
  • DOOM3
  • PowerDVD 5.0
  • Thief
  • Joint Operations: Typhoon Rising
  • PowerDVD 5.0
  • Thief

What’s inside the box

box_ws

The Gigabyte GV-NX66128D box contains, of course, the video card with twinview support via DVI and VGA heads. Missing is the necessity to provide additional power to the card from the system PSU.

card_angle

card_ws_back

The actively cooled heatsink is not of any notable design but it is nice to see that even budget cards are actively cooled.

gpu_heatsink

gpu_heatsink_exposed

The manual provides the bare minimum of information to get a user up and running.

manual

The GV-NX66128D package came with the installation disc with V-Tuner 2 and a VGA bios flash utility. PowerDVD 5.0 is also included.

cd_install

Two games were included; Thief and a game for the Asian language market.

cd_game_thief

cd_game

A VGA to DVI connector is included.

dvi_adapter

And finally what the buzz is surrounding the 6600 series; the breakout cable. It’s not the breakout cable that is gaining hype but what it supports. HDTV is a word that is being tossed about like crazed Bass fisherman going after a 10 million dollar prize.

breakout

Popular discussion has it that the 6600 series is gaining notoriety and respect for its picture quality on HD capable sets. We cannot prove or disprove this without access to proper laboratory testing equipment but here are a few thoughts to keep in mind.

  • The term "High Definition" is tossed about consumers like a fishing lure. All sets may be HD CAPABLE but not necessarily TRUE high definition. Ensure that the display device natively supports the 720P or 1080i resolution you are seeking.
  • The video card resolution should not exceed the maximum resolution of the display device.

    XGA is 1024×768 pixels resolution, WXGA is 1280×768 SXGA+ is 1280×1024, UXGA is 1600×1200 and WSXGA+ is

    1366×768. There also are the 16:9 variants.

  • As discussions are searched on the Internet about picture quality and the 6600 series be sure to understand what source image (WMV, DVD, etc) is being discussed in order to fully comprehend the pros and cons.

Benchmarks.

The test systems.

  • AMD Athlon 64 4000+ Processor (32-bit mode)
  • MSI K8T Neo2 MS-6702E ver 1 ATX mainboard
  • Gigabyte GA-K8N Ultra SLI motherboard
  • ATI 9800 PRO 256 MB Video Card Catalyst 4.9 drivers (Default settings)
  • Gigabyte ATI X800 AGP Video Card Catalyst 5.3 drivers
  • Sapphire Radeon X800 PCI-Express Video Card
  • Gigabyte GV-NX66128D Video Card
  • 2 x 512 MB Corsair CM512-3200XL TwinX DDR RAM
  • LG 8x DVD+/-RW.
  • 120 GB Seagate SATA Hard Drive
  • Samsung 950p 19″ Monitors
  • Generic keyboard and mouse
  • Retail HSF
  • AMK PC67 PC case (window, fans, cables, loom)
  • FSP Blue Storm PSU
  • Windows XP Professional Service Pack SP2 slipstreamed updated

Programs used

*benchmarked using Benchemall.

Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2, Post SP2 updates, WMP 10 and SATA drivers slipstreamed was used for operating system installation. Catalyst settings: let application decide for Anti-Aliasing/Anisotropic filtering, quality texture preference, quality midimap detail level, no smartshader or truform. AGP aperture was set to match RAM size on video card. NVIDIA display settings were set to quality. Windows visual effects was set to ADJUST FOR BEST PERFORMANCE and system restore set to disabled. Pagefile set to 1024 MB fixed on a separate partition.

Individual performance will vary with any particular or specific timings or tweaks enabled by you. All programs were benchmarked with initial monitor settings at 1024×768@75Hz. Your own mileage may very.

3DMark 2003

3D Mark 2003 was originally designed to measure performance specifically in
shader-heavy titles.

3dmark_03

3DMark 2005

3D Mark 2005 takes advantage of more DirectX 9 functionality that many new game titles are using.

