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MSI GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB PCI-E
Performance Analysis in 2560x1600.
Product briefs for
MSI RADEON X1300 (RX1300) 256MB PCI-E
MSI RADEON X1300 PRO (RX1300 PRO-TD256E) 256MB PCI-E
MSI RADEON X1600 XT (RX1600 XT-T2D256E) 256MB PCI-E
MSI RADEON X1650 PRO (RX1650 PRO-T2D256E) 256MB PCI-E
MSI RADEON X1950 XTX (RX1950 XTX-VT2D512E) 512MB PCI-E

December 13, 2006






TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Introduction
  2. Video cards' features
  3. Testbed configurations, benchmarks
  4. Test results
  5. Conclusions



It will be an unusual article this time. The fact is our testlab got hold of several video cards based on RADEON chips of various series, plus a new card based on GeForce 8800 GTX. But they all came from the same manufacturer - MSI.

As we haven't tested the 8800 GTX card in the highest resolution yet (2560x1600), we'll get down to it now. Our title hints that the only thing GeForce 8800 GTX has from MSI is its label. It's always difficult to speak of vendors as manufacturers, if they only buy video cards from NVIDIA, stick their labels and pack them in their boxes (with individual bundles, of course). I repeat: all GeForce 8800 GTX cards are manufactured by third-party plants, NVIDIA partners just buy ready cards from the latter and claim them as their own.

As Taiwanese MSI works for two fronts, we also got products based on AMD GPUs (ATI). They are not new, of course. Except for the X1950 XTX. But it's not our fault that these cards found their way to our testlab so late. We should show these cards to our readers and tell them what they are like.

So let's get down to examination of the cards.

Video Cards



MSI RADEON X1300 (RX1300) 256MB PCI-E
GPU: RADEON X1300 (RV515)

Interface: PCI-Express x16

GPU frequencies (ROPs/Shaders): 450/450 MHz (nominal — 450 (450) MHz)

Memory frequencies (physical (effective)): 400 (800) MHz (nominal — 275 (550) MHz)

Memory bus width: 128bit

Vertex processors: 2

Pixel processors: 4

Unified processors: -

Texture Processors: 4

ROPs: 4

Dimensions: 160x100x15mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: red.

RAMDACs/TDMS: integrated into GPU.

Output connectors: 1xVGA (s-Sub), 1xDVI, TV-Out.

VIVO: not available

TV-out: integrated into GPU.

Multi-GPU operation: CrossFire (Software).




MSI RADEON X1300 PRO (RX1300 PRO-TD256E) 256MB PCI-E
GPU: RADEON X1300 PRO (RV515)

Interface: PCI-Express x16

GPU frequencies (ROPs/Shaders): 600/600 MHz (nominal — 600 (600) MHz)

Memory frequencies (physical (effective)): 400 (800) MHz (nominal — 400 (800) MHz)

Memory bus width: 128bit

Vertex processors: 2

Pixel processors: 4

Unified processors: -

Texture Processors: 4

ROPs: 4

Dimensions: 160x100x15mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: red.

RAMDACs/TDMS: integrated into GPU.

Output connectors: 1xVGA (s-Sub), 1xDVI, TV-Out.

VIVO: not available

TV-out: integrated into GPU.

Multi-GPU operation: CrossFire (Software).




MSI RADEON X1600 XT (RX1600 XT-T2D256E) 256MB PCI-E
GPU: RADEON X1600 XT (RV530)

Interface: PCI-Express x16

GPU frequencies (ROPs/Shaders): 400/800 MHz (nominal — 590 (590) MHz)

Memory frequencies (physical (effective)): 690 (1380) MHz (nominal — 690 (1380) MHz)

Memory bus width: 128bit

Vertex processors: 5

Pixel processors: 12

Unified processors: -

Texture Processors: 4

ROPs: 4

Dimensions: 160x100x15mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: red.

RAMDACs/TDMS: integrated into GPU.

Output connectors: 2xDVI, TV-Out.

VIVO: not available

TV-out: integrated into GPU.

