Previously, we reviewed
Leadtek’s WinFast PX6600 GT TDH
. It was a great card for the mid-range area and is SLI capable. Well what about us AGP folks who don’t want to upgrade just yet? NVIDIA hasn’t left you out in the dust as they have an AGP version of the card and that’s what we have today.
The WinFast A6600 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 450MHz (900GHz DDR) for the memory. It’s a slight change from the PCI-E version where it was 500MHz for the memory. The potential memory bandwidth is 14. GB/s and the fill rate have a theoretical rate of 4 billion texels/s. 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 card’s length is equal to that of the PCI-E version and that makes it a short card. 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. The move to AGP also forces the card to have an external power supply connection because the AGP port doesn’t supply enough power to the card. Finally, one VGA, one DVI, and one breakout box connector encompasses the connection options for this card.
NVIDIA developed a PCI-E to AGP bridge so that they could use the same technology from the PCI-E incarnation with an AGP interface. As you can see from picture, there’s a heatsink attached to the bridge. The bridge technology will allow NVIDIA to turn any native PCI-E card into AGP variants so until we all move to PCI-E, you’ll probably be seeing new cards from them using the bridge.
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.
For the test system, we are going to focus on how fast it is compared to the PCI-E part. Using the 66.93 drivers, we ran the same tests on both systems. I'm going to let the benchmarks run through without much commentary but you'll find the speed of the AGP version will be a little less than the PCI-E card from Leadtek.
Our test system includes:
2 - 258MB OCZ Ram
120 GIG Maxtor 7200 RPM HD
Windows XP w/ Service Pack 23DMark05
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
An instant classic, Half-Life 2 is one of the best games I’ve played and features some great visuals. The Source engine was engineered with ATI in mind and the game runs very well on ATI hardware but NVIDIA cards aren't a slouch when running the game.
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.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.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. 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.
As stated earlier, the decrease in memory speed has knocked the card down a little but not that much. The performance is pretty close in all stages and you'd probably see no difference when compared to the PCI-E card.
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 (http://www.overclockercafe.com/Articles/NVidia_6600GT/NVidia_Anomaly.htm) 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.
One of the things I used this card for that I highly recommend is being the main video card in a home theater PC unit. Switching from an ATI X800 Pro
to this card and using NVIDIA's DVD decoder, the picture quality on my TV was amazing. Whenever a few of my friends with HTPC units come to see my HTPC unit with the NVIDIA card, they always comment on how much better it looks. We all have the same hardware except for the video card and the WinFast A6600 GT
really excels in this application. The only things I'd like to change would be to try and put a more silent or heatpipe cooling solution on the card.
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. AGP users that aren't taking the leap to PCI-E in a while should really consider this card. It's too bad there aren't any AGP SLI capabilities but that shouldn't deter you from considering this card for a mid-range box. And even though it's slightly slower than the PCI-E version, the card still has great performance for the price. The A6600 GT TDH
is a plain GF6600 card but it's solid and a good buy.
The Leadtek WinFast A6600 GT TDH is a great card and only loses a little speed from the switch to AGP and a lowering of the memory speed. And if you're looking for a good Media Center card, this one is the one to get as well.