Today, we'll be covering the performance of 11 different vendor's versions of the Geforce 6600GT. When that many of the same part get into the same room at the same time, you know that we're going to have a good cross-section of what the market should look like. If you're interested in buying a 6600GT, then this is the article for you.

Not only will we see what all these different vendors have to offer to you as a customer, but we will really see how hard the NV43 can be pushed, pulled, and stretched when it hits your system. We don't usually like to test overclocking on a large scale with the engineering sample parts that NVIDIA and ATI send us just after a product launch. These test samples are often just strung together by the skin of their IHV's proverbial teeth. It's not uncommon to see wires, resistors, and capacitors soldered onto an early PCB. We're actually lucky that these things work at all in some cases. We received an overclocked 6800 Ultra Extreme from NVIDIA that never booted, as well as an NV41 that was DOA. These preproduction boards are not the kind of boards that we would actually buy and use in our home systems.

And so, when an incredible number of vendors responded to our call for parts, we were very happy. Shipping parts means that we have what the end user will have. Heat tests, noise tests, overclocking tests - they all become very relevant and interesting. We will be looking at which vendors offer the best products to the consumer. Cards will be judged based on their idle and load thermal diode temperatures, the sound pressure level in dB of the system at a one meter distance, overclockability, features, bundle, and price.

We do spend a lot of time looking at the benchmarks of these cards at overclocked speeds, but these benchmarks aren't the "be all, end all" judge of what vendor makes a better card. First of all, the potential of any given ASIC to achieve a certain overclock is not something over which a vendor can have any power, unless they bin their chips and sell a special line of overclocker friendly cards (or, more likely, pre-overclocked cards). None of these 6600GTs fall into that category. This means that our BrandX card running at a certain speed doesn't guarantee anything about yours.

Overclocking tests are still important, as they assure that the cards which do achieve a high stable clock are able to support a GPU that is capable of running at a high speed. Some boards are not. It's just more of an art than a science sometimes and these numbers shouldn't be used as an absolute metric.

Heat management is especially important when overclocking. With a new breed of game on store shelves, such as Doom 3, Half-Life 2, and the onslaught of titles that will surely be based on their engines, GPU temperatures have no where to go but up. Increasing the core clock speed will help performance, but in our tests, it also raised maximum load temperature by a degree or two. The more a graphics card maker can do to keep heat down, the better. And that will be especially tricky with these cards once they've been in end users' hands for a while. Allow me to explain.

The way that the cooling solution attaches to NVIDIA's reference design is with 2 holes. Basically, the popular rectangular heatsink design is positioned precariously on top of the GPU and can pivot easily around the ASIC. This means: don't touch the heatsink. This really causes problems in situations where the thermal tape or glue is used. The kind of fulcrum that the NVIDIA reference design created is beyond powerful enough to tear through tape and snap the strongest glue without a second thought. Once those seals have been broken, cooling is severely compromised. Looking back at our numbers, this may be the reason why we see some of the extreme temperature numbers that we do. Of course, we were extraordinarily careful to avoid touching any HSFs after we realized what was going on.

Overclocking our Geforce 6600GTs
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • arswihart - Friday, December 10, 2004 - link

    my mistake, didn't actually read some of the article
  • bbomb - Friday, December 10, 2004 - link

    #20 Derek said that Pine = XFX so he did review the card with the buy me link.
  • arswihart - Friday, December 10, 2004 - link

    #21 - i guess thats what arctic cooling is for...

    speaking of which, its good to see some makers adopting similar hsf designs to the arctic coolers, except for the part about shunting the air directly out of the case

    I just saw that asus does have a 6600gt coming, and it has a very arctic cooling-esque design which I like, also, I think the albatron in this round-up has some semblance as well, too bad its fan is so loud
  • mindless1 - Friday, December 10, 2004 - link

    I agree, the heatsinks (and particularly fans) are disappointing. If they just abandoned the idea of the fansink only taking up one slot-height they'd have a lot more freedom to improve things (like fan thickness, which could combat noise AND longevity). It might even be better to prevent someone from sandwiching another card in next to the video anyway, taking up more than one slot thickness could be a positive thing all around. Not that it would "need" be two slots thick, but even an extra 5mm is a lot on such a thin 'sink.
  • arswihart - Friday, December 10, 2004 - link

    the leadtek has just looked like a solid card since i first saw it, I'm not surprised by the results, this card is clearly the best of all in this roundup

    #6 - I agree that most of the other HSF's look really cheap, especially the Chaintech, Galaxy, Gigabyte, Inno3d, and MSI just from eye-balling them.

