NVIDIA's GeForce 6600 GT GPUs were architected to run off PCI-Express natively. NVIDIA, however, quickly realised the merits of this excellent midrange GPU and decided that an AGP version, thereby covering all modern motherboards, was in order. The switch between conduits is simply a matter of adding in a bridging chip; that's what you see poking out just above the AGP slot. PNY's Verto 6600 GT AGP is reference-like in most respects. It's clocked in at 500MHz core and 900MHz memory (GDDR3, of course) and uses a basic, reference cooler. The only departure, aesthetically speaking, is PNY's labelling. The cooler brings with it the pitfalls associated with the reference design; it's obtrusively loud in a quiet system, and the fan speed cannot be manipulated by the user. I don't see why manufacturers can't all implement some form of user control over the fan's speed.
The NVIDIA HSI bridging chip from PCI-Express to AGP looks like a stretched S462 Athlon XP, doesn't it?. It's the same chip used when NVIDIA first bridged from AGP to PCIe back last year. As the name implies, its job is to translate the NV44 GPU's native PCI-Express to the older, but common, AGP variant. GeForce 6600 GTs run with 8 pixel pipelines that feed on to 4 ROPs, and GPUs are usually clocked in at around 500MHz, and, normally, GDDR3 memory at anywhere between 850-1200MHz, depending upon the board partner's thinking. PNY has stuck to the reference theme by adding in 4 128MBit of Samsung's 2ns-rated GDDR3 RAM. Expect it to overclock to the 1100MHz mark. It's interesting to note that most AGP models have lower-clocked memory than their PCI-Express counterparts, even though most use the same RAM.
The cooling apparatus is actually a two-piece affair. Both sections provide decent contact with the chips underneath, facilitated by a generous amount of thermal interface material. RAM chips are left partially bare. I suppose the additional cost of adding in dedicated RAMsinks is negated by having GDDR3 memory that's natively specified to run 100MHz faster than the card's rated speed of 900MHz.
Being an AGP model PNY's Verto 6600 GT needs an auxillary molex connector that most PCI-Express designs, thanks to the slot's extra juice, don't need. AGP also means no SLI capability, either.
Nothing much to get excited about 'round the back of the card. Dual-DVI would have been nice, but PNY makes do with a single DVI interface, HD15, and S-Video. There's no VIVO chip on this model, however.
It's a touch disappointing that PNY hasn't seen fit to run with a customised cooler with, perhaps, some form of fan control. Let's see if the bundle can enliven things up a little bit.