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MSI NX6600GT-TD128E MSI NX6600GT-TD128E: Looking for a low priced gaming card? Want to move up to SLI eventually? Read on and see what we think of MSI's 6600GT.
Date: May 10, 2005
Manufacturer:
Written By:
Price:

SLI is becoming all the rage again. Originally SLI was a feature created by the now defunct 3Dfx that meant: "scan line interleaving". This technology allowed for two PCI Voodoo2's to be connected together to render alternate "scan lines" doubling rendering power in order to create a formidable gaming powerhouse. The basic concept being, "double the cards, double the framerate". The idea sounded great on paper, and worked well in practice. Although it didn't quite double the framerate, there was more than just a "tangible" difference between running a single Voodoo2 and two in SLI configuration. Dual Voodoo2's powered the gaming world for several years, and left a definite impact on the industry.

Even after the release of the TNT2, the SLI Voodoo2 was not far behind. Unfortunately only those with a large wallet could afford such expensive technology. NVIDIA now the legal owner of all of 3Dfx's former assets has put together a new form of SLI which now stands for: "scalable link interface". This new system also allows for two compatible cards to be attached together for gaming goodness. This time around it involves two PCI-E 16x cards that become bridged together. This new technology renders entire sections of the frame per card, and does not alternate scan lines like the original SLI technology did.

3Dfx's line of Voodoo2's only offered 2 flavors, 12mb and 8mb versions for a total of either 24mb or 16mb when combined with another of the same card. This posed several problems for many about the upgrade path they should choose. The price difference wasn't that far apart and even buying a single card was difficult for some of us, especially considering the fact that it also required a 2D card to attach the 3d cards to. But now NVIDIA has put together three different price points of cards that are compatible with SLI (for now), which could end up being even more in the future. There are the 6800Ultra, 6800GT, and the 6600GT. Now gamers that don't have a lot of money could consider buying a single 6600GT, and then later save up for buying a second, or those with a larger paycheck could opt for something much more powerful. The question then becomes whether or not it is worth getting two 6600GT's or simply save up for a single 6800Ultra or GT.

Today Viperlair looks at MSI's solution for the more budget minded with their PCI-E 128mb 6600GT card dubbed the: "NX6600GT-TD128E". This review will cover the NX6600GT in both single and paired up configuration (SLI).

Packaging, Box Contents, and Card Design

The MSI NX6600GT Comes in a standard glossy packaging that is sure to catch attention on the retail shelf. The reverse side shows the benefit of owning the card, and the software.

This is what the card looks like. MSI choose to use their standard red PCB and gold heatsink and fan which has been seen on their other cards in the FX series. This is nothing new to announce really. One of the things to note is the fact that the heatsink is able to be wiggled easily by simply applying alight amounts of force to either side of the heatsink, this didn't have any effect on stock operation of the card, but might hinder overclocking performance.

Other hardware included is the DVi to analog converter, an MSI sticker, the S-Video cable and various manuals on installation about SLI etc.

This card comes with tons of software which are (not in order)

" URU
" XIII
" Prince of Persia 3D
" 14 in 1 Games Collection (Demo)
" MSI Media Deluxe Center II release 2
" Virtual Drive 7 Professional Version
" Restore It 3 Professional Version
" Bundled MSI 5.1 Channel DVD Player
" Bundled Foreign Language Learning Machine
" Bundled MSI Super Pack
" MSI 3D Desktop
" Bundle MSI developed software

You can grab additional information as well as

The MSI NX6600GT is a native PCIe part, featuring the NV43 core clocked at 500MHz built on a 0.11 micron process. Shader Model 3.0 is fully supported with 8 pixel pipelines, and 3 vertex engines. There is 128MB of GDDR3, clocked at 500MHz (1GHz effective DDR) running on a 128-bit memory bus. The card fully supports SLI provided you have a SLI supported motherboard.

Test Setup

AMD 3500+ Winchester, MSI K8N SLI Ultra (nForce 6.53), MSI NX6600GT (71.84 drivers), 74.4GB Western Digital Raptor, Windows XP w/ SP2.

AMD 3500+ Winchester, MSI K8N SLI Ultra (nForce 6.53), 2x MSI NX6600GT (71.84 drivers), 74.4GB Western Digital Raptor, Windows XP w/ SP2.

Benchmarks:
Aquamark
3D Mark 01
3D Mark 03
3D Mark 05
Doom 3
FarCry
Half-Life 2
Quake III Arena
Unreal Tournament 2004

A Few Notes

Everyone wants to play with the eye candy on; I reviewed this card to show you where the sweet spot of graphic love and speed lies at with this particular piece of hardware. What's the point of new technology if you never use it? Therefore, on all the games I pumped them up to their maximum settings, and slapped on AntiAliasing and Anisotropic filtering for good measure. FRAPS was used to monitor all the action.

All of the tests are running with 16x Anisotropic filtering which is enabled through the drivers menu.

I wasn't able to overclock the cards this time around, and NVIDIA has already discussed this problem with their newest driver release (71.84) "that Coolbits does not allow for clockspeed increases". I will search around the web for alternate solutions, I've tried RivaTuner thus far to no avail (I think it goes through Coolbits as well.)

Synthetic Tests

These are just some basic tests that I use to get a general idea of where the card is at it terms of performance. I do not consider ANY of these tests to be the first and last benchmarks you should use to interpret possible game performance. I suggest using them for reference ONLY.

3d Mark 2001

NX6600GT Single
NX6600GT SLI
18598
20578

Only a 2000 point increase with a SLI setup here, not very noticeable.

3D Mark 2003

NX6600GT Single
NX6600GT SLI
6573
11187

In this test the score almost doubles because of SLI, a much better improvement than the 01 test.

3d Mark 2005

NX6600GT Single
NX6600GT SLI
2958
5239

This test also follows suit with the 03 test.

Aquamark

NX6600GT Single
NX6600GT SLI
CPU
GFX
CPU
GFX
10245
6843
9955
10551

Aquamark benefits only slightly from running SLI Something interesting to notice was that when using SLI the score on the CPU test dropped. This test was run several times to ensure that the numbers were correct. My assumption is that when scoring the system in SLI mode the benchmark becomes less CPU dependent and then because of that gives the CPU a lower score. If you have any information about this, feel free to drop us a line.

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