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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  • Sunbird - Monday, October 11, 2004 - link

    Reply
  • bpt8056 - Monday, October 11, 2004 - link

    Anand, thanks so much for updating us on the PVP feature in the NV40. I think it's high-time somebody held nVidia accountable for a "broken" feature. Do you know if the PVP is working in the PCI-Express version (NV45)? Any information you can get would be great. Thanks Anand! Reply
  • mczak - Monday, October 11, 2004 - link

    That's an odd conclusion... "In most cases, the GeForce 6200 does significantly outperform the X300 and X600 Pro, its target competitors from ATI."
    But looking at the results, the X600Pro is _faster_ in 5 of 8 benchmarks (sometimes significantly), 2 are a draw, and only slower in 1 (DoomIII, by a significant margin). Not to disregard DoomIII, but if you base your conclusion entirely on that game alone why do you even bother with the other titles?
    I just can't see why that alone justifies "...overall, the 6200 takes the crown".

    There are some other odd comments as well, for instance at the Star Wars Battlefront performance: "The X300SE is basically too slow to play this game. There's nothing more to it. The X300 doesn't make it much better either." Compared to the 6200 which gets "An OK performer;..." but is actually (very slightly) slower than the X300?
    Reply
  • gordon151 - Monday, October 11, 2004 - link

    "In most cases, the GeForce 6200 does significantly outperform the X300 and X600 Pro, its target competitors from ATI."

    Eh, am I missing something or wasnt it the X600 Pro the card that significantly outperformed the 6200 in almost all areas with the exception of Doom3.
    Reply
  • dragonic - Monday, October 11, 2004 - link

    #6 Why would they drop it because the multiplayer framerate is locked? They benchmark using the single player, not the multiplayer Reply
  • DAPUNISHER - Monday, October 11, 2004 - link

    Thanks Anand! I've been on about the PVP problems with nV40 for months now, and have become increasing fustrated with the lack of information and/or progress by nV. Now that a major site is pursuing this with vigor I can at least take comfort in the knowledge that answers will be forthcoming one way or another!

    Again, thanks for making this issue a priority and emphatically stating you will get more information for us. It's nV vs Anand so "Rumble young man! Rumble!" :-)
    Reply
  • AlphaFox - Monday, October 11, 2004 - link

    if you ask me, all these low end cards are stupid if you have a PCIe motherboard.. who the heck would get one of these crappy cards if they spent all the money for a brand new PCIe computer??? these cards would be perfect for AGP as they are now going to start to be lower end.. Reply
  • ROcHE - Monday, October 11, 2004 - link

    How would a 9800 Pro do against these card? Reply
  • ViRGE - Monday, October 11, 2004 - link

    Unless LucasArts changes something Anand, you may want to drop the Battlefront test. With multiplayer, the framerate is locked to the tick rate(usually 20FPS), so its performance is nearly irrelivant.

    PS #1, he's talking about the full load graph, not the idle graph
    Reply
  • teng029 - Monday, October 11, 2004 - link

    "For example, the GeForce 6600 is supposed to have a street price of $149, but currently, it's selling for closer to $170. So, as the pricing changes, so does our recommendation."

    i have yet to see the 6600 anywhere. pricewatch only lists two aopen cards (both well over 200.00) it and newegg doesn't carry it. i'm curious as to where he got the 170.00 street price.
    Reply

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