Multi-GPU operation: CrossFire (Software).




MSI RADEON X1650 PRO (RX1650 PRO-T2D256E) 256MB PCI-E
GPU: RADEON X1650 PRO (RV530)

Interface: PCI-Express x16

GPU frequencies (ROPs/Shaders): 400/800 MHz (nominal — 590 (590) MHz)

Memory frequencies (physical (effective)): 690 (1380) MHz (nominal — 690 (1380) MHz)

Memory bus width: 128bit

Vertex processors: 5

Pixel processors: 12

Unified processors: -

Texture Processors: 4

ROPs: 4

Dimensions: 160x100x15mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: red.

RAMDACs/TDMS: integrated into GPU.

Output connectors: 2xDVI, TV-Out.

VIVO: not available

TV-out: integrated into GPU.

Multi-GPU operation: CrossFire (Software).




MSI RADEON X1950 XTX (RX1950 XTX-VT2D512E) 512MB PCI-E
GPU: RADEON X1950 XTX (R580+)

Interface: PCI-Express x16

GPU frequencies (ROPs/Shaders): 650/650 MHz (nominal — 650 (650) MHz)

Memory frequencies (physical (effective)): 1000 (2000) MHz (nominal — 1000 (2000) MHz)

Memory bus width: 256bit

Vertex processors: 8

Pixel processors: 48

Unified processors: -

Texture Processors: 16

ROPs: 16

Dimensions: 220x100x15+25 mm (the last number is the thickness of the external cooler unit).

PCB color: red.

RAMDACs/TDMS: integrated into GPU.

Output connectors: 2xDVI, TV-Out.

VIVO: available (RAGE Theater)

TV-out: integrated into GPU.

Multi-GPU operation: CrossFire (requires a master card).




MSI GeForce 8800 GTX (NX8800 GTX-T2D768E) 768MB PCI-E
GPU: GeForce 8800 GTX (G80)

Interface: PCI-Express x16

GPU frequencies (ROPs/Shaders): 575/1350 MHz (nominal — 575 (1350) MHz)

Memory frequencies (physical (effective)): 900 (1800) MHz (nominal — 900 (1800) MHz)

Memory bus width: 384bit

Vertex processors: -

Pixel processors: -

Unified processors: 128

Texture Processors: 32

ROPs: 24

Dimensions: 270x100x32mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: black.

RAMDACs/TDMS: in a separate chip.

Output connectors: 2xDVI, TV-Out.

VIVO: not available

TV-out: integrated into GPU.

Multi-GPU operation: SLI (integrated into GPU).






MSI RADEON X1300 (RX1300) 256MB PCI-E; MSI RADEON X1300 PRO (RX1300 PRO-TD256E) 256MB PCI-E; MSI RADEON X1600 XT (RX1600 XT-T2D256E) 256MB PCI-E; MSI RADEON X1650 PRO (RX1650 PRO-T2D256E) 256MB PCI-E
The video card has 256 MB of GDDR2 SDRAM allocated in eight chips on the front and back sides of the PCB.

Hynix memory chips (GDDR2). 2.5 ns memory access time, which corresponds to 400 (800) MHz.




MSI GeForce 8800 GTX (NX8800 GTX-T2D768E) 768MB PCI-E
The video card has 768 MB of GDDR3 SDRAM allocated in twelve chips on the front side of the PCB.

Samsung (GDDR3) memory chips. 1.1ns memory access time, which corresponds to 900 (1800) MHz.




MSI RADEON X1950 XTX (RX1950 XTX-VT2D512E) 512MB PCI-E
The video card has 512 MB of GDDR4 SDRAM allocated in eight chips on the front side of the PCB.

Samsung memory chips (GDDR4). 0.9 ns memory access time, which corresponds to 1100 (2200) MHz.






