Historically chess was a popular benchmark for mainframes and personal computers alike. In the 1980s, Sun, Apollo and Apple all offered more sophisticated machines for business and research. One the Pentium MMX processor arrived, the PC was finally able to achieve enough performance for 3D gaming.
Early 3D games motivated innovation and graphics cards began to offer hardware assisted functionality to help game programming. Eventually the rise of sophisticated specialized graphics made it possible to produce fully immersive 3D games.
Halo: Combat Evolved originally was considered a very demanding game when it was released for the PC. This was due to the Xbox having a Pentium III running at 733 MHz with 64MB of memory. In 2003 many older machines did not have this much memory or a fast enough processor. The new Penium IV however was much more powerful and it had the new AGP 8x slot which allowed for better graphics.
Halo included a timedemo with a command line argument. This allowed reviewers to compare video cards and it managed to create enough competition that eventually the game became playable even with 1920×1080 panels.
With the explosive growth in video card performance the humble 6600 GT SLI cannot compare with even one of the SMX units in our EVGA GTX 660 Ti.