MSI NX6600GT TD128E PCIe - Benchmarking the Budget

Article Index
MSI NX6600GT TD128E PCIe
MSI 6600GT Up Close
Test Setup and Overclocking
Benchmarking the Budget
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

3DMark 2003 & 2005:

It wasn't so very long ago that I would've killed for a score over 5,000 in 3DMark03.  Now a mid-to-low end card like the MSI NX6600GT can pull over 8,000 points at stock speeds.  When overclocked the card just falls short of 8,900 points as we see roughly a 10% increase in performance do to the ~11% increase in core speed.

3DMark 2005 tells a similar story.  The card does very well for the price and pulls off a respectable 3,634 at stock speeds and climbs over 4,000 when overclocked.  It's remarkable that a 128-bit 8-pipeline card can do so well.  If you put a pair of these together in SLI you would see a tremendous improvement and have a heck'uv a gaming system for around $450CDN for Graphics.

At the higher resolution of 1280x1024, the card does struggle in these synthetic benchmarks, especially when AA and AF are enabled.  However, keep in mind that these are synthetic benchmarks.  Real world gaming can tell a totally different story.

3DMark 2003
 3DMark 2003

3DMark 2005
 3DMark 2005

Doom 3 Benchmarks:

nVidia has a leg up on comparable priced cards from ATi when it comes to OpenGL games such as Doom 3.  According to MSI, the NX6600GT TD128E is made for Doom 3 so it will be interesting to see just how good the card can run with the game.

Doom 3 was installed and the latest patch was applied.  I ran both the standard "demo1" timedemo and VIA's viavga_bench_d3 with the "usecache" switch.  The command(s) that were ran from the console were, 1) "timedemo demo1 usecache" and 2) "timedemo viavga_bench_d3 usecache".  This allows the timedemo to completely load itself to memory and thus prevent stuttering during the demo while it loads more textures.  All detail was set to maximum settings and the quality setting was "Ultra".  This is really pushing the card past it's limits as iD Software recommends a 512MB card and a much faster CPU to run at these settings.

Doom3
 Doom3 "Demo1"

Doom3
 Doom3 "VIAVGA Bench"

In the Demo1 timedemo we don't see much benefit from overclocking when AA & AF are disabled at 800x600.  At this point the system seems to be CPU limited, but when AA & AF are enabled, we see that overclocking boosts the scores about 10% higher at 800x600.  The higher resolutions that are tested show that the card is not up to really high-end gaming.  At 1280x1024 Doom 3 would be virtually unplayable with AA enabled.

The VIAVGA bench tells more of an extreme real-world story.  This timedemo takes place in a custom VIA map and there are a lot of objects, walls, corners and pixel shaders from heat.  In this level, gameplay would be pretty much limited to 800x600 or perhaps 1024x768 without AA or AF.  The card has too many objects to draw and the CPU (Athlon 64 3000+) doesn't seem to have enough power to push the limits of this game and benchmark.

 

Half-Life 2 Benchmarks:

Half-Life 2 seems to be optimized for ATi cards, although we'll soon see that nVidia's 6600GT series does very well itself.  Half-Life 2 is a much better rendered, written and optimized game than Doom3 and can run fine on new as well as old hardware.  Framerates are very acceptable across the board and the graphics quality is very good.  I'm not sure how to explain the results below, but in the Coast benchmark the game runs slightly better at higher resolution than at lower resolution.  I'm unsure exactly as to why.  The posted results are the sumation of several runs and have been averaged to ensure accuracy, but they still puzzle me.

Half-Life 2 Coast
 Half-Life 2 Coast

Half-Life 2 d13c17
 Half-Life 2 d13c17

In the Coast timedemo the average FPS doesn't drop below 70 until you run at 1280x1024 with 4x AA and 16x AF.  At this detail level, things look amazing and still run very well with no jerking or stuttering.  The d13c17 timedemo shows similar results.  It takes 1280x1024 AA & AF before the performance drops significantly.  It's pretty amazing that a card priced around $200CDN can run at 1024x768 4x AA & 16x AF at just under 60FPS in a new game like Half-Life 2.

Battlefield 2 Benchmarks:

To wrap up our MSI NX6600GT TD128E review under Windows XP Professional x64, we are taking a look at one of the latest FPS games to take the planet by storm.  We're talking about Battlefield 2.  As far as a game goes, this is poorly written and takes massive system resources, while in turn produces mediocre graphics.  That's not to say I don't like the game, it just comes across as a quick slap-together title that EA has released.  Character and vehicle models have improved and tax the GPU, but textures seem a little flat allover.  After that little rant, let's benchmark.

As I mentioned earlier, we used a couple of timedemos to benchmark BF2 and the results are logged to a CSV file.  Unfortunately the CSV file logs the load screens, so to get accurate benchmark results we have to break open a spreadsheet and average the in-game footage, not the load screen.  As a result, the numbers below may be lower than the results you are seeing with the benchmark program.  The scores below are the average framerates from the timedemo gameplay.

BF2 - Guru3D Demo
 BF2 - Guru3D Demo

BF2 - Anandtech Demo
 BF2 - Anandtech Demo

The Guru3D Demo cam follows the player at various angles though a river, in vehicles, shooting and jumping.  There are no other players in the map, just one player.  This demo runs fairly close to the player and draws a lot of the character model.  Realistically, you wouldn't want to run this demo at anything higher than 800x600 with AA & AF or 1024x768 without AA or AF.  At higher details with AA you will notice some stuttering.  You may be able to even run at 1280x1024, and at this resolution AA and AF are not needed as much as at lower resolutions.

The AnandTech demo is a short multi-player demo with tanks, explosions and lots of fast shooting.  The view is a bit more distant, but it draws a lot more objects.  Framerates on this demo are very nice until you hit 1280x1024 with AA.  At 1024x768 with AA and AF, the game performs very well at stock speeds, with overclocking adding about a 10% boost at all resolutions.

Certainly, this card is no killer gaming GPU, but it sure tries hard.  Let's wrap things up with the conclusion on the following page.