At the moment, we're in something of a transitional state. Currently, Intel is embracing the PCI-Express (PCIE) platform, while AMD is playing a bit of the waiting game. The Intel 915P/925X chipsets are just over two months old, and it's still pretty tough to find high-end PCIE cards. Although the reasons can be debated, in our opinion, the enthusiast market probably isn't ready for such a drastic change (new CPU platform, memory and video cards) as many are probably satisfied with the high-end systems with AGP cards they've been building in the months prior to June. On the OEM side, because system builders need to put together "fresh" systems for back-to-school, a lot of the high-end inventory is heading their way.
This is not to say that enthusiasts are not interested in the 915P/925X chipsets, but building the killer Doom 3 or Half-Life 2 rig based on the LGA775 platform will take some patience. A shows us what the current trend seems to be for video cards. As the rest of us wait for more "uber-PCIE" solutions to come our way, there is no shortage of the mid-to-low end parts (which in all honesty makes up for the majority of sales). Today we'll be checking out , which is based on the familiar NVIDIA FX5700 GPU, with the exception that the PCX5750 is a PCIE part.
" NVIDIA® UltraShadow" technology
" NVIDIA® CineFX" 2.0 engine
- NVIDIA UltraShadow technology for next-generation games
- True 128-bit precision computation
- Delivers 2x the floating-point pixel shader power over previous generation
" Advanced pixel shaders
" 128-bit studio-precision computation
" NVIDIA® Intellisample" high-resolution compression technology (HCT)
" NVIDIA® ForceWare" unified software environment (USE)
- NVIDIA® Unified Driver Architecture (UDA)
- Compatibility, Stability, Reliability
- NVIDIA® nView" multi-display technology
- Continual performance and feature updates over life of the product
" NVIDIA® Unified Driver Architecture (UDA)
" DirectX 9.0 Optimizations and Support
" OpenGL 1.5 Optimizations and Support
" NVIDIA® nView" multi-display technology
" NVIDIA® Digital Vibrance Control (DVC) 3.0
" Dual 400 MHz RAMDACs
" DVI Support
" Integrated TV encoder
" Integrated full hardware MPEG-2 decoder
" 64-phase video scaler
" .13u process technology
" Architected for Cg
" Designed for high-performance gaming
- Utilizes advanced memory technology (including DDR2) or blazing performance
- NVIDIA Intellisample HCT (texture, color and z compression) for screaming performance at high resolutions
- Delivers 3x the vertex processing power over previous generation
" Graphics Core: 256-bit
" Memory Interface: 128-bit
" Memory Bandwidth: 14.4GB/sec. (This value is for reference only, Depending on the type/size of memory implemented)
" Fill Rate: 1.9 billion pixels/sec.
" Vertices: 356 million/sec.
" Pixels per clock (peak): 4 pixels per clock
" Textures per pixel (max in a single rendering pass): 16 tetures per pixel
" Dual RAMDACs: 400MHz
The MSI PCX5750-TD128
Though we've never gotten too excited about bundles in the past, MSI did a major overhaul with the PCX5750-TD128. Inside their packaging, we have the PCX5750 and a boatload of new software. We have the standard driver CD, manual, and productivity software (), but they have also bundled URU, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, and XIII. Though the games itself are no longer "new", they are still fun to play and it sure beats the copies (I must have something like 10) of Morrowind and Ghost Recon we normally get.
The PCX5750-TD128 is a "normal" sized video card, and should not have any clearance issues with the majority of today's ATX motherboards and cases. We'll get more into it later, but the card features a heatsink and cooling fan for the GPU, and in the case of the PCX5750, the core speed is 425MHz for both 2D and 3D applications. The 128MB of ram are not passively cooled, and are aligned equally on both sides of the card.
Just beneath the GPU is the High Speed Interconnect (HSI) bridge chip. The GPU is a native AGP part, so the HSI bridge chip allows the GPU to interface with the PCIE interface. Some potential issues with using a bridge is AGP bandwidth limitations, and latency, though according to NVIDIA, with today's games and applications, there should be no penalty in performance compared to native PCIE solutions.
Since noise (as in too much of it) is becoming more of an issue as PCs become more powerful, using the PCX5750 was a good move on MSI's part in that the chip runs quite a bit cooler than the higher end GPUs. Coupled with their StarForce cooling, the cooler offers good performance at only 28dB. The HSI bridge chip is passively cooled.
The MSI PCX5750 uses 66pin TSOP-II based ram. The retail card is default clocked at 250MHz (DDR500), though the part itself is rated at 275MHz (DDR550), leaving us with some overclocking headroom (out of the box that is).
For the output options, you have DVI out, S-Video out and analog (VGA) out. MSI includes the S-Video cable, as well as a DVI-to-CRT adapter in case you want to output to two analog CRTs.