XFX GeForce 6600 256 MB gDDR2A mid-range performing graphics card for a budget price.
The quest for graphics performance versus image quality versus your money. It's a paradox isn't it ? Manufacturer "A" delivers a product, manufacturer "B" releases a new product to counteract manufacturer "A's" product after which manufacturer "B" will match that product. Oh hi everyone, my mind was wondering off for a second there. Just before I started writing this article I was thinking how incredibly many products are released based on the same chip. In this case, the GeForce series 6.
I think it was December 2004 that we tested the last 6600 model, I'm not talking about the GT version here, no, the pure 6600 model. After dozens of 6600 reviews I promised there'd be NO MORE 6600 reviews as there was a severe overload of 6600 articles on our website. It indicated how immensely popular this product series was and for that matter still is.
Okay forgive me. One more 6600 article then, peleaase ?
See the thing is, NVIDIA came up with the idea to release yet another GeForce 6600. We've seen the DDR and gDDR3 version .. so why not a DDR2 version eh ? The product seats itself between the "regular" GeForce 6600 and the still outstanding GeForce 6600 GT. So with the desktop usage of DDR-slowly growing bigger the costs are coming down. Hey even the Athlon 64 will be supporting DDR-2 early next year, and many memory manufacturers are changing production from regular high speed DDR to DDR-2. That has certain advantages. Now don't get me wrong here, the memory used on today's graphics cards is gDDR2, with the 'g' for 'graphics.' I'm just saying that the DDR2 trend is slowly picking up. Next to that don't forget that this means more competition for ATI's upcoming X1300 and X1600 products. Another factor we need to weigh in is the fact that 128-bit gDDR2 memory has become dirt cheap.
Today's product originates from XFX. They have a well known reputation and have established a strong seat here in the European distribution channel. In fact, they where voted number 1 graphics card manufacturer here in the Netherlands. It has been several years since we reviewed their last product (GeForce 4200), so why not give the honor to them this time. The card tested today is of course developed under codename NV43 and make no mistake, it's the same GPU that you and I have known for a long time yet the big difference is that gDDR2 memory I was rambling on about in the introduction. Why not gDDR3 you ask ? gDDR3 is still expensive and only used for the high-end segment of graphics cards. With gDDR2 getting much cheaper it is the next logical step. Today's tested product thus has that cheaper yet faster memory. It's memory clock is now at 400 MHz (x2 effective) where the older model had a DDR memory reference clock of 275-300 MHz. That's a pure framebuffer bandwidth gain which is so essential for any graphics card. Next to that, and although this differed a little per manufacturer, the default graphics core frequency was roughly 300 MHz for the plain 6600 series. Today's product has a core clock of 400 MHz so you can smell the additional performance already.
Can this product overtake the mighty GeForce 6600 GT with 128 MB memory ? That's the 119 / 125 USD question we will be answering today. Follow me please, onwards to the next page.
The first encounter with the GeForce 6600 256 MB gDDR2