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Twins In Design
The ASUS 6600 card I received physically resembles the Creative card in nearly every aspect. Other than the fact that the boards have a different colour finish to them (Creative’s green, whilst ASUS’ light brown) and slightly differing components, the design layout on both PCBs are identical in nearly every aspect and follow Nvdia’s reference board. I guess this was expected as both boards were launched soon after Nvidia announced its NV10 chipset. Such early adopters and manufacturers would obviously opt to follow a reference design to expedite product entry into the market. In any case, see for yourselves:
Top: Asus's Card
Top: Creative's Card
Back View: Asus's Card
Back View: Creative's Card
There are a few differences between cards worth noting though:
Although both cards sport a heatsink + fan combo attached to the GeForce chip and do not protrude into the adjacent PCI slot, they do utilise a different design concept. The following pictures illustrate what I mean:
Top View: Asus's Fan/Heatsink
Top View: Creative's Integrated Fan/Heatsink
Side Profile of Asus's Fan/Heatsink Combo
Side Profile of Creative's Integrated Heatsink/Fan
For the Blaster Fan, its thermal conducting fins don’t really cover the entire heatsink and its fan is embedded in the heatsink itself. On the other hand, ASUS chose to use a more conventional heatsink + fan combo, with its thermal fins covering the whole heatsink and a fan mounted on top. However, in order to curb protrusion into the adjacent PCI slot, ASUS had to use a heatsink with rather small fins.
In any case, the ASUS combo tends to be slightly more protruding into the adjacent PCI slot, owing to its cascading fan / heatsink design. Thus, consumers should be wary that a board in the adjacent PCI slot may not fit if its profile conversely protrudes towards the AGP slot…
In order to evaluate the efficiency of each heatsink+fan combo, I placed my thermocouple on both heatsinks and ran similar benchmarks at similar overclocked speeds (which will be covered later). This was performed with the casing open and under an ambient temperature of 27 deg C just laterally from the cards. My findings though may not be conclusive, shows that the Blaster GeForce’s heatsink + fan combo having a slightly better heat transfer efficiency than ASUS’s. It never exceeded 38 deg C whilst the ASUS GeForce’s heatsink reached a max of 38.9 deg C. Guess perhaps the larger but fewer thermal fins on the Creative’s heatsink + fan combo had a slight edge in that regard. Even then, its difference is too minimal and may vary with each board.
VMI/VIP connectors + Missing ICs
Besides the obvious heatsink dissimilarity, it seems that ASUS has opted to use an 8-bit half-length VIP connector as compared to Creative’s full-length version. ASUS has claimed that this was part of the Nvidia specs that came with the GeForce. We are in the midst of verifying if this is the case...This VIP (Video Interface Port) connector can be used for additional third-party add-ons, in particular video capture cards or television tuners from ASUS.
Asus: Proprietary Half-Length VIP connecter
Creative: Full-length VIP connecter
Also from the pictures above, it is also noted that the Creative board has 2 additional ICs (part no: PI5C 3245Q Y9904AJC) near the top center of the picture. If you look at the wire routings from the ICs, this typically caters for the additional half of the VMI (VIP) connector of Creative's board.
Besides that, everything else is identical except for several insignificant onboard components (like capacitors, etc) that differed in make. Even the SDRAM used (also ESMT –5T on ASUS) is similar except for its production batch number. Let’s just hope that ASUS does eventually roll out DDR, 64MB and TV-Out versions soon…
ESMT SDRAM Marked -5 on the Asus GeForce
Similar ESMT SDRAM on the Creative GeForce
Similar at birth. But please tell me there’re games… Lots of games??!!