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Albatron Trinity 6600GT PCIe Albatron Trinity 6600GT PCIe: With the ability to SLI, the Trinity 6600GT might be your ticket for great gaming without breaking the bank.
Date: February 4, 2005
Manufacturer:
Written By:
Price:

Graphics cards for home PCs usually fit into three categories. At the top is the enthusiast gamer's card. These cards are the most expensive, the most powerful and usually laden with features (these days at least) and heavy duty cooling. Then we have the mainstream or midrange area, which offers you more than just desktop display capabilities and more often a hint of the power and speed of the top end but without the associated cost. And finally at the bottom end we have the budget line up which are usually designed for simple desktop display with the occasional game at reduced display enhancements.

From NVIDIA comes the 6600GT card which fits into the top edge of the midrange lineup. Of course this card has appeared when the keyword is PCIe and at first this card was only available in PCIe format. Now you can get an AGP version, but we are going to stick with the original iteration of PCIe in this review looking at take on the 6600GT card with their Trinity series.

Specifications

Memory Size: 128MB DDR III
Memory Bus: 128-bit

Engine Clock: 500MHz
RAMDAC: 400MHz
Max. Resolution: 2048x1536@85Hz
Bus Standard: PCI Express
VGA Output: Yes
TV Tuner: No
TV-out: Yes
VIVO (Video-in. Video Out): No
DVI: Yes
WINDVD: Yes
WIN DVR: No
WINDVD Creator: Yes
Power DVD: No
Power Director: No
3D GAMES: ARX Fatalis Game Pack

The box for the Albatron Trinity PC6600GT features a lot of foil embossed imagery of a sci fi babe, with the logo's and information panels arranged around her. The rear of the box has windows with pertinent information for the card inside in different languages. Opening the box, the first thing you will see is the card itself wrapped in a thick static protection bag and placed in shaped white foam.

Underneath the foam is the extra's that come with the card; 4 disks of software and a VIVO dongle with 5 ports (3 for HDTV). One thing I was surprised not to see is an S-Vid cable to go with the dongle, although generally speaking the ones that are included with cards are usually not very long and not of a high quality so not really a great loss.

The card itself is built upon a blue PCB which makes a change from the red that a lot of manufacturers choose. Copper ramsinks as well as a copper fan and heatsink assembly on the GPU provide the cooling for the PC6600GT. Sitting under the ramsinks is 2ns GDDR3 Ram. I'd like to be able to tell you who manufactured the ram and some more details, but those 'sinks are really stuck on well.

On the tail end of the card are the capacitors that regulate power and being a midrange card we have no extra power input. Opposite the PCIe interface is the SLI interface allowing you to connect to a second card and increase your performance on motherboards that cater for this.

The rear of the card is uneventful but does give you a clearer idea of the PCB colour.

The IO panel has a VIVO port, DVI port and a standard 15 pin D-Sub VGA port. Just of note here, the Albatron PC6600GT features not only an integrated TV encoder but also an integrated HDTV encoder, which could make this card quite attractive to the HTPC crowd.

Test Setup

Albatron PX925X Pro, Intel Pentium 4 520 (3.2GHz), 2 x 512MB Kingston HyperX PC2-5400 (4-4-4-12), 2x 80GB Maxtor 7200 SATA, Windows XP w/SP2, Forceware 66.93

We'll be using FRAPS to record framerates in all our tests, playing the game as anybody would (trying to stay alive), firing weapons, dodging attacks and so on. Unlike our past video game tests, all benchmarks will be done with the audio "on", as we're trying to illustrate real gaming experiences, and I doubt any of our readers mute the audio during gameplay.

Test Software will be:

Doom 3 - Making good use of the BFG, rocket launcher and plasma gun (the most graphically intense weapons), we'll be kicking ass on the Caverns Area 1 level, specifically the part right after reaching the bottom in the cargo lift.

Half Life 2 - can be very forgiving on hardware, or at least more forgiving than other modern games with the right settings. However when the action gets going and there is a lot on screen, it does help to have a bit of horsepower pushing the graphics. We ran through part of 'Follow Freeman', specifically the part as you exit the Combine building to take on the 3 striders.

Far Cry - featuring lots of outdoor areas with spectacular nature effects such as realistic water and beautiful vista's that all add up to a virtual landscape that stretches off into the distance. We ran through the Regulator level, specifically the part with the 'flying fox' lines with Far Cry at patch 1.3 and everything set to high.

Unreal Tournament 2004 - We loaded up CTF-Maul with 31 bots, everything set to highest levels and tested the gameplay.

Need For Speed: Underground 2 - NFSU2 features a lot of particle effects, fogging and reflective surfaces. We tricked an RX-8 and went for a blast around town awaiting the rain.

The driver settings were manually configured for Anti-Aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering (on or off), and set to "Quality". All games were set to their highest playable game settings unless otherwise stated. As a comparison, we used the HIS Excalibur X600XT.

Doom 3

We were limited to running at High Quality settings to get playable rates, which in actual fact is pretty high for a mid range 128MB card in Doom 3.

Albatron 6600GT
Min
Max
Avg
No AA/AF, 1280x1024
25
62
46.23
4xAA/4xAF, 1024x768
20
62
41.13

The Albatron PC6600GT, handles D3 very well indeed. The majority of the game played at 1024x768 runs at not much less than 60fps, although heavier texture areas do tend to slow it down. Add 4xAA and 4xAF to the mix and it does begin to churn a little, but due to the dark nature of the imagery on screen it's not too noticeable. The graph can be a little deceiving in this respect, but it's only in the heaviest of action that you notice the dips actually affecting gameplay. Another thing that is a side effect of the darkness in the game is that anti-aliasing isn't as important, allowing you to ramp up the resolution to 1280x1024 (No AA, No AF) and still get playable rates with a nice image. In Comparison with the X600XT however, another card that is aimed at the same market as the Albatron PC6600GT, you see a lot more dips in the graph. In all fairness, the X600XT is not much more than a 9600XT from the previous generation with a PCIe interface, and it has already been superseded, but the difference is almost half again in favour of the PC6600GT when it comes to frame rates which is a lot more than I expected.

Image Quality

1024x768, No AA, No AF

6600GT left, X600XT right

Image quality between the Albatron PC6600GT and the X600XT is pretty much the same, both are very good although I found the PC6600GT's image to be a little sharper (which I personally prefer anyway). You certainly wouldn't notice the differences while playing, except of course that the X600XT wouldn't run to well at these settings. Dropping it to 800x600 you may find playing with 2xAA and 4xAF OK on the X600XT, but the Albatron PC6600GT's 1024x768, 4xAA, 4xAF makes it a no brainer.

1024x768, 4xAA, 4xAF

6600GT left, X600XT right

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