Gigabyte, best known perhaps for its fine line of mainboards, has for some time now turned their expertise to manufacturing a pretty fair line of graphics accelerators. Their current offering in the high performance arena is the GA-660. Based on nVidia's TNT2 chip, the card comes with 16 or 32MB of quality -7ns Samsung SDRAM and also offers a model (GA-660F) capable of flat panel digital display.
GIGABYTE GA-660 KEY FEATURES
| ADVANCED 3D FEATURES
| 2D ACCELERATION
|Resolution||Color Depth||Max. Refresh Rate|
|Up to 640X480||8/16/32||240Hz|
With an MSRP of $170.00 the GA-660 is one of the lowest priced of the TNT2 cards currently available. Consequently you won't find a whole lot of extras. The card ships brightly boxed with a reasonably decent User's Guide and driver's CD. This holds drivers for Windows 9x and NT 4.0 as well as Windows 2000 beta drivers, runtime libraries for DirectX 6.1, a BIOS flash utility and a few rather useless utilities CDWizard 98 from CyberLink, HighPoint XStore Pro, an OEM version of Trend's PC-cillin and the Final Reality 1.01 benchmark. Gigabyte has already released updated drivers based on nVidia's Detonator ver 1.88 that most assuredly boost the card's performance as well as compatibility but the Win 9x drivers on the CD are good enough to get you up and running.The User's Guide is fairly well illustrated and informative but seems to have been translated with a Chinese/English dictionary. Still, it does get the point across and installation of both the hardware and software are thoroughly covered.
Smaller than many typical TNT2 cards, Gigabyte built the GA-660 on a cool blue tinted PCB with 4 - 8MB -7ns (143MHz) SDRAMs and the TNT2 chip itself is cooled with a heatsink/fan combo of small but effective proportion.
This heatsink/fan combo features a ball bearing fan that is remarkably quiet and is attached to an additional heatsink on the reverse of the board. This helps to keep the GA-660 cool even under the most stressful of operations.
Unlike the majority of TNT2 cards in current release, Gigabyte has opted not to include the means to overclock the graphics engine or memory by means of a software utility, choosing instead to allow users to set the card in "Turbo Mode" by means of a jumper setting on the card itself. I have heard allusions to including a software utility to achieve this same end in future driver releases but have heard nothing concrete from Gigabyte themselves. The GA-660's standard mode provides for a core frequency of 125MHz and a memory speed of 150MHz. Setting the card to "Turbo Mode" increased these settings to 156MHz and 156MHz respectively and with -7ns SDRAMs it is rather unlikely that you would get stable performance increasing the memory to much more than that although you could conceivably get 166MHz out of them. One cool feature of the Turbo setting is that the BIOS reports it onscreen at boot up so you'll know from the get whether it's on or off.