The Contenders

When it comes to reviewing PCI Express graphics cards, our hands are a bit tied, since there are much fewer cards available in PCI Express versions as there are in AGP versions. So, our comparisons here are similarly constrained. That being said, we are able to develop some interesting comparisons, and here are the cards that we're featuring:

ATI's X300 and X300SE

These two cards are both 0.11-micron, 4 pipe versions of the RV360, making them perfect candidates for comparison to the GeForce 6200. The prices on these two cards are significantly lower than the MSRP of the upcoming 6200. Street prices on the 64-bit memory bus X300SE are around $75, while the 128-bit bus X300 (much like the 6200 that we're reviewing) is priced at around $100. Keep in mind that both of these cards are still old technology based on the same core as the Radeon 9600, and thus, will have a tough time competing against the 6200.

ATI' X600 Pro

Retailing for around $130, the X600 Pro was one of the first PCI Express cards to hit the market. It is basically a PCI Express version of the Radeon 9600 Pro, even down to using the same clock speeds.

ATI's X700

Recently, ATI released the X700 XT, a direct competitor to the GeForce 6600GT. Alongside the flagship announcement, ATI also introduced three other X700 parts, a 256MB X700 Pro, 128MB X700 Pro and a regular X700, the latter carrying an MSRP of $149. While the X700 isn't available yet, its clock speeds promise to make it a heavy hitter in the mid-range market. The X700 features an 8-pixel pipe design like the XT, but much lower clock speeds; with a 400MHz core clock and more importantly a 700MHz memory clock, the regular X700 allows board vendors to use much cheaper memory to drive the price down to $149.

NVIDIA's GeForce 6600

While the 6600GT received all the attention, the regular 6600 will find its way into more computers, thanks to lower prices. Specification-wise, the 6600 is identical to the 6600GT. It's still an 8-pipe 128-bit design, but as you can guess, it runs at much lower clock speeds. The 6600 runs at a 300MHz core clock, but what really kills it is the 500MHz memory clock. Not only does the regular X700 have a 100MHz core clock advantage, but an impressive 200MHz higher memory clock - the only advantage the 6600 has now is that it's actually available, albeit at clearly higher than its $149 MSRP. The card that we used in our tests was purchased from Newegg for $168.

NVIDIA's GeForce 6200

This is the card that's the focus of attention obviously. NVIDIA sent us a reference card that, unfortunately, used a fan. We were hoping that the 300MHz 0.11-micron GPU would feature a passively cooled design much like ATI's X300, but we were left disappointed with the initial reference design. There is hope, however. NVIDIA claims that a passive design is in the works and it should be possible; we tend to believe NVIDIA here, as the heatsink on their sample to us was about 3mm thick beneath the fan. There's clearly room for improvement there.

Intel's Graphics Media Accelerator 900

The new integrated graphics core from Intel found in the 915G chipsets was a must-include for this review, simply because we are comparing it to the slowest PCI Express graphics options available today. As we've already seen in previous articles, the 915G is far from a contender when it comes to gaming performance, but we'll see if it's able to scrape by at all in our tests.

NV4x’s Video Processor – What Happened? Power Consumption
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  • nvdm24 - Sunday, December 19, 2004 - link

    Many of the readers of these tech sites want to know the full capabilities of the cards, yet, sadly, reviewers at anandtech and every other tech site ignore the video capabilities of video cards. Even in the reviews for the new 6600 agp, the video aspect has not been tested by any reviewer despite the problems of the 6800. Never mind the fact that EVERY review of these cards is about the 3d aspect and is nearly the exact same - run halo, doom 3, hl 2, etc. and list the performance, yet no tests of dvd movies or the video aspect are conducted, thus doing a HUGE disservice to readers. Reply
  • nserra - Thursday, December 16, 2004 - link

    I dont understand why on you previous 6200 review the X300 wins, loses (Doom3), and keep up, but now a much worst 6200 wins over X300. How the hell did that hapen, new nvidia drivers? Reply
  • nserra - Thursday, December 16, 2004 - link

    I dont understand why on you previous 6200 review the X300 wins, loses (Doom3), and keep up, but now a much worst 6200 wins over X300. How the hell did that hapen, new nvidia drivers? Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Thursday, October 14, 2004 - link

    Surprisingly, my 865G with Intel Extreme Graphics 2 can run Doom 3 beta at default, it still crashes, but when I run it, I get barely playable frames, I say around 20 at the highest and less than 10. I think the GMA900 should be much better, but maybe the DX9 support in it really sucks. Reply
  • nserra - Wednesday, October 13, 2004 - link

    #39 Thanks to the answer, but...

    Doesnt 2 cards cost more then one?
    And whats the difference between having two 6600GT vs 6800GT? in price and performance?

    I think this kind of "edge" could come in the future like the voodoo2 did, the card was getting old, people getting rid of it and "some" get them cheap just to keep their PC the longger time they could.
    Reply
  • Confusednewbie1552 - Tuesday, October 12, 2004 - link

    #30

    Everyone wants 660GT because they are cheap and two of them can be put into SLI mode (once Nforce 4 comes out) which could mean better performance than the X700, and maybe even the X800.
    Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Tuesday, October 12, 2004 - link

    I'm sure the core of the 6600 will overclock very well, but the memory all depends on the particular chips used and might not have any real headroom. That could be its main problem as its an 8-pipe 300MHz core so theres plenty of power there, but only 128-bit 500MHz (effective) memory which is what is probably holding it back. If thats the case then overclocking the core may not help very much.

    Its a pity no attempt to overclock was performed in the review, but then again the results from overclocking cards sent out by the manufacturer are always suspect as they could have hand-picked the best.
    Reply
  • thebluesgnr - Tuesday, October 12, 2004 - link

    " I can't see how the 6200 could have a street-price of $149 (128-bit) and $129 (64-bit). "

    It's actually $129 for the 128MB 128-bit version and $149 for the 256MB 128-bit version. The 64-bit version (only 128MB) should have an MSRP of $100, according to the Inquirer.

    So nVidia has:
    $100 6200 128MB 64-bit
    $130 6200 128MB 128-bit
    $150 6200 256MB 128-bit
    $150 6600 128MB 128-bit
    $200 6600GT 128MB 128-bit

    In my opinion ATI beats all nVidia cards except for their $200, where the 6600GT wins. But we can't forget the 6600 has a great overclocking potential, and street prices should be lower than the X700's, because of the slower memory.
    Like already mentioned, you can find the 6600 for $135 already.
    Reply
  • mkruer - Tuesday, October 12, 2004 - link

    To X700 XT or to 9800 Pro, that is the question Reply
  • neo229 - Tuesday, October 12, 2004 - link

    I also wish to thank you for keeping up the fight to unravel the mystery behind the mysterious video processor. That notion of that feature really got me excited when I first heard about it, yet site after site after site reviewed these cards without even touching on the subject. Reply

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