    #10 - nice point, Anand, why do you even include these deals on the review pages? I can only assume its basically an ad that the company is paying for, and you are half-way endorsing the product, and in this case, not even reviewing it as we meanwhile read about 11 other competing cards

    overall, these cards look pretty cheap, I think the quality control issues highlight this

    anyone know if asus or abit plans to make 6600gt's (or any other manufacturer)?
  • Filibuster - Friday, December 10, 2004 - link

    Thanks for the info Derek!
  • ocyl - Friday, December 10, 2004 - link

    Derek > This is a follow-up to my post at #16. I have done a quick research, and here is a simple comparison chart of video-in implementations of these cards.

    Albatron PC6600GTV/PC6600GT: Yes/No (not sure which one was tested)

    Chaintech SE6600G: No

    Galaxy GF6600GT: No

    Gigabyte GV-NX66T128D/GV-NX66256D: No/No (Did Gigabyte send you a NX66256D? I don't know if they've got a wrong picture on their website but it looks like they may have sent you an overclocked 6600 instead of a real 6600GT).

    Inno3D GeForce 6600 GT: No

    Leadtek WinFast PX6600 GT TDH: No

    MSI NX6600GT-VTD128E/NX6600GT-TD128E: Yes/No (not sure which one was tested)

    Palit GeForce 6600GT: No

    Prolink PV-N43E(128LD): No

    Sparkle SP-PX43GVH/SP-PX43GDH: Yes/No (not sure which one was tested)

    XFX PVT43GNDD7: No

    In terms of full product lines (6600 series PCI Express + AGP), MSI has 4 out of 8 cards featuring video-in, followed by Sparkle (1 out of 4) and Albatron (1 out of 8).

  • DerekWilson - Friday, December 10, 2004 - link

    I would like to appologize -- Galaxy just informed me that they are, in fact, shipping their 6600gts at 525/550 ...

    this modest overclock comes basically free to the end users -- this gets them an editors choice award as no other vendor has shipped with a default core oc.
  • ocyl - Friday, December 10, 2004 - link

    Derek > Thank you for paying attention to the noise issue in the report. It will be great if we can also see a discussion/comparison of VIVO implementation (or lack thereof) in the future since video processing is now a built-in feature of the GPU :)
  • DerekWilson - Friday, December 10, 2004 - link

    Yes, I oc'd myself ... but i'd like to know where i said clock stock so i can fix it ;-)

    Trogdor -- 3 mount points would have worked fine. there aren't any larger images... that was a mistake -- I appologize.

    redavnl -- Pine is XFX

    Fillibuster -- high quality for doom 3, and the gigabyte card may be called 6600 series, but it is a 6600 gt (clocked at 500/500 with sli)

    Pete -- as always, thanks for the constructive feedback. i've altered the sound bits to reflect 6db to 10db being a double in perceived volume. I knew 3db was the power doubling point not perception, i was just overclocking myself too much that night :-) ...

    we stick to 1M distances for a few logistic reasons. after this article: it was pointed out to us that a 5 cm distance skews the results because of things like turbulance from the fan. talking to some audio engineers, it seems measuring the spl level of a system at 1 meter is pretty standard.

    we do actually measure with no case. It does acutally sit on a desk on a layer of foam, though any sound deadening is secondary. I don't think I have any cases in my lab.

    We'll continue to look into the sound issue, but I wouldn't think having a box literally 12 inches from your ear is a commonly possible thing (i can't even get my monitor 12 inches from my eyes). I could see 5 decimeters maybe ...

    we will continue to look into the spl issue.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now