Comparison with the reference design, front view
MSI RADEON X1300 (RX1300) 256MB PCI-E; MSI RADEON X1300 PRO (RX1300 PRO-TD256E) 256MB PCI-E
Reference card ATI RADEON X1300 PRO
MSI RADEON X1600 XT (RX1600 XT-T2D256E) 256MB PCI-E; MSI RADEON X1650 PRO (RX1650 PRO-T2D256E) 256MB PCI-E
MSI RADEON X1950 XTX (RX1950 XTX-VT2D512E) 512MB PCI-E
Reference card ATI RADEON X1950 XTX
MSI GeForce 8800 GTX (NX8800 GTX-T2D768E) 768MB PCI-E
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX


Comparison with the reference design, back view
MSI RADEON X1300 (RX1300) 256MB PCI-E; MSI RADEON X1300 PRO (RX1300 PRO-TD256E) 256MB PCI-E
Reference card ATI RADEON X1300 PRO
MSI RADEON X1600 XT (RX1600 XT-T2D256E) 256MB PCI-E; MSI RADEON X1650 PRO (RX1650 PRO-T2D256E) 256MB PCI-E
MSI RADEON X1950 XTX (RX1950 XTX-VT2D512E) 512MB PCI-E
Reference card ATI RADEON X1950 XTX
MSI GeForce 8800 GTX (NX8800 GTX-T2D768E) 768MB PCI-E
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX


MSI evidently saved on the X1650/X1600 cards. They are based on the X1300 design with slow DDR2 memory. So unfortunately, the 1600XT and the 1650PRO are equipped with low-frequency memory.

X1300-based products also differ from the reference design. But there is nothing extraordinary about it. It should be noted that memory frequency of the X1300 is noticeably higher than the nominal. The X1300 differs from the X1300 PRO only in GPU frequencies.

The other cards are bought from ATI or NVIDIA - they are reference cards. Except for some nuances.

The cards have TV-Out with a unique jack. You will need a special bundled adapter to output video to a TV-set via S-Video or RCA You can read about the TV-Out in more detail here. The X1950XTX-based card is also equipped with Video-In. You can read about Video-In in more detail here.

Analog monitors with d-Sub (VGA) interface are connected with special DVI-to-d-Sub adapters. Maximum resolutions and frequencies:

  • 240 Hz Max Refresh Rate
  • 2048 x 1536 x 32bit x85Hz Max - analog interface
  • 2560 x 1600 @ 60Hz Max - digital interface

What concerns MPEG2 playback features (DVD-Video), we analyzed this issue in 2002. Little has changed since that time. CPU load during video playback on all modern video cards does not exceed 25%.

Now about the cooling systems.

Let's get back to nuances here. The fact is, the X1950 XTX is equipped with a water cooling system from ThermalTake, we've already reviewed it.






But this fact has a minimal effect on overclocking efficiency. As is well known, the new cooler in the X1950XTX cards is not noisy. I don't know why they complicated things. Well, at least they didn't make it worse. And perhaps some overclockers may get lucky with raising frequencies. Memory chips get quite hot, and they were deprived of centralized cooling through the cooler base - not good.

And MSI GeForce 8800 GTX (NX8800 GTX-T2D768E) 768MB PCI-E is just a reference card. The cooling system from NVIDIA is a reference one, we have reviewed it in detail. So there is no point in dwelling on it.

Bundle

MSI RADEON X1300 (RX1300) 256MB PCI-E; MSI RADEON X1300 PRO (RX1300 PRO-TD256E) 256MB PCI-E
The bundle is poor: User's Manual, CD with drivers, DVI-to-d-Sub and S-Video-to-RCA adapters.


MSI RADEON X1600 XT (RX1600 XT-T2D256E) 256MB PCI-E; MSI RADEON X1650 PRO (RX1650 PRO-T2D256E) 256MB PCI-E
The previous bundle is reinforced with two DVI-to-d-Sub adapters, plus an adapter for composite output.




MSI RADEON X1950 XTX (RX1950 XTX-VT2D512E) 512MB PCI-E
Thee previous bundle is supplemented with TV cords and an external power adapter.




MSI GeForce 8800 GTX (NX8800 GTX-T2D768E) 768MB PCI-E
User manual, system software CDs, two games, two DVI-to-d-Sub adapters, composite output adapter, two external power adapters.






