NVIDIA has really turned it around lately with their GeForce 6 series. After a few scraps that had ATI being on top, the momentum is swinging back to them a little bit. The mid-range cards are the ones that really generate the revenue for companies and today we’re going to take a look at Leadtek’s version of the GF 6600GT in the WinFast PX6600 GT TDH
The WinFast PX6600 GT TDH
features the NV43 GPU and it’s built on the 0.11 micron process. Features of the chipset include 8 pixel pipelines with 3 vertex units. To help make up for the cut in pipelines, the card is clocked high at 500MHz for the GPU and 500MHz (1GHz DDR) for the memory. The potential memory bandwidth is 14. GB/s and the fill rate have a theoretical rate of 4 billion texels/s. Onboard is 128MB of memory. And since its part of the NV40 process, the card chipset has all the feature support that the higher end parts do. So, for example, if you want Shader Model 3.0 for an inexpensive price the GeForce 6600 series is the one to get. The WinFast PX6600 GT TDH
is a PCI-Express card so you’ll need a PCI-E capable motherboard to use this card. Fear not if you have an AGP motherboard as Leadtek does have an AGP version of this card and we do have it in our office but that will be a subject of a later article.
Physically, the card is one of the shorter ones that I’ve seen recently. Thank goodness as I was getting tired of these elongated cards. Leadtek seems to have done away with the mesh screen cooler, opting for an open fan design. Some people liked it, some don’t so those that hated the mesh screen will be happy to see it gone. Since the PCI-Express offers 75W of power, there is no external power connector in the PCI-E card. For those that are wanting SLI, the WinFast PX6600 GT TDH
features the capability to link two cards together. Finally, one VGA, one DVI, and one breakout box connector encompasses the connection options for this card.
Leadtek’s bundle has always been pretty good and they have enough software here to really bring this package up in value. You get a DVD player, Coloreal software, and two good games in Prince of Persia and Splinter Cell : Pandora Tomorrow.
Our test setup includes:
2 OCZ PC3200 256MB of ram
ATI Radeon 200P microATX motherboard
120 GIG Maxtor 7200RPM HD
Windows XP w/ Service Pack 2
For these tests, we are going to compare the card to the comparably priced ATI X700 Pro
. They both run in the $200 range and are marketed to the same demographic. We’re going to be running one synthetic benchmark with the rest being games. So let’s start of with Futuremark’s 3DMark05
is the only synthetic benchmark we are using today. From their website: It is the first benchmark to require a DirectX9.0 compliant hardware with support for Pixel Shaders 2.0 or higher! By combining high quality 3D tests, CPU tests, feature tests, image quality tools, and much more, 3DMark05 is a premium benchmark for evaluating the latest generation of gaming hardware.
In the 3DMark05 test, the WinFast PX6600 GT TDH
stays ahead of the comparable X700 Pro
from ATI but loses ground when we go into the higher resolution. Will the same trend translate to real games? Let’s see with our first test, Half-Life 2
This is the first card that we are using Half-Life 2
to test. The game should run faster on ATI hardware so I would suspect the Leadtek card to not win this test. Let’s see how it is:
Not surprisingly, the NVIDIA card falls behind on each test. As documented by other sites, the Source engine runs better on ATI hardware than NVIDIA but its’ still doing pretty well in trying to keep up.
iD’s latest, Doom 3
, pushes graphics cards to the limit. The game will even support cards with 512MB of ram when they are released. The dark atmosphere and smooth characters generate an incredible visual atmosphere that remind me of many horror movies.
While Half-Life 2
favors ATI cards, the engines from iD Software will favor the NVIDIA ones and this is evident in these tests. The WinFast PX6600 GT TDH
stays clear of the ATI card by atleast 7 fps in all resolutions. As more games using the Doom 3
engine are released, we’ll probably see the same result just like games using the Quake 3
engine favored the NVIDIA cards.Halo
is the Microsoft/Bungie/Gearbox first person shooter originally appearing on the Xbox. Featuring great graphics, vehicles, and good gameplay Halo
is ran with max settings as well with Pixel Shader 2.0.
Between the two card, the WinFast PX6600 GT TDH
comes out on top here in all tests and actually pulls ahead pretty good in higher resolutions. There’s a pretty nice performance gap between the two cards and it clearly shows the NVIDIA offering providing better Halo
performance in the mid-range level.Far Cry
is a first person shooter that delivers lush outdoor settings, fast action, and many vehicles for you to use. Discover a whole island and see out far into the distance as you encounter mercenaries and monsters.
The Leadtek card starts out behind but takes the lead as you move past 800x600. One you get past that, the lead switches and the WinFast PX6600 GT TDH
gets a 5+ frame per second lead on the ATI card.Unreal Tournament 2004
is one of my favorites. While it’s starting to get a little old, it still looks gorgeous and features great gameplay. This is what 2003 should’ve been and with the added Onslaught mode, the game’s one of the best LAN games out there right now.
In low resolutions, both cards perform just about the same. As with Far Cry
the Leadtek card starts to pull away with higher fps than the ATI card. The fact is though both cards run the game extremely fast in all resolutions.
Now let’s take a look at how the card scales when you start turning on anisotropic filtering and anti-aliasing. We’ll test Half-Life 2, Doom 3, Far Cry,
and Unreal Tournament 2004
. There’s one little interesting phenomenon that happens in the test that I will get to after the benchmarks are displayed.
In some tests, the speed at 1600x1200 is faster than at 1280x1024. Doing a little research, the site Overclocker Café
talks about how at 1600x1200, the card actually scales back to 4xAA because of the 128MB limit. The same thing happens in our tests so this pretty much confirms the anomaly.
If you’re looking to spend about $200 for a card and you are choosing between the ATI X700 Pro or the NVIDIA GF6600, you can’t lose with either. But my recommendation would probably be for the NVIDIA card because of SLI capabilities and support for Shader 3.0. Leadtek’s offering is solid and ran without a hitch through our testing. The change in HSF design should please some out there and it was a pretty quiet card. You get a pretty good bundle from Leadtek and in my testing, a solid card. We’ll be doing an SLI test here soon so be sure to stop back for that one.
It's hard to recommend any other card over this chipset if you are looking for a good mid-range card. Leadtek's bundle is pretty good and the change from the mesh screens should please others.