Gigabyte GV-N66256DP Fanless Graphics Card

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April 8, 2006 by Devon Cooke

Product
Gigabyte GV-N66256DP
Fanless GeForce 6600 for AGP
Manufacturer
Gigabyte Technology
Market Price
US$130

The GeForce 6600 is old news, based on yesterday's technology. The same goes for AGP. Even fanless cards are no longer very newsworthy, as most major manufacturers now offer one or two fanless models. However, not many manufacturers offer a good performance AGP card with fanless cooling.

This is why Gigabyte's fanless GeForce 6600 is still worth looking at, even after the market has moved on. The upgrade market still consists mostly of AGP-based systems, and the GeForce 6600 represents close to the high water mark for AGP performance.

Gigabyte was one of the first manufacturers to recognize a demand for fanless graphics cards. For a time, their heatpipe-cooled cards were the only game in town if you wanted a fanless graphics card that wasn't an entry-level performer. The GV-N66256DP is part of Gigabyte's original lineup of heatpipe-cooled cards. While a 6600 may be considered entry-level these days, it's still a capable performer as an upgrade to an older system.


As usual, the retail box is several times the size of the card.

Gigabyte did not develop the fanless cooler on their own. A sticker on the box reads "Cooled by Zalman". Zalman is well known as a noise-conscious manufacturer of CPU heatsinks, so it's no surprise that Gigabyte decided to use their expertise. The result of this collaboration is what Gigabyte calls "SilentPipe" technology.


The heatsink is provided by a company well known for designing low-noise coolers.

As can be expected from an entry level gamer card, the accessories are fairly basic:

  • A brief instruction manual, with basic installation instructions and an overview of nVidia's drivers. Troubleshooting tips are minimal.
  • A driver CD
  • Bundled game: Thief - Deadly Shadows
  • DVI-A to D-Sub adapter to allow the DVI port to be used with an analogue monitor
  • A TV breakout box with component and S-Video output


Standard accessories.

SPECIFICATIONS

SPECIFICATIONS: Gigabyte GV-N66256DP
(from Gigabyte's web site)

Chipset

NVIDIA GeForce 6600 + HSI

Memory

256 MB
Memory Bus 128 bit
Memory Type DDR 16M x 16
PCB Form ATX
Bus Type AGP
Bus Speed 8x
D-Sub Yes
TV-Out Yes
DVI Port Yes (DVI-I)
VIVO No
Multi View Yes

By now, the performance of the GeForce 6600 should be no surprise to anybody. Avid gamers will no doubt turn up their noses and shell out for the latest and greatest, but performance should be fine for casual gamers.

A more likely market for the GV-N66256DP is home theater, not gaming. Low noise is essential for home theater components, so a fanless graphics card makes good sense. And, because 3D graphics are rarely used in a home theater, 3D performance is not relevant.


An external power source is needed.

Not mentioned in the specifications is the presence of an external power connector. This connector indicates that the AGP slot may not be able to supply enough power to operate the card. The PCI Express version of the same card does not have a power connector. Even though the card exceed the power delivery possible via AGP, it is within the capabilities of the PCI Express bus. The maximum power available through PCI Express is 75 watts, so the GV-N66256DP can safely be said to draw less than this. It's actually a lot less than this.



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