So you say your system is budget minded? You went out and obtained a system that was "minimal" as that was all you had at the time for an "update". A little on-board video with an AMD processor paired to it, not exactly state of the art, but not old enough to go all out for new right... Could you possibly add a little something, maybe something just shy of $150 to make her compete, make her alive with some gaming tooth?
Viperlair has in our grubby little hands the MSI NX8600GT Twin Turbo, while not a Porsche, I don't think we should take for granted the current mid-range deliverable, as not all that long ago, I am sure this card would have toppled the best we had.
|MSI NX8600GT Twin Turbo (80nm RV560@ 600MHz)
|Microsoft Vista Features (nVidia CineFX 5.0 Shading Architecture)
|nVidia SLI Technology
|256MB High-Speed GDDR3 memory (@ 1.6GHz)
|nVidia Digital Vibrance Control 3.0 Technology
|MSI vBIOS with MSI Live Update
As you can see in the first couple of lines above, MSI sends this to the end user clocking higher then nV spec's out. With the specification 8600GT GPU coming in at 540MHz and the GDDR3 memory at 1.4GHz, MSI awards its purchasers a nice 11.1% overclock on the GPU and 14.3% on the GDDR3. MSI has also packed their NX8600GT with the goods, especially considering a midrange card.
Just as most nV 7600GT solutions, the nV 8600GT lineup does not require external power, saving your PSU a little effort. MSI has packaged the card for ease of discernment as well as protection. Unpacking the box you find your graphics card, manual, cables and a CD.
First impressions were of minimalistic cooling, as some of the solutions out there have just become cumbersome at best, MSI has done a nice job of making the cooling solution flow with the product instead of overcoming it.
While the back side of the NX8600GT is nothing spectacular, you can see that the cooler MSI deploys is not the snap in variety, this puppy is bolted down. Now rather common, however still an associated coolness factor, you can see the heat pipe winding its way from the top of the card.
Looking over the I/O, we see what looks to be the normal DVI connectors, these however, are MSI Mazarine connectors and allow Video as well as Audio to be transmitted through the interface when you connect the DVI--> HDMI adapter. Also on the I/O plate is the Video Out connector (the one that looks like an S-Video connector) along with breather slits to the right.
MSI has also included a little button with "TT" labeled on it, this is your boost button, hence our Twin Turbo moniker. Twin Turbo represents a dual bios, and when the TT is off, the card runs at 600Mhz. Flip the switch, or in this case, press the button, and the core gets a 20MHz boost. The memory doesn't change though, staying at 1.6 GHz.
As usual, physically installing the NX8600GT Twin turbo was no problem at all, the driver side of the house, as I have come accustomed to from nVidia solutions, went smoothly as well.
I chose to download the latest version offered by nVidia from their site.