Graphics Power

By Jason Cross  |  Print this article Print


Desktop-as-a-Service Designed for Any Cloud ? Nutanix Frame

Build It: Last year's $800 gaming PC was a bargain, but had significant compromises. This year's model is an $800 hot-rod gaming rig that offers impressive performance. What a difference a year makes!


This is really at the core of our entire system. Games rely on graphics card horsepower more than any other application, and a good GPU can make or break your gaming box. One of the best deals going is the GeForce 6600GT—we found good prices on XFX's model. It would be nice to push up to a 256MB graphics card, but that's just not in the budget.

At least we still have a current-generation card, with full support for all DirectX 9 features including shader model 3.0. This should be enough muscle to run almost any game at 1024x768 with the details cranked up. With some games, you might even get away with higher resolutions. 

Product:XFX GeForce 6600GT 128MB


Price:$163 ( check prices)

Pros:Extremely cheap; great driver support from Nvidia; doesn't require additional power.

Cons:Only 128MB of video RAM; not quite fast enough for Shader Model 3.0 and HDR games coming up.

Summary:You'll definitely want to upgrade this as the midrange cards using the next generation of PC graphics chips hits the market, but for now it's a great deal.


Jason Cross Jason was a certified computer geek at an early age, playing with his family's Apple II when he was still barely able to write. It didn't take long for him to start playing with the hardware, adding in 80-column cards and additional RAM as his family moved up through Apple II+, IIe, IIgs, and eventually the Macintosh. He was sucked into Intel based side of the PC world by his friend's 8088 (at the time, the height of sophisticated technology), and this kicked off a never-ending string of PC purchases and upgrades.

Through college, where he bounced among several different majors before earning a degree in Asian Studies, Jason started to pull down freelance assignments writing about his favorite hobby—,video and computer games. It was shortly after graduation that he found himself, a thin-blooded Floridian, freezing his face off at Computer Games Magazine in Vermont, where he founded the hardware and technology section and built it up over five years before joining the ranks at ExtremeTech and moving out to beautiful northern California. When not scraping up his hands on the inside of a PC case, you can invariably find Jason knee-deep in a PC game, engrossed in the latest console title, or at the movie theater.


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