NVIDIA’s GeForce 6600 GT AGP is the unquestioned price/performance leader at the $200 price point, there’s just nothing else out there that comes close to touching it in terms of speed or feature set at that price.
ATI’s closest equivalent for the moment is the RADEON 9800 PRO 128MB. In our GeForce 6600 GT AGP Performance Preview article, the GeForce 6600 GT AGP delivered nearly double the performance of RADEON 9800 PRO in many cases, and was even capable of outperforming ATI’s 256MB RADEON 9800 XT in numerous situations. ATI eventually plans to counter with their 12-pipe RADEON X800 card, however it will likely be months before AGP variants of these cards ever see the light of day (assuming if ATI doesn’t scrap their plans entirely).
So with this in mind, who takes the crown in our GeForce 6600 GT AGP roundup? BFG.
The BFG GeForce 6600 GT OC ships at the highest clock frequencies we’ve seen in a GeForce 6600 GT card. The graphics core is clocked at 525MHz, 25MHz faster than the other cards, while the memory also operates at 525MHz, a stratospheric 70MHz over stock GeForce 6600 GT AGP clocks. This allowed the BFG GeForce 6600 GT OC to sweep all of our performance tests, running faster than any other GeForce 6600 GT card we’ve tested.
BFG then adds a copper heatsink/fan unit for better cooling (which is important when your overclocked graphics card ships with a lifetime warranty), and dual DVI connectivity. The card doesn’t ship with a software bundle, but that’s because BFG has tailored the card for purists who just want the best hardware available, at the expense of extras such as game bundles. And of course, don’t forget BFG’s lifetime warranty on the GeForce 6600 GT OC. All this adds up to a product that not only finishes first in our roundup, but also takes home our Editor’s Choice Award as well.
The BFG card doesn’t win Editor’s Choice because it’s the fastest. It earns it because it delivers the best combination of features a hardcore gamer or hardware enthusiast would want in a GeForce 6600 GT AGP card: copper cooling that gets the job done and performs well, with dual DVI connectivity for those of you with two high-end flat panel displays. The overclocked clock speeds are merely icing on the cake as far as we’re concerned, after all most of our audience probably knows how to overclock their graphics card by now, and all of the cards in this roundup share the same core hardware components, right down to the same 2.0ns Samsung GDDR3 memory.
Tied for second (and rounding out the top three) are the MSI NX6600 GT and XFX GeForce 6600 GT. So why are both cards tied? Because each card caters to a different crowd.
On one hand the MSI NX6600GT ships with a large copper cooler that cools both the NV43 graphics core and its accompanying memory; it’s the only card to cool both components in this roundup. MSI also uses a quiet fan that’s barely audible, making it perfect for those of you who would like to build a near silent PC. MSI also includes the best software bundle around, with three modern games and a ton of additional software programs and utilities. Finally, MSI rounds out their NX6600GT card with the addition of video input capability (VIVO), it’s the only card in this roundup to support this feature.
On the other hand XFX’s GeForce 6600 GT provides more flexible display options thanks to its dual DVI connections. Previously dual DVI was a feature that was only found on $500 graphics cards; XFX has made a commitment to bring this feature to all of performance-oriented graphics cards, apparently including those in the mainstream segment such as the GeForce 6600 GT AGP. And of course, don’t forget that the card ships with its memory running at 500MHz; 50MHz higher than stock GeForce 6600 GT AGP cards.
Because of this, those that like the idea of dual DVI will likely opt for the XFX card, while enthusiasts that are hardcore about cooling will likely want the MSI card.
The ASUS, eVGA, and Leadtek cards are also fine GeForce 6600 GT AGP boards that will leave a wide smile on the face of any prospective owner, each of these three share their own unique set of traits. eVGA backs their cards up with solid support and competitive pricing, while the ASUS and Leadtek cards boast quiet cooling.
As far as our overclocking results are concerned, don’t make any purchasing decisions based on our results. We’re simply working with too small a sample of cards from each manufacturer, and besides, cooling is only half of the overclocking game, equally important is getting lucky and landing a card that overclocks well. We’ve seen plenty of cards with excellent cooling barely overclock beyond stock speeds, while cards based on the same chip with very basic reference coolers overclock like there’s no tomorrow. Typically chips from ATI and NVIDIA scale to higher clocks over time, as they get better at manufacturing a given graphics core with more experience (this is where refresh products like the RADEON 9800 XT/X850 XT, and GeForce FX 5950 come in) but there are exceptions: ultimately the GeForce4 Ti 4600 never really scaled well beyond 330MHz.
Right now AGP-based GeForce 6600 GT cards are selling for a little more than their $200 list price, but once more board partners bring their cards to market and supply catches up to demand, prices will quickly fall to the sub-$200 price point PCI Express-based GeForce 6600 GT cards are currently going for. When that happens, we expect sales will really pick up. NVIDIA has delivered a killer product with the GeForce 6600 GT, who would have thought a $200 mainstream card would be outperforming high-end $500 graphics cards like the RADEON 9800 XT a year ago? Good job NVIDIA!
Elemental: Fallen Enchantress Preview Elemental: Fallen Enchantress is a standalone expansion pack and follow-up to developer Stardock's previous game in the series, subtitled War of Magic. That 4X strategy game was highly-anticipated and slated to compete with games such as Sid Meier's Civilization V for your turn-based strategy play-time, but was released in an incredibly broken and unfinished state that it never fully recovered from. Lead designer Brad Wardell apologized profusely to fans and set out with his team to go back to the drawing board and try again.
