There are plenty of video or graphics card installation and help articles on this site so I will not bore you with another one about how to remove the old drivers, pop open the cover and properly seat your shiny new video card. Opps, that’s about all there is to installing this one.
I bought the Diablotek Nvidia 6600 AGP 8X 256 MB card in great part to the web site you are viewing this article on. They had a little promotion and the content producers like myself that wrote a certain number of articles in a certain time period received gift certificates redeemable at a web site, guess what it’s called. GiftCertificates.com. We received an amount commensurate with your articles hits and the numbers of articles you have. Or what they call your Clout Index. The more good articles people read the more money you got in the form of gift certificates, so here’s some of what I spent mine on, for the rest watch for future articles about the products I bought.
So for a decent video or graphics card that costs about a hundred dollars you can expect the Nvidia 6600 is about the best you can get. I bought mine through Tiger Direct and I think it is a pretty good deal. If I was spending my own money I could have saved a few dollars and gotten about the same one at another place called Newegg but this card is about the best you can get for $100 at this time. I chose an NVidia card over my previous ATI card due in large part to the better drivers and ease of use. I had purchased an ATI card in the past to get the video hookups to be able to connect my VCR to my computer and record old VHS tapes into digital format but when I did they were really poor quality so that is a project that was scraped. Now I want power to play games, at least as much as $100 can buy me. Maybe in the future I will be able to get better but for now I am on a budget like so many others out there. So here’s what this card will do and just how good it is.
Here are some specifications about the DiabloTek GeForce 6600 AGP 8X 256 MB:
Graphics Processor Unit Nvidia GeForce 6600
Maximum Screen Resolution2048 X 1536 @ 85 Hertz
Video Memory256 MB
Memory TypeDDR SDRAM
Interface Type and SpeedAGP 8X
Connections on BackDVI for LCD screens
VGAfor CRT screens
TV S-Videofor TV hook up
RAMDAC or image converter speed400 MHz
Many of you may know what all this means and some will have no clue but I like to give some explanations of what all this kind of stuff is so you can understand why it would be important when choosing a video card. On your motherboard you need to make sure you have the correct connector and that your computer can handle this video card or any that you are deciding to buy. So this card has an AGP or Accelerated Graphics Port card slot that the card plugs into on your motherboard. The AGP slot is dedicated to the graphics card and is better than using the PCI or Peripheral Component Interconnect slots. These slots are for connecting a wide variety of components to your motherboard and as such have to be pretty generic for their use.
The AGP slot is solely for graphics cards and is configured to route information for the graphics right to the processor of your computer. It can run at 8X speed or down to the 4X speed of some older computers. My computer is a maximum of 4X on this card slot but the card runs fine even with the less communications ports that it has to use. That is what the 4X or 8X means, how many ports the card is using for transferring data to and from your computer measured in bandwidth. The 8X would be twice as fast as 4X but not in all situations. You have to also look at the computers processor and other parts of the computer. On my computer the motherboard will only handle so much information to and from the graphics card so no matter how good a video or graphics card I get it will only transfer the data at the 4X speed. I would have to get a different and better motherboard to take advantage of the 8X speed but that is not going to happen for me, I would get another computer first. All motherboards are backward compatible for the AGP speeds. A 2X video card has to work in a 1X or 2X motherboard but not any higher. An 8X card will work in any motherboard, 1X, 2X, 4X or 8X but it will not perform as well at the 1X or 2X speeds. So you have to make sure you get the appropriate AGP speed card that will work in your computer.
The other major thing you need to concern yourself with is the connectors on the back of the card. If you have a LCD monitor you need to have the DVI connector on the back, but you can use a small adapter to change the DVI to VGA for a CRT monitor. I currently have two monitors hooked up to my computer using both the VGA connector and the DVI with the enclosed adapter DVI to VGA. In certain situations it is nice to use two monitors. I can have and use windows explorer on one screen and have the Word document I am typing on the other. Using two screens just means more work area on the desktop. Transferring windows from one to the other is simply a matter of moving the windows when they are not maximized in size and you left click and hold the window on the top bar to move the window across to the other monitor. You set this up in the properties of the monitors.
For the video memory speed and RAMDAC speed these do not mean much unless you understand some about electronics and how computers work. Suffice it to say that these are normal for this type of card and for the cost. For cards that have lower numbers for the speed you would expect to pay less.
The video memory amount, in this case 256 Mega Byte, refers to the amount of memory the card will use to process the video images. This is probably the most important number when talking about graphics cards. The more memory on the video card the more information that is processed by the card and not your computers memory. For onboard graphics when you do not have a graphics card your computer would simply use the main memory of your computer. The graphics cards use their own memory freeing up system memory for other uses. The higher the memory the better the graphics look and the less your system uses of the main memory for other operations. The more memory on graphics cards the more the card will cost.
