Good 3D Performance at a Middling Price: GeForce 6600 Shootout

Gainward Ultra/1960 PCX XP 128 MB "Golden Sample" GLH

Gainward is well-known for its fast, high-clock-rate graphics cards. It also bears the distinction of being the manufacturer with the longest and most unpronounceable product name: Gainward PowerPack! Ultra/1960 PCX XP 128 MB "Golden Sample" GLH - with the abbreviation GLH standing for "Goes Like Hell". We'll call it the "Ultra/1960" for short...

The color red dominates everything associated with the Ultra/1960: the board, the heatsink, two DVI-to-VGA adapters; there is even multistage red illumination on the fan. But first things first. Gainward has endowed the card with particularly fast 1.6 ns GDDR3 Samsung memory modules. The card is advertised with a speed of 540/1150, which is much faster than NVIDIA's default reference figures. But operating the card at these speeds requires the installation of the Gainward EXPERTool to "overclock" the card up to the clock rate advertised by Gainward - by default the hardware only runs with the regular 500/1000 MHz speeds. Why Gainward doesn't just integrate the higher clock rate directly in the BIOS, as Leadtek and Gigabyte do, remains a mystery.

The cooling fan of the Gainward Ultra/1960 PCX includes red LED lights...

... which glow in variable intensity, depending on the fan speed.

When it comes to cooling, Gainward is oriented toward the design of the NVIDIA reference cooler, coupled with small passive heatsinks for the memory modules. The LEDs integrated in the fans are real eye-catchers; the lights glow with varying intensity depending on the fan speed, which either changes automatically or can be set manually. At the start of a game, when the fan runs faster, the glow from inside the case is stronger than before - a cute effect, and not just for case modders. In operation the fan is pleasingly silent.

Apart from the TV out and in, the card's two DVI outputs are pleasing too. Up to two TFT displays can be connected digitally here. The gold slot metal also looks classy; these details reveal that someone really put some thought into designing the card.