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GeForce 6600 GT AGP comparo

Three's company
— 12:00 AM on February 1, 2005

IF YOU'RE LOOKING to spend around $200 on a mid-range AGP graphics card, NVIDIA's GeForce 6600 GT AGP is definitely the way to go. NVIDIA introduced this bridged version of its popular 6600 GT PCI Express part back in November, and the card had little trouble knocking off ATI's mid-range AGP competition in the benchmarks. Since November, ATI has added a would-be GeForce 6600 GT-killer in Radeon X800, but it's PCI Express-only, leaving the GeForce 6600 GT comfortably ahead of the rest of the mid-range AGP graphics card field.

So that's settled. The GeForce 6600 GT is the best mid-range graphics option for AGP. But not all GeForce 6600 GT AGPs are created equal. Some manufacturers offer dual DVI outputs on their boards, others serve up unique cooling solutions, and a couple even monkey around with clock speeds. Which card is right for you? We've rounded up GeForce 6600 GT AGP cards from Albatron, BFG, and XFX to find out.

Comparing the cards
Before we look at the offerings individually, let's quickly compare some of their more notable attributes.

Core clock (MHz) Memory clock (MHz) Memory size (MB) Video outputs Video inputs Warranty period Street price
Albatron Trinity GeForce 6600 GT AGP 505 475 128 DVI, VGA, S-Video, component video, composite video None 3 years labor, 1 year parts NA
BFG GeForce 6600 GT OC AGP 525 525 128 DVI (2), S-Video, component video, composite video None Lifetime $249
XFX GeForce 6600 GT AGP 500 500 128 DVI (2), S-Video None 2 years

Only XFX adheres to NVIDIA's prescribed 500MHz core and memory clock speeds. BFG's "OC" offering boasts core and memory clocks that are 25MHz higher than stock, but it's marketed as an overclocked card and warranted at those higher clock speeds. The Albatron card's clock speeds are the oddest of the bunch, though. The card's core is clocked 5MHz higher than stock, but its memory is running 25MHz slower than NVIDIA's spec for the 6600 GT. According to Albatron, the memory is running a little slower to enhance stability on the first run of "version 1" cards. Version 2 is apparently coming with memory running at 500MHz.

All three cards come equipped with 128MB of GDDR3 memory. In fact, they all use the same Samsung memory chips. Normally, I'd say that 128MB of memory would be enough for a mid-range graphics card. However, the eight-pipe 6600 GT has plenty of pixel pushing horsepower, and it's likely that the card could make use of 256MB of memory, especially at higher resolutions with antialiasing and anisotropic filtering enabled. Unfortunately, GeForce 6600 GT cards with 256MB of memory have yet to hit the market.

Fortunately, though, both the BFG and XFX cards feature dual DVI outputs, which is impressive considering their price points. The Albatron and BFG cards also come with NVIDIA's swanky video output dongle, which serves up component, composite, and S-Video outputs.

As far as warranties go, BFG's lifetime guarantee really stands out. The Albatron and XFX warranties should be adequate, though. After all, AGP is only going to be around for so long.

With the longest warranty, best selection of video outputs, and highest clock speeds, it's no surprise that the BFG card is the most expensive of the lot. We'll have to see if it's worth the $50-plus premium.