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MSI NX6600 Diamond (AGP & PCIe Combo Review)

MSI NX6600 Diamond (AGP & PCIe Combo Review)


Premium GeForce 6600 Graphics

Premium GeForce 6600 Graphics

By now you would have heard the news that NVIDIA's full GeForce 6600 lineup is available on both the PCIe x16 and the AGP 8x interface formats. Though the GeForce 6600 GT (AGP) had been retailing a couple of months back, the non-GT version on AGP is the latest edition and has just started hitting the retail front. The GeForce 6600 cards (on both interfaces) use cheaper DDR1 memory and are clocked far lower than the GeForce 6600 GT cards. In terms of feature support, both are identical, sans the SLI link for the PCIe version. MSI being NVIDIA's close add-in-board partner, they were naturally among the early birds to push their cards out to end-users first. However, we are not reviewing MSI's normal GeForce 6600 cards in this article, but a higher-class Diamond edition.

Right after introducing the specially equipped Diamond class NVIDIA nForce4 SLI motherboard (K8N Diamond), MSI brought over the same concept to their graphics card segment and the GeForce 6600 GPU was selected first to adopt this theme. Sporting far better specifications than standard GeForce 6600 cards and an exclusive game bundle as reflected by the Chronicles Of Riddick box package theme, the Diamond class GeForce 6600 cards are set to impress onlookers with their uniqueness and much greater overclocking potential without harming the card. For the AGP 8x interface, we have the MSI NX6600-VTD128 Diamond and for newer PCIe x16 endowed systems, there is the MSI NX6600-VTD128E Diamond. We will be reviewing both cards in this article. To find out how much better the Diamond editions are versus the stock GeForce 6600 cards, we outlined the below table to simplify matters. Also worth noting is how the Diamond editions fare in specs as compared to a stock GeForce 6600 GT:-

Comparison Table
Technical Specs MSI NX6600 Diamond NVIDIA GeForce 6600 NVIDIA GeForce 6600 GT
GPU Clock 400MHz 300MHz 500MHz
Memory Clock 400MHz (800MHz DDR) 275MHz (550MHz DDR) 500MHz (1000MHz DDR) - PCIe x16
450MHz (900MHz DDR) - AGP 8x
Memory Type Graphics DDR3 Graphics DDR1 Graphics DDR3

Going by the specifications, it seems that the MSI NX6600 Diamond editions are wedged right in between a normal GeForce 6600 and a GeForce 6600 GT. So despite the Diamond editions using a standard GeForce 6600 GPU, they are actually in a class of their own (and priced appropriately as well). Don't forget that MSI's Dynamic Overclocking Technology (D.O.T.) is also present for yet another 10% speed boost. MSI's warranty does cover the use of D.O.T., so there's little reason not to enable it for further performance gains - especially since these cards are very overclockable as we found out. Below, we list the common technical specifications that are applicable to both AGP and PCIe versions of the MSI NX6600 Diamond editions:-

MSI NX6600 Diamond Series Technical Specifications
Graphics Engine
  • NVIDIA GeForce 6600 GPU
    • Stock 2D GPU clock = 300MHz
    • Stock 3D GPU clock = 400MHz
    • 8 pixel rendering pipelines
    • 3 vertex pipelines (geometry engines)
    • 128-bit DDR3 memory controller
  • CineFX 3.0 Shading Engine
    • Vertex Shaders
      • Support for DX 9.0 Vertex Shader 3.0
      • Displacement Mapping
      • Vertex Frequency Stream Divider (Geometry Instancing)
      • Infinite length vertex programs (supported in hardware)
    • Pixel Shaders
      • Support for DX 9.0 Pixel Shader 3.0
      • Full pixel branching support
      • Multiple Render Targets (MRTs)
      • Infinite length pixel programs (supported in hardware)
    • Texturing Engine Features
      • Up to 16 textures per rendering pass
      • Support for 16-bit and 32-bit floating point formats
      • Support for sRGB texture format for gamma textures
      • DirectX and S3TC texture compression
    • Full 128-bit FP Precision Graphics Pipeline
        Native support for 32 / 64 / 128 bits per pixel rendering modes
  • UltraShadow II Technology (accelerates shadow computations)
  • Intellisample 3.0 Technology
    • 16x Anisotropic Filtering
    • Adaptive Texture Filtering
    • Rotated Grid Antialiasing
    • Fast antialiasing and compression performance
    • Loss-less Color, Texture and Z-Data Compression algorithms (in real time)
    • Fast Z-clear
    • High-resolution Compression Technology (HCT) increases performance at high resolutions.
  • Advanced Video and Display Functionality
    • Dedicated on-chip video processor
      • MPEG video encode and decode
      • WMV9 decode acceleration
      • Advanced adaptive de-interlacing
      • High quality video scaling and filtering
    • Integrated NTSC/PAL TV encoder support resolutions up to 1024x768 with built-in Macrovision copy protection
    • DVD and HDTV-ready MPEG-2 decoding up to 1920x1080i resolutions
    • Dual 400MHz RAMDACs that support resolutions of 2048x1536@85Hz
    • o Dual DVO ports for interfacing external TMDS transmitters and external TV/HDTV encoder
    • Microsoft Video Mixing Renderer (VMR)
    • nView Multi-display Technology
  • Digital Vibrance Control (DVC) 3.0
  • NVIDIA High-Precision Dynamic-Range (HPDR) Technology
  • Advanced Interface Support
    • Designed for PCI Express x 16 - (MSI NX6600-VTD128E)
    • Full support of AGP 8X using High Speed Interconnect (HSI) chip - (MSI NX6600-VTD128)
  • Advanced thermal monitoring and thermal management
Graphics Memory
  • 128MB Graphic DDR3 SDRAM (Samsung GC-20, 2.0ns chip)
  • Default memory clock = 400MHz clock rate (effective speed of 800MHz DDR)
  • 128-bit memory interface
  • 12.8GB/sec Memory Bandwidth
RAMDAC
  • Dual integrated 10-bit per channel 400 MHz DACs that support resolutions of 2048x1536@85Hz
Connectors
  • 1x DB15 analog VGA connector (for CRT monitors and Flat Panel displays)
  • 1x DVI-I connector (for Digital Flat Panel displays, compatible with analog displays with converter)
  • 1x mini-DIN connector for VIVO
    • GPU integrated video encoder supports TV-output resolution up to 1024x768
    • Philips SAA7115 video decoder chip supports video capturing fucntionality
Driver Support
  • Driver support for Windows NT4 SP6/ 95/ 98 / Me / 2000 / XP / XP MCE / XP 64-bit / Server 2003 SP1 64-bit
  • Driver support for Linux IA32 / AMD64 / IA64 and FreeBSD
  • Fully compliant professional OpenGL 1.5 API with NVIDIA extensions
  • Complete DirectX support including 9.0c and lower
Software Bundle
  • FarStone Virtual Drive 7
  • FarStone Restore It 3
  • MSI Utilities
  • E-Color 3Deep
  • ThinSoft Be Twin
  • CyberLink PowerCinema 3
  • CyberLink MakeDVD
  • CyberLink Power2Go 4- DVD
  • CyberLink PowerProducer 2 Gold - DVD
Game Bundle
  • The Chronicles Of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay (Developer's Cut, 5 CDs)
Other Information
  • MSI NX6600-VTD128 (AGP Version)
    • AGP 2.0 / 3.0 slot required (1.5V)
    • 1 PCI-assigned IRQ Required
    • One four-pin Molex power connector required (preferably not shared or split with Y-cable)
  • MSI NX6600-VTD128E (PCIe Version)
    • PCIe x16 slot required