Packages

MSI RADEON X1300 (RX1300) 256MB PCI-E; MSI RADEON X1300 PRO (RX1300 PRO-TD256E) 256MB PCI-E

Small boxes of the old design in black colors. The differences are only in labels on the box. The cards inside are secured in cardboard, which is easily breakable.




MSI RADEON X1600 XT (RX1600 XT-T2D256E) 256MB PCI-E; MSI RADEON X1650 PRO (RX1650 PRO-T2D256E) 256MB PCI-E

It's a similar box, but the black gamma is replaced by the yellow one. The other components are the same.




MSI RADEON X1950 XTX (RX1950 XTX-VT2D512E) 512MB PCI-E

I already wrote that several years ago MSI used black boxes. Though the logo and brand colors have kept to traditional light blue for many years already. And now we can see the boxes in the same style.




MSI GeForce 8800 GTX (NX8800 GTX-T2D768E) 768MB PCI-E

For both MSI product lines.






Installation and Drivers

Testbed configuration:

  • Intel Core2 Duo (775 Socket) based computer
    • CPU: Intel Core2 Duo Extreme X6800 (2930 MHz) (L2=4096K)
    • Motherboard: EVGA nForce 680i SLI on NVIDIA nForce 680i
    • RAM: 2 GB DDR2 SDRAM Corsair 1142MHz (CAS (tCL)=5; RAS to CAS delay (tRCD)=5; Row Precharge (tRP)=5; tRAS=15)
    • HDD: WD Caviar SE WD1600JD 160GB SATA

  • Operating system: Windows XP SP2 DirectX 9.0c
  • Monitor: Dell 3007WFP (30") (and Mitsubishi Diamond Pro 2070sb (21")).
  • ATI CATALYST 6.11; NVIDIA Drivers 96.94.

VSync is disabled.

Test results: performance comparison

We used the following test applications:

  • Splinter Cell Chaos of Theory v.1.04 (Ubisoft) — DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, maximum test settings, shaders 3.0 (for NVIDIA cards)/shaders 2.0 (for ATI cards); HDR OFF!

  • Half-Life2 (Valve/Sierra) — DirectX 9.0, demo (ixbt01 . The tests were carried out with maximum quality, option -dxlevel 90, presets for video card types are removed from dxsupport.cfg.

  • FarCry 1.4beta (Crytek/UbiSoft), DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, demo from the Research level (-DEVMODE startup option), Very High test settings. We used the beta patch, because it offers HDR+AA, unlike the release.

  • DOOM III (id Software/Activision) — OpenGL, multitexturing, test settings — High Quality (ANIS8x), demo ixbt1 (33MB!). We have a sample batch file to start the game automatically with increased speed and reduced jerking (precaching) d3auto.rar. (DON'T panic when the screen goes black for 5-10 seconds after the first menu. The demo will follow.)

  • 3DMark05 1.20 (FutureMark) — DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, trilinear filtering.

  • The Chronicles Of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay 1.10 (Starbreeze/Vivendi) — OpenGL, multitexturing, maximum texture quality, Shader 2.0, demo 44.

    I wish to thank Rinat Dosayev (AKA 4uckall) and Alexei Ostrovski (AKA Ducche), who have created a demo for this game. I also want to thank Alexei Berillo AKA Somebody Else for his help.

  • F.E.A.R. v.1.05 (Multiplayer) (Monolith/Sierra) — DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, maximum test settings, Soft shadows disabled.

  • Call Of Duty 2 DEMO (Ubisoft) — DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, test settings — maximum, shaders 2.0, tested in Benchemall, demo and a startup script, readme contains necessary instructions



Video cards' performance

We should speak of resolutions here. First of all, it concerns the most powerful accelerators, such as GeForce 8800 GTX, to say nothing of SLI. It's no secret that the potential of such accelerators in some games even under heavy load is so great that the overall performance is still limited by system resources. So it makes sense to increase resolution, which will load an accelerator and make a game look better. Many users will run across limitations of their monitors, of course. So you should think about it before you buy a new video card. It's silly to buy GeForce 8800 GTX, if you have a 15"-17" monitor that can provide only 1024x768 or 1280x1024. Yes, you can find a game that will load an accelerator so much that you won't see transcendent performance even in 1024. But there are lots of games, where accelerators do not reach their full potential even in 1280x1024, hence they are limited by system resources. There cannot be a single recipe for an accelerator/monitor combo. It's up to a user to select on the basis of test results in a given resolution.

