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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [02.15.05]
Manufactured by: Gigabyte

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Gigabyte GA-K8NXP-SLI Motherboard $215 $203.68 198.00

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Not Quite The First

Okay, so maybe Gigabyte was a little overzealous when they first announced the 3D1 as "the first dual core gaming card" or something along those lines. In fact, they have since corrected that error, which is nice to see. That doesn't stop the 3D1 from being an intriguing product in more ways than one. What is the 3D1 exactly? Scope this out:

The 3D1 most certainly is not the first dual core graphics card; Voodoo 2 cards have always relied on multiple chips to support multitexturing, and other solutions took that even further like the ATI Rage Fury MAXX (which was one of our first reviews). However, it is the first one in a long time, and it uses the latest mid-range GPU cores available from NVIDIA, and uses their SLI technology to do provide dual core gaming. In effect, it is the same as using a pair of 6600GT's in SLI on an NFORCE4 SLI enabled motherboard.

One Drawback

Right of the bat, we have to tell you of one major drawback of the 3D1 product: It will only be available as a bundle with Gigabyte's GA-K8NXP-SLI Motherboard. Not that the board itself isn't good; in fact it is essentially the same as their GA-K8NXP-9, which we loved.

The problem is, this card was only intended to ever be used on that motherboard. It may work in single GPU mode on other boards, but results will vary on other SLI boards.

Gigabyte has priced this combo to be a better value than buying a similar SLI motherboard, and a pair of 6600GT video cards. MSRP is expected to be $550 when it hits the shelves this week. To compare, we priced out this identical motherboard and found it as low as $215.00 at Newegg also carries Gigabyte's own 6600GT 128MB for $188 each. This brings the grand total to roughly $590. So you do save money buying the bundle. In the meantime, we'll try to find out if any other advantages are given.

Some Misinformation

If you take Gigabyte's specs at face value, you will be misinformed on the true features of this card. Since it's a dual GPU card, there are no previously defined specs to go by, so here are some clarifications:

"First NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT card with 256MB DDRIII memory"

Since the 3D1 essentially operates as two individual cores running in SLI, they do not share memory with each other. Each core gets 128MB of memory, and no more.

"First NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT card to support 256-bit memory bandwidth"

Gigabyte seems to be stretching things even further with this claim, adding up each GPU's bus to make it seem twice as wide as it really is. Again, each core has a 128 bit bus to the memory, and will operate as such.

"Advanced dual fan cooling system that gently pulls cool air in and blows hot air out with minimal noise"

This comes in a bit later, but since I was looking at the press release I thought I would mention it here. After a few days of running this thing on an open bench, I can tell you that it is by no means quiet at all. Then again, I guess they aren't really saying that; they just claim the cooler works with 'minimal noise'. I tend to think a pair of stock 6600GT's will be quieter than this beast though.

Now I don't want to make it seem like I am ripping on Gigabyte right off the bat! Quite the contrary; these are important specs, and need to be made clear. As you'll see later on, memory size and bus width has a great factor on how the 6600GT performs in SLI mode.

Before we get to that though, let's take a closer look at the video card itself:

Next Page: (The Card)