You just have to know that any card with 32bpp capabilities will no doubt render a decent image on your monitor screen. The GA-660 takes a step beyond offering truly remarkable quality in both 2D and 3D. However, I would caution that moving to the latest release drivers (v. 2.03) somewhat denigrates this. While still very good, the drivers on the included CD-ROM provide the best overall quality. The v.2.03 drivers provide a step up in performance at a modicum of consequence to the image quality factor. I do want you to know that it is there though. I have provided four views that were captured using the GA-660 below. Two are 800x600 captures and two are 1024x768 captures. Both have been converted to .jpg format and this will reduce the image quality somewhat. Please take this into consideration if you choose to download the full-size images.
The GA-660 offers some measure of contol in the form of a a taskbar applet that lets you into the "display Properties" contol panel and also lets you set your monitor's properties as well as a few tweaks for D3D and OpenGL. Most of these will cost a bit in the performance dept. but, will ultimately generate screen images that are without peer at their default values.
Our performance testing was done on both VIA and ALi-based mainboards and while the larger L2 cache on the EPoX board gave the system an overall perfomance edge, we were still impressed with the performance on Gigabyte's own GA-5AX super7 mainboard. You will run into some problems when running the newest release drivers and CPUs other than those with 3DNow! support. While the system run under the VIA MVP3 wing was reasonably stable, the GA-5AX had some pretty severe incompatibilities using Intel's P233MMX, Cyrix MII 366 and Rise's mP6 PR266 processors. While they would run the majority of benchmarks listed below, they would often totally breakdown while loading software or, even in the simplest of business-related apps such as Outlook Express, e-mail would result in an unreadable screen.
|Test Configuration for Gigabyte GA-660 Graphics Tests Test Configuration for Gigabyte GA-660 Graphics Tests|
|Mainboards|| EPoX EP-MVP3G-M
1MB L2 Cache
Gigabyte GA-5AX 512KB L2 Cache
|Chipsets|| EPoX - VIA MVP3
Gigabyte - Ali Aladdin V
|Processor(s)|| AMD K6-2 450MHz
AMD K6-III 400MHz
|Memory|| 2x64MB PC100
Corsair CM 654S64-BX2
|Hard Drive|| Quantum
12.7G Ultra ATA/33
|Graphics Adapter||Gigabyte GA-660 32MB AGP|
|Operating System||Windows 98|
When you look at the benchmark scores below, please take into consideration that all were obtained at a high (1024x768) resolution and (32bpp) color depth and were taken using the GA-660 in standard mode with no tweaks to the system whatsoever. Running the GA-660 in "turbo Mode" offered an across the board gain of around 6% but, as much as 9% in Forsaken and, although unrecorded, Unreal using the 2.25 beta patch. I chose two popular super7 system boards to run the tests and you will notice a marked increase in the VIA MVP3 equipped EPoX EP-MVP3G-M system board which you can almost assuredly attribute to its larger 1MB L2 cache. Apart from the system boards and L2 cache sizes, the system were similarly equipped. (see table above)
I kept receiving error messages in Ziff-Davis' 3D Winbench 99. All had to do with the reported speed of the CPU in certain individual tests.
Default OpenGL performance in Quake II's Demo1 and Crusher Timedemos may seem a bit low but remember, these frame rates were obtained at 1024x768 using large textures and with the texture quality maxxed out. These test were not run using AMD's 3DNow! optimized Quake II drivers.
I used Rage's Incoming and Acclaim's Forsaken to measure the GA-660's real world D3D performance. Again at a high resolution and color depth.
And finally, Futuremark's 3D Mark 99 MAX. I do have to admit that I did expect slightly higher marks here. Since the new release drivers are based on nVidia's Detonator drivers which, I understand are optimized for 3DNow! extensions.
I have to give Gigabyte high marks for keeping the price down and performance and stability high on the GA-660. While the software bundle leaves a bit to be desired, it would probably result in a cost increase and I prefer that the money I spend on hardware not pay for software I generally won't use. I am also impressed that Gigabyte has spent some effort on keeping their drivers fresh for the GA-660. While Asus, whose V3800 has been out longer, offers the same old stagnant drivers on it's web site, The GA-660 has already updated theirs.
|If you're using an ALi Aladdin V-based system
you can be assured of stability provided that you are using an AMD K6-2/III processor and
MVP3 users will be happy to note that the GA-660 comes problem free.
The outstanding image quality, solid frame rates even at exceptionally high resolutions and color depth, make the Gigabyte GA-660 a great value for money and a graphics card that will meet all of your needs into the next millennium.