Although most cases can handle most video cards, there are a number of cases or PCs that can't fit full sized AGP cards. In terms of OEM systems, a lot of those shipped are of the "slim PC" variety, and likely saddled with horrible onboard video. If you're lucky, you'll have an AGP slot, but the case will probably not allow such a card to fit. Though the MX440 is hardly something one would call a performance leader, it is better than most onboard solutions.
We've written quite a bit on the GeForce 4 MX here at VL, and more recently, David has reviewed the GF4 MX440-VTD8X, so I'm not going to go to deeply into the features of the MX, as I'm sure most of you are quite aware of them by now. Today, we'll be examining the , which is a mix between the older MSI GF4 MX440, and the newer MSI GF4 MX440-VTD8x.
MSI GF4 MX440-T8X
Click to Enlarge
One of the obvious changes from the previous GeForce 4 MX cards is the size. There are a number of small form factor PCs, notably those sold by MSI, that don't allow for a full sized card to fit. MSI addresses those concerns with the MX440-T8X by making it half the height of standard video cards. Although the card, by default, ships with a standard bracket, you can order smaller brackets from MSI to make the card fit in smaller cases. The card also features a TV-Out if you wish to hook this up to your television.
Click to Enlarge
The second change from the MX440-VTD8x is the use of passive cooling, instead of active cooling. The obvious benefit is the card will be noiseless, but the catch is overclocking will be limited by the lack of a fan. Changing the heatsink will be an easy affair though, as a couple of push fins hold the heatsink in place. MSI uses regular thermal paste, rather than an adhesive, and it's fairly easy to clean. This is a good thing, because in my opinion, they went a little to crazy with the thermal paste.
Click to Enlarge
The GeForce 4 MX series has been getting a bad rap since day one. Despite the "GeForce 4" in its name, unlike the rest of the GeForce 4 family, the GF4 MX lacks the nfiniteFX II Engine. What this means for the user is that all the fancy programmable pixel shaders, or the advanced DirectX 8 features, are not supported in hardware. The MX still has Transform and Lighting capabilities, and limited vertex shader support. I should add that the GPU is a MX440SE, which is a slower clock than the default MX440.
The Samsung memory used for the MX440-T8X is part number . It is the older TSOP packaging, and is rated for 200MHz (400MHz DDR).
Given the lack of active cooling, I wasn't expecting a whole lot of overclocking headroom. In anycase, I installed our good ole CoolBits hack and proceeded to testing. Depending on your driver version, nothing might happen when you install CoolBits. What you'll need to do is go into your registry, navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\NVIDIA Corporation\Global\NVTweak, and create a new dword value called CoolBits. Give this a value of 3, and you'll be all set.
For the MX440-T8X, the stock settings are 250 Core, and 400 Memory. With the memory I don't expect much headroom, but the GF4MX440 core's stock speed is 275 on other cards, so I'd figure I'd give it a shot. Luckily, 275MHz proved to be no problem.
We were able to max out our CoolBits settings of 315/500. The card ran very stable, and didn't exhibit any image quality issues at this speed. Not bad for something without any active cooling.
Epox 8RDA+ nForce2: Athlon XP 1700+ (11x139: 1529MHz), 2 x 256MB Crucial PC2700 Ram, MSI MX440-T8X, 120GB Western Digital SE 8MB Cache, Windows XP SP1, nForce 2 Unified Driver Package 2.0, Detonator 41.09.
We'll be pitting the MSI MX440-T8X against the MSI MX440VTD8x, as well as against itself, stock speed and overclocked.
The test software will be as follows:
Unreal Tournament 2003
Serious Sam: Second Encounter
Jedi Knight 2
Next Page - Village Mark and Jedi Knight 2