Despite the recent tidal wave of GeForce 7800GTX graphics cards that have been rolling out at £400 a pop, we all know that the man in the street has a more modest budget at his disposal. While it’s tempting to buy a GeForce 6600 for under £100, the 6600GT gives far better performance than the basic model.
Leadtek will sell you a WinFast 6600GT TDH for about £120 with a core speed of 500MHz and 128MB of speedy DDR3 memory that runs at an effective speed of 1GHz. Stretch your budget just a little and you can get the Extreme version which has a core speed of 550MHz and memory that runs at 1.12GHz out of the box, and which has the SLI connector so you can gang up two of the suckers if you feel the need for more performance. The heatsink and fan unit covers the GPU but not the memory, and is a little larger than the norm yet is very quiet in operation.
We tested the PX6600GT TDH Extreme on an MSI K8N Diamond motherboard with an Athlon 64 3800+ and 1GB of Corsair PC3200 memory, starting with 3DMark05 where we saw a score of 3,899 on standard settings. Moving on we ran the Doom 3 time demo on high quality settings with the resolution set to 1,024×768 and got a frame rate of 57.1fps. Turning on 4x Anti Aliasing dropped the frame rate to 43.8fps, which is a little on the low side but still quite playable.
We were impressed by this level of performance but we hoped that there might be a bit more to come so we installed the WinFox 2.0 utility that Leadtek supplies. This is a fairly horrible piece of software forces you to you mess around with two sliders to manipulate the speed of the core and memory.
Try as we might we couldn’t get the Extreme to run any faster so we installed the nVidia Coolbits registry update and investigated the clock settings within the Forceware drivers. These revealed that no overclocking is possible, so it is clear that Leadtek supplies the Extreme with the BIOS set to the optimal timings.
If Leadtek supplied this graphics card in a bare OEM package we would be happy that the price was quite fair, but in fact it supplies a few extras on top. There’s a DVI to VGA adapter, as you would expect, as well as a TV-Out cable that splits to give S-Video as well as RGB connections, and you also get a decent software package. In addition to the WinFox 2.0 utility there’s WinFast DVD, WinFast PVR, Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow and Prince of Persia Warrior Within.
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