It's Christmas and everyone seems to be looking for an excuse to upgrade their system. With a variety of graphics chipsets on offer from the leading board vendors, buying a new video card is a popular upgrade choice these days. With so many good cards to choose from, the choices facing you are also being confused as a war continues to rage on the Net between fill-rate and T&L performance. Fortunately, the current performance leader has both performance advantages; and it is the GeForce 256 chip from NVIDIA. As you might know, we have looked at a couple of the available solutions (see Battle of the Titans ) and now, we bring you yet another GeForce contender, the Asus AGP-V6600 Deluxe.
As we have been saying the last few weeks, the NVIDIA GeForce chipset is the first consumer hardware T&L based graphics solution that currently has the best fill-rate performance, too. For more information on this chipset please read "Full Review NVIDIA's new GeForce 256 'GPU' ". Repeatedly, we have said that we feel the GeForce chipset is being held back greatly by its memory limitation, but this is now being addressed with the upcoming DDR based solutions. Also competition will begin to heat up, the Diamond Viper II has been released recently, based on the Savage2000 chipset, the Viper II also promises T&L. Look for a review in the near future.
Asus has been a stable source for motherboards as well as video cards for some time now and we have come to expect extra quality and performance whenever they decided to support a new chipset (on their motherboards and video cards). It is not uncommon for Asus to modify reference designs to raise the bar of quality and performance. This is the case with the design of the Asus V6600 GeForce 256 based video card. Extra effort in the design was made to allow for SGRAM support. Although NVIDIA has not suggested that OEMs take this route and use a non-SDRAM or DDRAM configuration; Asus has taken a diverged from the 'norm' and comes out a winner. I will cover this in greater detail farther into the article but note that the SGRAM appears to have been a good more to help memory performance. As we have proven to you before (click here for more details), memory performance can be a severe performance limitation for the GeForce 256 based cards.
|Feature||Asus V6600 Deluxe||Creative Labs Annihilator||Leadtek WinFast GeForce 256|
|On-board memory||32 MB 5ns SGRAM||32 MB 5.5ns SDRAM||32 MB 5ns SDRAM|
|RAMDAC||350 MHz||350 MHz||350 MHz|
|Video Out||Yes, S-Video, Composite, VR Glasses||No||Yes, Composite, DVI|
|Video Input||Yes, S-Video||No||No|
|MSRP||$299.00 (USD)||$249.00 (USD)||$249.00 (USD)|
Note: Blue text signifies a general feature advantage.
As far as features go, the Asus V6600 is slightly ahead of the Leadtek WinFast GeForce 256 having Video-in and VR output. However, the V6600 is $50 (USD) more expensive than the competition, which is not a small difference. For that price difference, the V6600 enters the newly released DDR GeForce board price range. Keep in mind we are reviewing the deluxe version of the V6600 and that a "pure" version is available at $249.00 (USD) that does not have the video capabilities or the VR hardware.
The Asus card comes with a few pieces of software ranging from utilities/applications to full game titles. To briefly review what the Creative and Leadtek boards bundled, click here . Here is what the deluxe bundle includes:
- Ulead Video Studio - an MPEGII encoder as well as a video editing software.
- AsusDVD - Software DVD player.
- Games - The full version of Drakan and Rollcage along with a CD game sampler (good ole shovel-ware).
The bundle is not that special but it does have the standard software DVD player and a couple of games for free. The video encoding/editing software does its job and it makes a lot of sense to be able and convert huge motion-JPEG files of recordings into the smaller MPEG2-format, as long as you've still got enough disk space or a DVD-RAM. All in all, I would rate the bundle as average like the other two software packages.