3dmark_05

Aquamark3

Aquamark3 is a benchmark from Massive Development. For the most part
it is a DirectX 8.1 benchmark though it is run with DirectX 9.0c installed. Four
measurement sets were used. The first has high and low detail with Anti Aliasing
and Anisotropic filtering turned off. The second has high and low detail with
Anti-Aliasing (6x) and Anisotropic filtering (16x) set at max. (Note: the Sapphire PCI-E X800 didn’t show up for Aquamark tests due to driver problems.)

aquamark_oolow

aquamark_oohigh

aquamark_616low

aquamark_616high

Quake III high quality

Quake III still continues to hang around. This benchmark is one that
most can’t just let go of and it retains grandfather rights in the community.
Many of today’s games are based upon the Quake engine. The accuracy of this benchmark is becoming questionable with frame rates consistently around or over 300.

quake

Serious Sam

Serious Sam uses OPENGL.

sam

UT2003 Flyby

ut_2003

UT2004 Benchmark

ut_2004

Wolfenstein Enemy Territory: Railgun timedemo

Wolfenstein Enemy Territory uses an improved version of the heavily
modified Quake III engine from Return to Castle Wolfenstein. The Railgun time
demo results were recorded.

wolf

X2 Rolling Demo

X2 – The Threat is a teaser with a benchmark option for Egosoft’s
upcoming release. It does not use pixel shaders.

x2

SplinterCell (Chinese Embassy Timedemo)

Splinter Cell is a DirectX 8.1 based game that is involves very GPU-intensive texture rendering.

splinter_cell

Sisoft Sandra 2004

sandra_math

sandra_multi

sandra_memory

NBench-3

nbench3

Specviewperf 8.0

SpecviewPerf measures the rendering performance of systems
running under OPENGL incorporating eight standard SPECopc applications viewsets:

  • 3dsmax-03 , based on SPECapc for 3ds max 3.1 configured with the Open GL driver; includes three models containing an average of 1.5 million vertices each, and tests performance of scenes with different levels of lighting.
  • catia-01, based on Dassault’s CATIA, with models containing up to two million vertices.
  • ensight-01 , based on CEI’s EnSight engineering and scientific visualization application, covers both display-list and immediate-mode workloads.
  • light-07 , based on traces of Discreet’s Lightscape radiosity application.
  • maya-01 , based on traces of Alias’ Maya 5.
  • proe-03 , based on SPECapc for Pro/ENGINEER 2001, measures two models in three modes — shaded, wireframe and hidden-line removal (HLR).
  • sw-01 , based traces of the Solidworks 2004 application from Dassault Systemes.
  • ugs-04 , based on SPECapc for Unigraphics V17, tests performance based on an engine model containing 4.1 million vertices.

specview

The following two tests are targeted mainly towards CPU performance and will
show if any “flaws” are in board design affecting the ability of the
CPU to crunch through the data. While in render mode the two test programs virtually
bypass ram and GPU.

Adobe After Effects 6.0

Adobe After Effects is a tool to produce motion
graphics and visual effects for film, video, multimedia and the web. It is primarily
a 2D application using imported graphics or digital footage or self generated
effects. A test project was created combining many video footage
files, resizing and rasterizing effects, text animations and multiple layer
effects. This “average” combination was felt to best demonstrate advantages
and/or disadvantages that a real world user may experience rather than isolating
and benchmarking a particular effect.

There is no official benchmark for After Effects
but render tasks can be timed to show specific results. Rendering, or the task of building
and compiling frames, is primarily CPU intensive and After Effects generally bypasses
the video card to rely solely upon the processor for speed. The time taken
to a render 900 frame Quicktime 720×486 movie file (animation codec, millions of colors, best quality) shows how fast the processor is working on the
given task.

aefx

Benchmark Conclusions and Overclocking

The Gigabyte GV-NX66128D trails it’s more powerful cousins as expected but puts in a good show for Aquamark, Quake and Wolfenstein. Specview tests are considered too extreme to be taken seriously. The most likely explanation is the drivers not implementing the entire benchmark scenes thus causing inflated scores. Surprising is the reduced memory bandwidth on the SLI board. The opposite would be expected. It’s time to look for new RAM which is a good recommendation for anyone wanting to squeeze out a bit of extra performance.

Overall the GV-NX66128D put in an admirable show against its competition especially when the competition costs 3 and 4 times as much. Overclocking the GV-NX66128 produced jaw-dropping results.

The VTUnerII in the included Gigabyte software produced stock settings of 299 MHz GPU core and 551 (276 DDR) Memory clock.

tuner_01

It was totally unbelievable after 3 tries that the card held at a staggering overclock.

tuner_02

The GPU core clock was nearly doubled and the memory clock was increased by a full third. Everest Home Edition confirmed the results and take a look at the bandwidth increase.

  Default Overclocked
GPU Clock 299 MHz 552 MHz
RAMDAC Clock 400 MHz 400 MHz
Real Clock 276 MHz (DDR) 401 MHz (DDR)
Effective Clock 552 MHz 803 MHz
Bandwidth 8832 MB/s 12848 MB/s
Pixel Fillrate 2392 MPixel/s 4416 MPixel/s
Texel Fillrate 2392 MTexel/s 4416 MTexel/s

Sadly it didn’t hold but an equally satisfying overclock was achieved for a set of 3D Mark 05 benchmarks.

tuner_03

The display suffered a few distortions but the benchmarks ran stable. Yes that is a 200 MHz increase on GPU core clock and a 250 MHz (125 DDR) increase on memory clock.

3dmark_05_oc

The overclocked state decimates a 9800 PRO AGP at lower screen resolutions getting near equal as the resolution increases. The Gigabyte GV-NX66128D challenges the Sapphire X800 at lower screen resolutions coming four fifths of the way to equal.

Conclusion

gpu_heatsink_02

Gigabyte’s nVIDIA GeForce 6600 (GV-NX66128D) brings PCI-Express technology to the desktop on a mere budget of $130 USD. The NX66128D offers SVIDEO output and component output (split from SVIDEO port) via a breakout cable. The buzz around the nVIDIA 6600 series seems to be it’s greatly improved picture quality for high definition capable TVs. The Gigabyte NX66128D would then serve the HTPC market quite well by delivering acceptable game performance and desktop/"TV top" picture quality on a very reasonable budget.

card_angle

The Gigabyte GeForce 6600 NX66128D is a budget card and it’s stripped of its SLI capability and lacks the newer GDDR3 memory. Don’t get too caught up in the high definition hype. A simple bit of research may solve a lot of questions. The marketing pressure for consumers to purchase media center PCs will only increase. The Gigabyte GeForce 6600 NX66128D delivered an impressive overclock but at its upper limit falls short of matching an ATI 9800 PRO 256 MB AGP video card that is nearly twice the price. The Gigabyte GeForce 6600 NX66128D does have the latest game support technology which further enhances the experience. Reviews appear to favor the 6600 series of video cards.

It’s important to ask questions of the most important person before buying. That’s true with all product purchases and the most important person is yourself. What do you need the product for? How long do you want to use it for and what do you expect of it? Answering these questions is a good beginning to making the correct choices.

box_ws

Our thanks to Gigabyte for
their support of this and many other sites.

 

Highs

  • Inexpensive
  • Latest game technology support
  • HDTV support
  • Good overclocking
  • Meant for a casual gamer

Lows

  • Not meant as a performance gaming card

Scores Breakdown
Attribute Score Comments
Bonus items & software 8 It came with more than other more expensive video cards have.
Overclocking features 9 V-Tuner2 is simple and it works which is an improvement over other Gigabyte overclocking tools.
Performance & stability 8.5 Product was stable through all tests.
Presentation 7.5 Not quite sure about the soft pastels on the box. It’s a bit feminine.
Price / value 9 A very good product for the price. Good HTPC card if you are looking at delivering desktop to the HDTV. Meant for a casual gamer.
Total score 42/50 84%

Comments

  1. Unregistered
    Unregistered :((((( why u go and do that? made me cry too! i wanted buy giga gforce 6200 and now u say 6600 is bare medium? wahhhhhhhhhhhhh! u make me cry! what will i do? i want play imperial glory and best games! eeeeeeeeeeeeeewy! i cry...

    kimu!

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