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Roll up, Roll up, it’s that time again – the graphics card group test. Our last roundup was of GeForce 6800 cards but this time we decided to go for a range of more affordable products. With PCI Express gaining market share by the day and the increasing availability of affordable SLI motherboards, we decided that it was high time to compare some sensibly priced GeForce 6600GT cards.

The GeForce 6600GT is a mid-priced graphics card that offers decent gaming performance in the very latest titles - at least as long as you don’t apply any filtering. It’s currently also the cheapest graphics card that will work in an SLI configuration. But these are not the only reasons why you should consider a GeForce 6600GT based card. nVidia has added improved video playback capabilities and TV output options and some of the cards on test can also handle video input.

All of the cards were tested at 1,024 x 768 and 1,280 x 1,024 resolution. Now before you start emailing us asking why we didn’t run the cards at 1,600 x 1,200, let us explain. We decided not to test above 1,280 x 1,024 for a simple reason; above this resolution on a GeForce 6600GT based card, most new games won’t run at an acceptable frame rate. On the other hand all of the cards were tested with 4x FSAA and also with both 4x FSAA and 4x Anisotropic Filtering enabled. As overclocking is unpredictable and varies from card to card, even from the same supplier, we decided to leave this out of this roundup.

The test suite included our standard 3D benchmarks which consists of 3DMark 03, 3DMark 05, Doom 3, Far Cry and Half Life 2. TrustedReviews uses custom demos for both Far Cry and Half Life 2 to circumvent any driver optimisation for specific benchmark demos. All the cards were tested using driver version 66.93 to give all the manufacturers a level playing field. This isn’t the very latest driver but inevitably a newer one appeared during the testing process.

The test platform consisted of an Intel Pentium 4 Extreme Edition CPU running at 3.46GHz, 1GB of PC4300 DDR2 SDRAM, an Intel D925XECV2 motherboard, a Maxtor DiamondMax 10 250GB SATA hard drive and an Akasa PaxPower 460W PSU. While this might not be the typical setup for a 6600GT graphics card, it should minimise any CPU bound limitations in the 3D test.

All of the cards on test feature 128MB of memory and a PCI Express interface.

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