While the faux gold on the MSI NX6600 Ares may appear contrived and gaudy to some, it does have its attractions, especially when paired with the black PCB. The card ends up looking more like a fashion accessory than a boring piece of silicon. Complemented by the classy packaging, you get a card aiming for an exclusive niche of consumers. However, unlike its Diamond GeForce 6600 cards, style is all there is going for the MSI NX6600 Ares.
Under all that glitter lies a standard GeForce 6600 DDR2 256MB card, which means that the core clock is set at the default 350MHz and the memory chips are clocked at 800MHz DDR. In fact, the type and brand of memory chips used (Infineon 2.5ns) are similar to those found on the XFX GeForce 6600 DDR2 card that we had reviewed before. The layout of the components on the PCB is however slightly different from the XFX, probably due to MSI's need to accommodate its CoreCell 3D features. Unlike other GeForce 6600 cards, the MSI NX6600 Ares seems to need a SLI bridge to enable the SLI mode. However, we have in the past tested GeForce 6600 class graphics cards and they work just fine even without the SLI bridge as these mainstream cards don't generate too much load to take advantage of the extra bandwidth provided by the SLI bridge. SLI matters aside, the card's circular cooler is predictably finished in gold though we were pleased at its rather quiet operation (not that a card of its caliber needs excessive cooling anyway).
For a deluxe edition of the GeForce 6600 DDR2, the goodies included with the MSI NX6600 Ares were accordingly a notch above what you would find for the typical GeForce 6600. The standard accessories are rightly included and MSI upped the software quotient with its Star DVD Family collection of DVD and media playback applications, which is essentially a suite of CyberLink applications under that guise. Finally, there is also a rather decent game with the inclusion of Peter Jackson's King Kong, a recent but increasingly frequent guest in graphics card bundles. The following is the complete list of items you'll find in every MSI NX6600 Ares package: