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MSI Starforce GeForce 4 MX 420

Written By:
Date Posted: April 17, 2002

Today we will be taking a look at a graphics card by the number one selling nVidia graphic card manufacturer, MSI. As many of you may know, MSI is a favorite amongst PC enthusiasts as well as OEM's because of their ability to produce stable, high performance boards at a low cost. I consider MSI to be on the same level of Asus and Abit when it comes to stability, and a lot less expensive then the other two. I would like to thank MSI for providing the Viperlair team with MSI review samples, including the one I am reviewing today.


nVidia® GeForce4 MX 420 Chipset
250MHz Core Clock
MSI DVD Player
MSI Live Update Series
MSI VGA Driver, MSI 3D!Turbo Experience
Supports Windows® 9x, ME, NT, 2000
Supreme 3D Games: Aquanox
Plus 7 in 1 Games Collection

The Accuview Antialiasing (AA)
The Accuview Antialiasing subsystem with advanced multisampling hardware delivers full-scene antialiased quality at performance levels never before seen.

nView Multi-display Technology
The nView hardware and software technology combination delivers maximum flexibility for multi-display options, and provides unprecedented end-user control of the desktop experience.

Lightspeed Memory Architecture (LMA) II "
The NVIDIA® Lightspeed Memory Architecture II (LMA II) incorporates a number of revolutionary advances. These advances dramatically improve the memory bandwidth efficiency of the GeForce4 graphics processing units (GPUs), enabling them to deliver new levels of performance and image quality.

MSI SafeBIOS" (Two BIOS In One Chip) technology
Guaranteed Boot-Up!
One-click, Live VGA BIOS detected & Auto-updated
Microsoft® IE 4.0 and later version is needed

The Starforce GeForce 4MX420 is based on, as the name suggests, the GeForce 4MX 420 GPU. The MX420 is the entry level GeForce 4MX chip. To clear something up, the GeForce 4MX line is more of a successor to the GeForce 2MX line, and not the GeForce 3, as the name implies. The name was a marketing strategy by nVidia, as the GeForce 4 name obviously is appealing to your average consumer. The Geforce 4MX line has no true DirectX 8 support, meaning that while your newer games will indeed run on this card, they will not be able to use pixel shaders and environment bump mapping as the developers intended.

Why release the GeForce 4MX line then? The answer is simple. Profit. nVidia plans on phasing out the GeForce 3 line, which, in my opinion, offers a lot of bang for your buck, especially the ti200 line of cards. nVidia realizes that they will sell more boards marketed as GeForce 4 MX's than they would if they were marketed as GeForce 3 MX's, due to the fact that GeForce 4MX sounds newer, and therefore better, than a GeForce 3MX would sound. Keep in mind, the GeForce 4MX uses a couple of the GeForce 4 Ti (NV 25) features. It features nView, which allows for multiple monitors on a single card. We cover this in detail in our nView article.

Also making an appearance is Quincunx AntiAliasing, an AntiAliasing mode that offers the image quality of 4X at the speed hit of 2X. I will test be testing Quincunx in this review.

One other feature that the MX uses is Lightspeed Memory Architecture 2, which allows for faster memory implementation. The GPU runs at a very modest 250 MHZ, while the RAM runs at 166 MHZ. For comparison, the GeForce 4 MX460 is clocked at 300 MHZ, while the RAM is clocked at 250 MHZ. The major difference here is the memory clock, as the MX460 has an 334 MHZ advantage over the MX420. 334 MHZ? Keep in mind that the MX460 uses DDR, whereas the MX420 uses SDRAM. The prices also vary greatly between both cards. Street prices show the MX460 costs about $100.00 more than the MX420. A very large price difference that, as far as I am concerned, isn't justified. For a further explanation of the technology behind the GeForce 4MX I strongly suggest reading our article.

Next Page - Packaging and First impressions


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