I am unaware of the PCI-e version not having extra pipes to unlock, but I have never looked into the subject either. Regardless, even with only 12 pipes its a good card. Even if it did, the sucess rate of unlocking those pipes has gotten very low, so it is not something you can count on anyways. Based on price range go 6600GT, 6800 or 6800GT and either way it will be a good card.
BE HEARD - Techonvent
DS3 | E6400 - 3.2GHz 24/7 | 2GB OCZ PLat. PC6400 | 6800GT | Zippy 460W
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