Gigabyte GA660 Turbo Vrs. MSI 3DAGPhantom - HotHardware

Gigabyte GA660 Turbo Vrs. MSI 3DAGPhantom

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A Tale of Two TNT2s

The Gigabyte GA660 Turbo

Vrs.

The MSI 3DAGPhantom

We brought in the wreckin' crew for this event. Like a Demolition Team with a bad attitude, we decided to mix up a couple of explosive substances and see what kind of reaction we would get. This is a "Bake Off" of sorts between a pair of TNT2 cards from Gigabyte and Micro-Star International. Both boards are from the standard TNT2 vintage as opposed to the Ultra variety. Both cards also are designed with an agressive approach to the standard NVidia Reference Design. You know both Gigabyte and MSI for their exceptional Motherboard products. We decided to get a little insight on their Graphics Accelerators. Let's see what they are made of.

 


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The Gigabyte GA660 Turbo - TNT2 with a Twist

If you are like me and have a keen sense of the obvious, you'll note that the Gigabyte board is set up dramatically different than any other TNT2 board on the market today. Dig that Metalic Blue Heatsink on the back side of the PCB! It is mounted directly underneath the Ball Grid Pads of the TNT2 chip's BGA package. Since you can't mount other components directly underneath a BGA device, this area of the board is wasted space normally. However, the folks at Gigabyte took a page from the book of us hard core overclocking freaks and decided that they would suck a little more heat out of the TNT2 chip from the back side with this heat sink. Another interesting feature of this board is the "Turbo Mode" jumper on the front side. This jumper allows you to take this board from its standard 125 MHz. Core Clock and 140 MHz. Memory Clock to a more robust 156/156 Core and Memory Speed. We of course were dieing to see if the board was capable of something more since this really is not "break neck" speed for the TNT2. More on that later... :-) Lastly, the memory on this board are the exact same chips that are on the MSI board. Specifically, they are Samsung part number KM32S2030CT-G7. Both boards have 32MB.

 


The MSI 3DAGPhantom - Stealthy Power Under a Modest Exterior

The 3D AGPhantom from MSI is also a very well made board. I actually like the heatsink and fan combo on the front of this board, a little better than the Gigabyte board. The heatsink is a little heavier and the fan is one of those "Turbo-Prop" kinds with a few extra blades. Also, both boards fasten their sinks down with push pins through the PCB. The MSI board use a thermal transfer pad between the sink and the chip. The Gigabyte's sink is glued down in addition to the pins. One of these approaches works definately better than the other. Once again, we'll get to that shortly.

Finally, the MSI board has an additional TV S-Video Out connector and comes with a converter cable. This is an extra plus for the AGPhantom. Other than that, it is true basic reference design. Nothing too special here except for the well designed heat sink and fan. The AGPhantom is clocked out of the box at 140MHz. Core and 155MHz. Memory Clocks.

     

     
OK, so that's the hardware. We are not going to insult your intelligence and re-post the NVidia TNT2 specs here like we have in other reviews. If you need a referesher, check here. I really like the TNT2 Chipset. It is a well rounded platform with full 32bit Color and support for larger textures. Both cards are raised from his solid stock. 
     

Before we break out the Kevlar Impact Vests for our little competition. Let's take a look at a few more odds and ends. In the immortal words of Aerosmith and Steven Tyler....

Walk this way!

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