This card can have the desktop set at a screen resolution or size of 2048 X 1536 @ 85 Hertz maximum. I use the 1024 X 768 size with my frequency at 85 hertz for most of what I do on my computer. My screen size can go higher but it makes the icons and words smaller. Some video games play very well at smaller sizes such as 800 X 600 but the larger screen sizes like 1024 X 768 look better. The frequency is how often the computer refreshes the screens image, the more the better for things like games and graphics. This rate is more important for better eyesight when you watch your screen for long periods and for preventing seizures from watching video games too much. The higher the screen refresh rates the less the eyes have to strain and you have less action for your eyes and brain to keep up with what is happening on the screen, this is only a layman’s way of explaining it but it is pretty accurate. You set your screen size and refresh rate on your monitors property screen. Right click on an empty area of your desktop and go to the settings menu. The screen size and how many screens you are using are on the first page along with the color. Click on the advanced tab and it will take you to another set of pages, clicking on the monitor page will bring up information for your computers monitor including refresh rates.
This video card is a pretty good one for the cost; I researched graphics cards and found out that the GeForce 6600 is a pretty good processor for these cards. I also found out you should avoid the 6600 LE, some problem with it being a cheaper version of this graphics processor. If you want to get a better card you could go to the higher letters of this same graphics card, the 6600 GT or Ultra, or even a different number like the 6800 but these will cost more.
The Nvidia GeForce 6600 does not have any major problems and works pretty well when tested in many different companies’ video cards. The Nvidia 6600 is the main computer chip used as the graphics processor and many different manufacturers use it on their video cards. I found no problems with the DiabloTek’s card on many web sites that I visited.
This graphics card has some number of things that are some of the features I wanted in my new card. Two of these are the Pixel and Texture shaders. I had 1.0 versions of pixel and texture shaders in my old card and the newer games want to have better versions of these. Pixel and Texture shaders are simply the things that shade and create the textures of the individual dots or pixels of the things you see on your screen. The better versions are up to 3 now. The better games like Quake 4, FEAR and Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter use version 2 or 3 for this feature. I tried the demo of Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter with my old card and it had no graphics, just a black screen with a small compass and some other parts of the screen on but mostly black. Now I can play the game and get pretty good frame rates on the lower settings of the game.
I have done some things like benchmarking on my computer and have some pretty good results that I am happy with. I tried some standard benchmarking programs that test my computer and system by running a game type program and record frame rates and other information that people can compare to see how they stack up against other computers. Frame rates are simply the number of frames that are being drawn per second while playing a game. It is the same as the refresh rate I described earlier but this number will go down when playing a game due to the amount of things your computer is doing at one time. One program I ran compares the frame rates in low and high detail for a game called Far Cry and I ran this with both video cards, the old ATI All In Wonder 9200 and the new Nvidia GeForce 6600. Comparing the frame rates while playing a game on certain settings is the best way to compare how one video card performs over another one. Using the same computer and settings is important when doing these tests so that everything is the same on your system except the video card you are testing. The Far Cry frame rates were as follows:
Far Cry Frame rateATI All In Wonder 9200Nvidia GeForce 6600
Minimum Detail40.46 FPS52.45 FPS
Maximum Detail17.61 FPS26.63 FPS
As you can see by my results I got higher frame rates for all the tests. I ran some other benchmarking programs and saw favorable results as well as the Far Cry benchmarking program. I am quite happy with my new video card and have been happy with the results of the testing.
The card came with a few things in the box, an adapter to convert the DVI to VGA and an S-Video adapter to convert the S-Video to four color plug ins and video used for S-Video components like projectors. It also came with two CD’s, one for the graphics drivers for the card and one is PowerDVD from Cyberlink. The drivers are an older version and it is important that you use the latest version of drivers for your system.
I did not install the card with the old drivers; I downloaded the new ones before I took out the old card and just ran them when the computer detected the new card after installing it. To install the new card I first removed the old drivers for the other card and shut off the computer then pulled the power cord out. Then it is a simple procedure of pulling the case cover off, pushing the tab to unlock the card from the AGP slot and carefully pulling the old card out. Touch the case of your computer before pulling the new card out of its bag to remove any static charge you have to prevent static discharge damage to the new card. Seat the new card in and firmly push down making sure the tab locks the card in. Also make sure the card seats in the tabs for the metal end that has the connectors on it at the back of your computer. Reconnect the monitor, power cord and power up your system, the computer will detect the new card and you run the newest drivers by clicking on the unzipped file or inserting the driver CD.
The PowerDVD from Cyberlink is a DVD player program that is for playing DVD’s on your computer just like many others thrown into the purchase as a bonus but it is an older version of a DVD player so is not that good. I looked on Froogle and found several of the same versions on sale for $10 or so. They often do this as a bonus and nothing more.
Overall the Nvidia GeForce 6600 from DiabloTek is a pretty good deal for a budget video or graphics card. It has all the latest and most modern things to run some of the newer games but is at a price that many can afford. If you are looking into a new graphics card on a budget check out the GeForce 6600 line of Nvidia cards, you will be happy if you do your research and make sure your computer can take the card and make sure you get one from a reputable company that is well known. Whichever card you do get check opinions of others and make sure your system will handle the newer card.