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XFX GeForce 6600 XFX GeForce 6600: We look at a budget product from XFX that pretty much anyone can afford, but offers a little something extra.
Date: November 14, 2005
Written By: Huy Duong

High end video cards are not for everyone. As much as most gamers would love to get their hands on the latest and greatest from NVIDIA and ATI, the truth is most people probably have "real-life" commitments to deal with. Perhaps it's rent, or maybe a car payment, or most important of all, the need to eat. Dropping $1000 on a couple of SLI cards may not be feasible when cards costing much less may be suitable.

$200 to $400 may still be too rich for a lot of folks though, and believe it or not, there are a lot of people who have absolutely no desire in playing Battlefield 2 or Half-Life 2 at 1600x1200, 4xAA. Heck, there's a lot of people who don't play games period, so spending anything more than $100 would simply be insane.

Looking at the sub-$120 market, your pickings are pretty slim. Still, if your needs aren't extensive, there are a number of products that may look interesting. Integrated video (for those with truly budget systems) get the job done, they lack some features such as dual display, TV-Out and so forth. Basically, they will never be as fully featured, nor as fast as a discreet solution.

Today we'll be checking out the XFX GeForce 6600. Despite the low price point of , XFX gives a lot in the ways of extras that, at least on paper, make it an interesting investment.

XFX GeForce 6600

The XFX GeForce 6600 is what we would describe as being on the small side of things. While it is a full height PCI Express card (meaning slim cases are out of the question), it's small enough to fit into most ATX compliant setups.

The 6600 is one of NVIDIA's budget offerings (the 6200 is a step below it) in their GeForce 6 series. Their specifications call for a 350MHz core and 350MHz memory, but XFX ups the anté with an overclock of 50MHz for a 400MHz core. Shader Model 3.0 is supported, as well as SLI. As you may notice, there is no connector as we've seen with most SLI capable cards, but in this case, SLI is supported over the PCI Express bus, so there is no need for the connector.

Other than the card, XFX tosses in a S-Video cable, as well as two DVI-to-VGA adapters. In addition to a couple manuals and driver CD, XFX also includes a DVD version of Far Cry. Now, this isn't Call of Duty 2, but at least they included a game that is actually fun to play and still retails in the .

A small aluminum heatsink and fan takes care of the cooling on the card. No cooling is provided for the memory, which is to be expected at this price point. DDR2 is the memory of choice for the XFX 6600 and normally at this price point we'd expect no more than 128MB, but their card packs in a whopping 256MB! Like the GPU core, the memory is also overclocked 50Mhz and falls at 400MHz (800MHz DDR2).

For your input and output options, there is a S-Vid out, one DVI connection and one standard VGA for either legacy displays or for dual screen support. Considering this isn't the dual DVI model of the XFX 6600, we're not sure why XFX included two DVI-to-VGA adapters, as leaving one out may shave $5 off the total price for the consumer.

Test Setup

Pentium 4 560 (3.6GHz), Gigabyte GA-VT880 Combo, 2x1GB Corsair XMS2 PC6400, Seagate 160GB Barracuda 7200.7, Realtek onboard audio enabled.

We'll be pitting the XFX GeForce 6600 up against the ATI X600 Pro. We decided against using the X700 and 6600GT for two reasons: 1) Our publication deadline didn't allow us to attain the comparison cards on time, but more importantly for us; 2) This is a $100 battle. Our focus is to show what a hundred bucks will get you and the other two cards fall well above that.

Knowing there will be some limitations in performance at high resolution since we're using relatively "new" games, we opted for testing at 1024x768 and 1280x1024.

The games to be used for benchmarking are as follows:

Doom 3 v1.1

Battlefield 2

Far Cry v1.3

Unreal Tournament 2004 v3355

Half-Life 2

Chronicles of Riddick

's default timedemos were used for the majority of game testing. The driver settings were manually configured for AntiAliasing and Anisotropic Filtering enabled (2xAA and 8xAF respectively), and set to "Quality" via the video driver's control panel. All games were set to their highest allowable game settings unless otherwise noted. The latest chipset and video drivers at the time of testing (in parenthesis above) we used for the tests.

Doom 3

The competition isn't even close here as the XFX 6600 pretty much has its way with the X600 Pro in Doom 3. While the average framerates are displayed, Doom 3 was indeed very playable up to 1280x1024 with no AA or AF enabled. The game is so dark anyway, those IQ enhancements don't affect it that much visually.


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