nVidia SLI Technology - Action with the GeForce 6600GT
Recently we checked out the performance of two GeForce 6800 Ultra's in SLI and were very impressed with our findings. However, not everyone has well over a grand to spend on a graphics card setup. nVidia haven't forgotten about you as end-users still have the ability to "SLI" the cheaper GeForce 6600GT and that's exactly what we have served you up with in our latest look at nVidia SLI technology.
IntroductionThe other week we had a look at the performance that was on offer from the GeForce 6800 Ultra's in SLI. As we mentioned we were gong to have a look at the lower end of the spectrum with that being the 6600 GT and see exactly what was on offer from a cheaper card.In fact, the total cost of a pair of typical 6600GT's is a tad over $400 US while a single 6800 Ultra will cost you a little under $700 US and the lower clocked 6800GT will sting you a little over $500 US. It will be interesting to see what type of performance is on offer from the cheaper alternative in our set of benchmarks.We won't be looking at what SLI is or how it works due to the fact that we covered this quite deeply in our 6800 Ultra article entitled "nVidia SLI Technology - Introduction and 6800 Ultra Performance". You may be better off reading that article before you continue reading this one.While the general word around is that a SLI 6600GT setup isn't as good value as buying a 6800GT, if the thought of multiple graphics card in a single system and seeing four DVI ports on the back of your system when you turn it around excites you, then read on. The 6600GT is currently the entry level card for people wanting to enter the SLI market so let's see if it's worth spending your hard earned dollars on.
6600GT SLI - Benchmarks - Test System Setup and The Cards
Test System SetupProcessor(s): AMD Athlon 64 3800+ Motherboard(s): ASUS A8N-SLI Deluxe (Supplied by ASUS)Memory: 2 X 512MB OCZ PC3200 (2-2-2-5) (Supplied by OCZ Technology)Hard Disk(s): Western Digital Raptor 74GB 10,000 RPM SATA (Supplied by Western Digital)Operating System: Windows XP Professional SP1Drivers: nVidia Forceware 71.40 and DX9cWe will be running the exact same groups of tests as we ran when comparing the 6800 Ultra's. Using the ASUS A8N-SLI and 3800+ we will see just what we can do with the 6600s here. The two particular cards we are going to be looking at today are the ASUS 6600GT Extreme models which you can see below. We have had a look at the 6600GT performance when we were looking at the X850XT and X800XL from GeCube but today we want to simply know how one compares against two.
3DMark2001 SE is a part of the popular 3DMark series. By combining DirectX 8.1 support with completely new graphics (including the GeForce4), it continues to provide benchmark results that empower you to make informed hardware assessments.
While we can see a little increase in performance it isn't anything special. nVidia have mentioned that 3DMark2001 SE will not see any improvement so we aren't concerned about the slight performance increase offered here.
3DMark03 is the latest version of the highly favored 3DMark series. By combining full DirectX9.0 support with completely new tests and graphics, 3DMark03 continues the legacy of being industry standard benchmark.Please Note: Due to recent events with the 3DMark03 series, we are adding results purely for those who are still in favor of 3DMark03. These results should not be taken too seriously and are only added for interest sakes.
You can clearly see here that we have a nice performance increase from moving to the SLI setup.
3DMark05 is the latest version in the popular 3DMark "Gamers Benchmark" series. It includes a complete set of DX9 benchmarks which tests Shader Model 2.0 and higher. For more information on the 3DMark05 benchmark, we recommend you read our preview here.
Again we see an excellent performance increase and you can really see that moving to an SLI setup isn't a waste of money.
Doom 3 is the latest game to hit our test lab and is one of the most intensive games to dates. With our own custom time demo we are able to give a realistic rating on what kind of FPS you will be achieving.For more information on benchmarking Doom 3 we recommend you check out our extensive article regarding it here.
Again like 3DMark03 and 05 we see an excellent performance increase with it nearly being double at the lower resolution. The SLI 6600GT really gives us an extremely playable frame rate.
By taking the suspense, challenge and visceral charge of the original, and adding startling new realism and responsiveness, Half-Life 2 opens the door to a world where the player's presence affects everything around him, from the physical environment to the behaviors even the emotions of both friends and enemies. We benchmark Half Life 2 with our own custom timedemos as to avoid possible driver optimizations using the "record demo_name" command and loading the timedemo with the "timedemo demo_name" command - For a full list of the commands, click here.
Half Life 2 at the lower resolution really doesn't do much for us but when moving it to 1600 X 1200 we see another nice jump in performance.
6600GT SLI - Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF
High Quality AA and AFAll tests were run with 4 times FSAA and 16 times Antistrophic Filtering enabled with the screen resolution set to 1024 X 768.When running these aggressive detail settings in 1600 x 1200, games really do become unplayable and if people are after image quality they will have to drop the resolution back down to reach playable levels.1024x768 was chosen as it is still the preferred playable resolution with these settings enabled.
Like we saw when running without AA and AF, we see a nice little performance increase in 3DMark03.
Like 3DMark03 we see very similar results with the performance increase still being seen when turning on AA and AF.
While we don't see a 100% performance increase we are seeing almost 50% and at over 100FPS with these settings you really do see some excellent performance for your dollars.
While we saw no difference with AA and AF turned off when we turn it on at the lower resolution we do see a little difference.
PCMark is a multipurpose benchmark, suited for benchmarking all kinds of PCs, from laptops to workstations, as well as across multiple Windows operating systems. This easy-to-use benchmark makes professional strength benchmarking software available even to novice users. PCMark consists of a series of tests that represent common tasks in home and office programs. PCMark also covers many additional areas outside the scope of other MadOnion.com benchmarks.
Again here we see that the CPU isn't affected but the memory takes a slight hit.
6600GT SLI - Final Thoughts
Final Thoughts So there we have it - the budget end of the SLI spectrum - although while we use the word budget we are using it quite loosely as the SLI setup still isn't the cheapest setup around.The 6600GT is going to be a good option for people who want to upgrade their old graphics card today and look at having the ability to move to a second one at a later date so your computer can get a breath of fresh air.Like we mentioned in our 6800 Ultra article, SLI isn't for everyone as some people have problems justifying the cost of having to fork the money out for two graphics cards. You can see yourself that the performance offered by the multiple graphics card setup is excellent in most applications but unlike the 6800 Ultras we found some benchmarks getting closer to almost double the performance unlike the 6600GT's here today.If you can afford it we would recommend the 6800GT and later on you can then upgrade to another 6800GT. This is easier said then done though as the 6800GT is a more expensive card than the two 6600GT's (of course not taking into consideration an SLI motherboard which is more expensive than the regular nForce 4 Ultra) and some people will simply not be able to afford the upgrade.Not only looking at how both cards compare against each other, it is worth noting the scores the single 6600GT is capable of scoring. If you paid close attention you would have noticed that the results are far from poor and for people just wanting to upgrade their graphics card the 6600GT looks to be a good option in both AGP and PCIE.As far as the 6600GT's in SLI goes, nVidia may be fighting a battle against themselves since as we have mentioned you can pickup a 6800GT for a little more and it offers better performance but we still love SLI technology and if you do as well it might be enough to convince you to go down this path.
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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.
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