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MSI FX5200-TDR128: The GeForce FX 5200 series falls under the same price point as its older brother, the GeForce MX upon first release, but nVidia learned from their mistakes, and the FX 5200 looks to be a real option for budget gamers.

Date: May 12, 2003
Catagory: Video Cards
Written By:

One of the good things about the GeForce 4 MX was that it was cheap, and offered adequate performance for mainstream users. The problem was that it was only a GeForce 4 by name, but it shared very little with the "real" GeForce 4 (the Titanium line) in terms of features. It lacked hardware support for Direct X 8, and was outperformed by even the GeForce 3, which by name is a product cycle behind. The GeForce 4 MX never really caught on with gamers, even those on a budget.

The GeForce FX 5200 resembles the GeForce 4 MX in some ways. It's cheap, and can be found for well under 100$. It doesn't offer the same quality of components as its higher priced brothers, such as fancy cooling, or BGA memory. That's where the similarities end though, as the FX 5200 offers much more than the MX, when looking at the rest of their perspective families.

Today, we'll be looking at the . The card is an upper low-budget offering (we'll explain this later), and we'll determine if the price and performance make this something worth considering.


TV-out (S-Video connector), and DVI Connector
CineFX Shading Architecture
High-Performance, High-Precision, 3D Rendering Engine
High-Performance 2D Rendering Engine
Intellisample Technology
Advanced Display Pipeline with Full nView Capabilities
Digital Vibrance control (DVC) 3.0
Rocket Science For a System-Level Solution

The MSI FX5200-TDR128

The card arrived in a nicely decorated box, and I was immediately surprised with the weight. Opening it up, we have the card, along with a load of software, a remote, cables, manual and a DVI-to-VGA adapter. To breakdown the naming convention, the FX5200 is the NV34 part; the "T" is TV-Out; the "D" is Dual VGA; the "R" is the included remote; and the "128" is the amount of ram on the card.

The MSI FX5200-TDR128 is a standard sized card; i.e., smaller than the Ti4600, and smaller than the higher end FX cards. Like all of MSI's current products, the card is decorated with a red PCB. It does nothing for performance, but for you ricers out there, maybe it'll add 5-10 mental framerates. It is an AGP8x part, but will work fine in AGP4x motherboards.

The NV34 is based on the 0.15u fab process, and is clocked at 250MHz. It's not exactly what I would call a barn burner, but the card is not targeted at the extreme power user. The big change from the GF4 MX is obviously full support for the DX9 specification. Seeing how the MX didn't even support DX8, this is a major improvement.

One change from the reference FX5200 is the cooling. The MSI FX5200 uses active cooling, rather than passive. The cooling is provided by an impressive copper orb heatsink/fan, which a T.O.P II (Thermal Obviation Protection + Smartfan) cooling part. Here's a bit from MSI's website:

The cooling performance is directly related to the stability of the new-generation GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) and prevents from overheat when overclocking. On the other hand, as the GPU is becoming more complicated and powerful, the silence of a qualified VGA cooler is more important than ever because the total system cooling requirement and noise is getting higher.

The main benefit of this method of cooling is you'll have more success at overclocking with an active copper cooler than you would with a passive aluminum heatsink. At the lowest setting, the fan only puts out 8db, and at the highest setting, 25.5db. Now, you have no control over the fan speeds, as the fan automatically adjusts depending on how the card is being used.

The FX5200-TDR128 is equipped with 128MB of DDR ram. The memory is of the TSOP-II variety, and the part number is K4D261638E. , the memory is rated up to 250MHz (DDR500). MSI clocks the ram much lower though, running it at 200MHz (DDR400), so you should have some good OC potential.

Your I/O options are pretty decent, as you have both a DVI and VGA connection readily available. In case you want to use two VGA connections, you have a DVI-to-VGA adapter, which will give dual monitor fans some options. You also have a TV out connection if you want to output to a television.

Next Page - Test Setup


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