Asus Extreme N6600GT x 2 - Revisiting SLI
Summary & Conclusion
Performance Analysis: The single 8-pipeline Asus Extreme N6600GT (GeForce 6600 GT) performed well throughout our entire battery of benchmarks. A lone 6600 GT performs on par with the high-end video cards of the previous generation, like the Radeon 9800 Pro or GeForce 5900. However, running a pair of GeForce 6600 GTs together in an SLI configuration changes the performance profile dramatically. Two GeForce 6600 GTs coupled together in SLI mode perform much like today's high-end 16-pipeline cards in the games and applications currently supported by NVIDIA's Forceware drivers. A GeForce 6600 GT SLI configuration outpaced a single GeForce 6800 GT and a Radeon X800 XL in 14 of the 23 tests we ran. And running a pair of 6600 GTs in SLI mode improved performance by 17.8% to 92.3%, depending on the particular benchmark and test configuration.
Asus' Extreme N6600GT is a well appointed GeForce 6600 GT, and should be on your short-list of potential "buys" if you're in the market for a good mid-range PCI Express graphics card. Asus has outfitted this card with better cooling than the standard reference design, it comes bundled with a fine assortments of accessories, software, and games, and the Extreme N6600GT is priced competitively with other GeForce 6600 GTs in its class at roughly $210 U.S. In addition, having the ability to add-in a second card at a later time for SLI-mode operation is definitely a plus. A pair of Asus Extreme N6600GTs running in SLI mode offeres 3D performance on par with much more powerful cards. Having a pair of 6600GTs will also give users the ability to run up to four independant displays simultaneously, something not offered by any single consumer-class graphics cards currently available.
When you truly assess all of the features and performance avaialble to end-users for roughly a $570 investment (Dual GeForce 6600GTs + an SLI capable motherboard), it's difficult to knock a configuration such as this. NVIDIA's Forceware drivers now support SLI operation in many more games and applications than they did at launch (see here for the full list), and user's now have the ability to create their own SLI game profiles as well. SLI is not completely transparent, and doesn't "just work" with everything like 3dfx's implementation did many years ago, but when it is supported, running a pair of GeForces 6600s (or 6800s) in SLI mode significantly improves performance. In our opinion, a single Asus Extreme N6600GT would be a good choice for a budget-conscious consumer looking for good performance, but save up some extra dough and add-in a second one at a later date for a nice boost in performance and you'll be even happier. We're giving the Asus Extreme N6600GT an 8.5 on the Heat Meter.
ASUS Extreme N6600GT