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This may come as a surprise, but according to id Software you shouldn’t play Doom3 with the Leadtek WinFast PX6600TD. As you’ll see on the Doom3 system requirements here: a GeForce4 MX graphics card is fine, and so is a GeForce 6800, but the GeForce 6600 doesn’t get a look-in. This is nonsense of course, as the Leadtek plays Doom3 amazingly well, especially since we can’t help but think of the Leadtek as a budget graphics card.
Leadtek classifies the WinFast PX6600TD as a midrange graphics card, and while we quite agree that it has the features and performance of a midrange card, the fact that Leadtek sells it for just under the psychological price barrier of £100 is impressive. If you walk into one of the large High Street retailers such as PC World you’ll find that £99 will get you a BFG FX5200 or a PowerColor 9600 Pro and the GeForce 6600 will have those cards for breakfast. So the Leadtek is a budget graphics card, but it’s a superior budget graphics card as it has roughly half the performance of the Leadtek WinFast A400 TDH GeForce 6800 which we reviewed in our 6800 round-up recently, and that model sells for just over £200.
The fact that the PX6600TD uses a PCI express interface is an irrelevance, as it offers no advantage over AGP 8x at present, but it makes the Leadtek worthy of interest if you’re going down the PCI Express route with a new Intel 915P/925X motherboard, or you’re considering the next generation of Athlon 64 products.
The GeForce 6600 chip supports DirectX 9.0c, rather than the 9.0b that ATI currently favours, but we’re unconvinced that this is a real benefit. DirectX 9.0c and Shader Model 3.0 have a limit of 65,536 shader instructions which is effectively no limit at all, while the ATI approach with Shader Model 2 has a limit of 768 instructions. We understand that the most complex shader used in Far Cry is only 50 instructions long, so on the face of it Shader Model 2 has plenty of head room. We are very nearly swayed by this argument, and if there was nothing else to choose between two competing graphics cards, we’d pick Shader Model 3, just to be on the safe side. Thankfully, choosing a graphics card generally throws up a number of questions that are rather more fundamental than the number of light sources that a shading system can accurately handle.
Leadtek claims that the WinFast PX6600TD uses an Ultra Cooling System, but we beg to differ. The cooler on the GeForce 6600 GPU is a conventional aluminium heatsink with radial fins, although the fan is a relatively large 55mm diameter unit, compared to the standard size of 40mm that is used on many graphics cards.