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

Hazards When Handling Graphics Cards

During a graphics card test, graphics cards and motherboards are changed constantly. The exchange of a card is completely routine for the authors, so our handling of cards is sometimes a bit rough - experience has shown that graphics cards can take a lot of punishment. What we mean here is not wanton destruction, but rather piling cards on top of each other, for example. (When it comes to the VGA charts, in the course of which over 40 cards get tested, you can quickly run out of desk space!) But such a "pile" unfortunately falls over now and then. So far all cards have survived such an accident without any problems, and the malfunction ratio in the editorial office is confined to a few cases per year.

But in handling the GeForce 6600 graphics cards tested here, as well as various current PCI Express motherboards, some sources of danger have come to our attention. Even very experienced PC users can succumb to these, which can transform a graphics card into scrap in the twinkling of an eye.

Caution! When grasping the fan, it tips over a few millimeters to the side in the case of many GeForce 6600 cards. This can easily knock a piece out of the sensitive NV43 die.

The result then usually looks like this: a corner broken off the die. To blame is the very loose attachment of the heat sink, due to the large spaces between the attachment pins. If possible, GeForce 6600 cards should not be held in place on the heat sink. What would help would be simple rubber buffers on the other side of the heat sink, which would prevent the fan from tilting.

With ATI this would not have happened. ATI graphics processors - at least the more expensive models - are normally protected by a spacer. Tipping the fan here has no negative consequences.

Cards with GPUs damaged in this way often initially function without any problems. Only in 3D operation do the first malfunctions appear, in the form of errors and crashes. And an exchange of the card under guarantee is not possible with such damage.