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GeForce 6600 GT cards in SLI

One plus one equals more

THE BIGGEST PROMISE of NVIDIA's new SLI GPU-teaming capability may be the ability to upgrade on an installment plan. By building an SLI-capable system with a single graphics card now, users give themselves the option of adding a second card later for nearly two times the rendering power. For most of us, the most realistic and affordable means of building such a system is NVIDIA's GeForce 6600 GT GPU. At around $200, the 6600 GT seems ideal for SLI.

But does a multi-GPU solution with $200 cards make sense in the age of killer $400 cards and eBay? Tough question. In order to answer it, we've tested a pair of Asus's sweet GeForce 6600 GT cards in SLI, and we've compared them to thirteen different competitors, ranging from a single GeForce 6600 GT to ATI's impressive new Radeon X800 XL. Keep reading to see what we found.

Doubling up on a good thing
During our initial look at SLI, we used a pair of GeForce 6800 Ultra cards on an Asus A8N-SLI Deluxe motherboard. This time around, we're using the same A8N-SLI Deluxe mobo, and Asus has also supplied us with a pair of its Extreme N6600GT cards.

As you may know, we have liked the GeForce 6600 GT since it first arrived this past fall. With eight pixel shader units and a 500MHz core clock speed, the 6600 GT offers performance comparable to the previous generation's $400 graphics cards for about half that price. The Asus Extreme N6600GT ships with 128MB of GDDR3 memory and a GPU core clocked at a stock 500MHz. To this basic package, Asus adds a fair set of extras, including a decent looking custom cooler, a three-year warranty, a DVD player program, some multimedia authoring software, and a copy of Joint Operations: Typhoon Rising.

The Asus Extreme N66000GT card

Asus also throws in all the necessary bits to get the card working, including a DVI-to-VGA adapter, an S-Video-to-Composite cable, a manual CD, and a driver CD—not a bad bundle for a mid-range graphics card. Unlike the PCI Express versions of the GeForce 6800 Ultra and 6800 GT, which are both nearly impossible to buy outside of a pre-built system, Asus's 6600 GT can be found at multiple online vendors today.

A pair of these cards nestles easily into the two PCI Express x16 slots on the A8N-SLI Deluxe mobo, and presto, you've got SLI:

The GeForce 6600 GT doesn't require an auxiliary power connection, so a pair of these cards shouldn't require an especially beefy power supply or a heroic cooling effort, as a pair of 6800 Ultras might. All that's required to get the cards working is to flip the A8N-SLI's daughtercard from the single-card to multi-card position and attach the SLI connector between the two cards.