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Mainstream PCI Express Shootout - Radeon X700PRO vs. GeForce 6600GT - nVidia 6600GT - The Card and SLI

What will be going on your Christmas wish list to send to Santa Claus in the North Pole this year - ATI Radeon X700PRO or nVidia GeForce 6600GT? Today we are comparing both mainstream PCI Express graphics cards to work out which one should find its way into your stocking this year in our usual array of benchmarks. If you're on the market for a new graphics cards and Santa can't afford a high-end card, one of these cards is your next best bet!

By: | NVIDIA GeForce GPU in Video Cards | Posted: Dec 2, 2004 5:00 am

The Card



There is no denying that one of the most exciting aspects of the whole 6600 and 6800 series of cards it the ability to start using the SLI option, which we wrote about here in detail some months ago now. What is SLI some may ask...those people don't deserve to own a computer, we say.


SLI (then known as Scan Line Interleave) was probably one of the coolest innovations in computer technology for anyone who loved their computer gaming back in the 3DFX days. SLI (now known as Scalable Link Interface) gives you the ability to combine two graphics cards together to make what most people would call a very fast setup - each graphics card is in charge of rendering the graphics either (usually) for the top or bottom part of the screen.


Throughout the entire AGP phase we never once saw a SLI setup due to no motherboards ever supporting the ability to use multiple AGP slots. The Voodoo 2 SLI compatibility was made possible thanks to the integration of multiple PCI slots something, which was something very common on most motherboards but with nVidia making a very big splash in the AMD chipset market it was time for them to give rebirth to the modified SLI system with multiple PCI-E slots.


We won't go into too much detail on the aspects of SLI as we hope to have our own setup here soon to give you a complete run down on the technology behind it. Unfortunately though only a few other websites have been given the ability to run comparisons on this new technology.



When looking at the card you can see the PCI-E connector at the bottom and another connecter up the top. The top connector is used for SLI, only nVidia cards with this connector will be able to utilize the SLI function. At the moment you connect both cards using a small piece of solid PCB but apparently nVidia are considering changing this to a ribbon cable which is more user friendly and less breakable.



The 6600GT is a smaller card which is going to make people wanting to go for the nVidia option for a small form factor system - and not only is it smaller but it also only takes the single PCI Express slot with the cooler not rolling over to a PCI slot. With this said though we do recommend that you try and leave a space of one PCI slot for cooling so not only this card but any card can get adequate air flow to it.



Thanks to the power of PCI Express (like the ATI X700PRO) we don't need an external power connector so there won't be any need for people to have to worry about their computer not having a massive 450Watt + power supply.


While we can't guarantee the same components being used on the retail version of the card, the 6600GT from nVidia which we have in our hands comes with standard with 2NS DDR3 Samsung memory. The clock speed for the reference 6600GT is a little higher than the X700PRO as it is really set to compete against the higher clocked X700XT. For starters the memory clock is set to 500MHz (or 1GHz DDR) which is 68MHz faster than the ATI competition (and 25MHz slower than the X700XT) and the core clock speed is set to 500MHz as well which is 80MHz quicker than the X700PRO and just 25MHz faster than the X700XT.



You can see that nVidia are not cooling the memory and the main reason for this is due to the fact that the DDR3 doesn't get affected by the heat as much as older type memory. Even the top-end cards (such as the X800XT and 6800 Ultra) don't cool both sides of the memory and only cover the one side due to the fact that the larger heatsink is used so the GPU heat can be dissipated better.


Now we've finished taking a closer look at both cards, let's see what happens when we throw them into the ring together.




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