Hence we decided to raise the bar of the maximum resolution in 3D from 2048x1546 to 2560x1600. Of course we understand that 30" monitors supporting this resolution are currently very expensive and difficult to get. So only few users will be interested in such resolutions. But such test results allow other users estimate potential of the cards and its features. Besides, games in such resolutions will certainly be limited by a video accelerator, not system resources, especially with AA+AF.

Now about the wide format. We can see that the old 1024x768/1600x1200 format, which has been traditionally used for many years is gradually becoming a thing of the past. It's replaced by 1600x1000, 1920x1200, 2560x1600, etc. New ratios are now fashionable (1.6 and 1.77) instead of the old ones (1.25 and 1.33). That is the screen is getting wider. It's clear that the 1920x1200 screen will display more information than 1600x1200. That's why more games support Wide-screen now. Here is a good example - Oblivion:

Usual mode Wide mode

You can see well that a player gets a wider view (screenshots on the right) than in the first case, there appear pieces of a scene, which cannot be seen in the usual mode. So, these areas can display anything, including an enemy that is shooting at you. You may just miss him in the usual mode. It's possible only if a game supports wide screen resolutions, of course. In other cases the scene will just be stretched, which will distort the screen. You can read about games supporting the wide screen here.

Let's proceed to performance analysis. In some tests we are going to compare performance of GeForce 8800 GTX in 1600x1200 and 2560x1600.

You may download the results in Excel format (Office 2003) archived in RAR 3.0 or ZIP.





Conclusions

I'd like to say about MSI cards on ATI GPUs in general. There is nothing special about X1300/1600-based products. Only the X1300 has an increased memory frequency. But it is of little help to such a weak accelerator, because its performance is limited by the GPU. It's time to bring the 8-pipe solutions into Low End, instead of making 4-pipe solutions with "violated" frequencies. The x1600 cards look worse than their competitors, because their memory frequencies are reduced.

The x1950 XTX-based product is a reference card, this card is actually bought from ATI. Only its cooling system is replaced. Is this cooler really necessary? - I don't think so. The X1900 XTX really needs it, because the reference cooling system is very noisy and spoils impressions of this product. And the reference cooler in the X1950 XTX is good. Another advantage is that the additional water unit can be installed in any slot, freeing the first slot after the video card, is necessary. Perhaps, it's just our sample that is not good at overclocking. The water cooler may demonstrate better results during overclocking in other cards.

Now what concerns GeForce 8800 GTX. Our readers have seen one more time that it's just a reference card with a label from MSI, no other differences. Although the bundle includes some games, it's still too scarce for such an expensive product. But we could admire MSI bundles not long ago... Alas, all good things end.

The card was stable, we had no problems. You can read the details here.

What concerns high and wide resolutions, they are entering our lives, tomorrow is with them. Much will be up to the prices for these huge monitors, of course. I hope they will get cheaper soon and make these resolutions affordable to at least most buyers of Hi-End accelerators.

You can find more detailed comparisons of various video cards in our 3Digest.










MSI RADEON X1950 XTX (RX1950 XTX-VT2D512E) 512MB PCI-E gets the Original Design award (December 2006)










ATI RADEON X1300-1600-1800-1900 Reference

NVIDIA GeForce 7300-7600-7800-7900 Reference




We express our thanks to
MSI Russia
for the provided video cards




PSU for the testbed was kindly provided by TAGAN




                               The Dell 3007WFP monitor for the testbeds was kindly provided by NVIDIA









Andrey Vorobiev (anvakams@ixbt.com)

December 13, 2006


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