Almost two years later, the result of that proverbial mulligan is currently undergoing closed beta testing. In today's article, Will reports his thoughts on how Fallen Enchantress is shaping up, and will tell you whether or not you should be keeping an eye on it as it nears release later this year.
The Elder Scrolls Online Details Leak - Should Fans Be Excited? The Elder Scrolls Online, long rumored to be in development, was officially announced yesterday. Still in development at Zenimax Online Studios, this MMO aims to combine traditional genre mechanics with the spirit and sensibilities, not to mention setting and lore, of the immensely popular series of single-player RPGs. Though the game is set for a full unveiling in the next issue of Game Informer magazine, what appears to be the entire cover story article has been leaked to the interwebs already. In today's article, you'll find summary and analysis of all the alleged details, as well as feast your eyes on the very first screenshots and concept art from the game. Of course, the burning question now is, should you be excited?
ANNO 2070 Review
The year is 2070. The majority of life on Earth was devastated when global sea levels surged after the melting of the polar ice caps. Swaths of previously habitable land are now deep underwater, and sovereign nations are a relic of the past. But there is still hope...
This city-building RTS/simulation game from Ubisoft tasks you with re-colonizing what little land areas are left on the planet following a global warming apocalypse. Does it have what it takes to be worthy of your time and money, or should it be cast out to sea with the rest of civilization? Find out in today's review!
Hear that? It's the sound of the largest computer chip manufacturer in the world churning out new processors to power your gaming rig. This week, Intel is launching their next generation of Core CPUs, code-named Ivy Bridge. Like last year's Sandy Bridge chips, they're low-power, quad-core powerhouses that also feature integrated graphics processors. Want to find out more? Maybe check out a whole bunch of performance benchmarks on both the CPU and graphics sides of things? Well you can, in today's review!
Intel Z77 Chipset & DZ77GA-70K Motherboard Overview
Looking forward to those new Ivy Bridge CPUs? In anticipation of their release later this month, Intel has already unveiled the new Series 7 chipsets designed especially to take advantage of what will be the 3rd-generation of Core processors. In today's article, we take a look at the architecture of the enthusiast variant, the Z77, and how it's used in the Intel Desktop Extreme DZ77GA-70K motherboard. Even if you're not particularly interested in the motherboard itself, you'll probably want to see some of the new features that come along with it, so read on!
Mass Effect 3 PC Review
This latest release from EA/BioWare is the final entry in their trilogy of sci-fi action RPGs, putting you in a dire situation: rally the troops to save Earth at all costs. There was a lot of hype surrounding the final act of what has been a vast and highly-customizable story-telling experience, and the reception among many hardcore fans has been less than stellar. Even people that haven't played the game have probably heard about all the nerd rage going on over Mass Effect 3's ending...
If you want to cut through all the crap and find out whether or not the rest of ME3 is worth playing, come check out Will's spoiler-free take on the first blockbuster game release of 2012.
Batman: Arkham City PC Review Batman: Arkham City is the sequel to 2009’s smash-hit action game Batman: Arkham Asylum. As the name suggests, you will be reprising your role as the Caped Crusader and going against an even larger 'prison' filled with Gotham's criminals and villains. A textbook example on how to do a proper sequel, Arkham City takes what worked in the original, excised or improved upon what didn’t, and elevated everything to an even greater scope. The PC version suffered from a few months of delay, but in that time, Rocksteady worked closely to NVIDIA to implement some familiar technologies from the last game, such as PhysX and 3D Vision, along with new DirectX 11 optimizations. But how well was the whole package executed? Read on to find out!
Saints Row: The Third PC Review Saints Row is one of most unique series of games to build upon the open-world action template forged by Grand Theft Auto, and has met with plenty of critical and commercial success since it began on consoles back in 2006. This latest iteration, titled Saints Row: The Third promises the most outlandish fun and freedom of customization of them all, and in a much more PC-friendly package than its predecessor. Does it live up to those expectations and, more importantly, is it worth the price of admission? Find out in Will's latest review!
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim PC Review The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is Bethesda Softworks’ latest offering in their series of epic fantasy RPGs, as well as one of the most highly-anticipated PC titles of 2011. As the Dovahkiin, or Dragonborn, prepare to take the fight to the mythical beasts that have returned to the realm after centuries of slumber, all the while exploring a huge and highly-detailed open world.
The PC version of the game promises enhanced graphical fidelity, standard RPG trimmings such as hotkeys and quick-save, as well as unbridled mod support, something we’ll all be thankful for once they release that SDK. Skyrim has already sold millions of copies and set records for play-time on Steam... Find out why in today's review, which happens to be one of the biggest and most in-depth articles on the subject out there!
L.A. Noire Complete Edition PC Review L.A. Noire, as the name clearly states, is a video game built on the tropes of one of the greatest periods of American cinema: film noir. Developed by the now defunct Australian developer Team Bondi and published by Rockstar Games, this title has been out on consoles for a full six months before finally making its way to the PC. This “Complete Edition” of the game features improved graphics, keyboard/mouse controls, and every bit of previously-released DLC for free. But was it truly worth the wait? Read on and find out!