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Eight Video Cards from MSI
Based on Various GPUs from NVIDIA,
And a Unique Solution —
Geminium Go

September 15, 2006




MSI GeForce 7300 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7300GT-TD256EH)
MSI GeForce 7600 GS 256MB PCI-E (NX7600GS-T2D256EH)
MSI GeForce 7600 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7600GT-VT2D256E-HD)
MSI GeForce 7600 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7600GT-T2D256EZ)
MSI GeForce 7900 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7900GT-VT2D256E)
MSI GeForce 7900 GTX 512MB PCI-E (NX7900GTX-T2D512E)
MSI GeForce 7950 GX2 2x512MB PCI-E (NX7950GX2-T2D1GE)
MSI Geminium Go (Dual 7600 Go) 2x256MB PCI-E






TABLE OF CONTENTS

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



If we compare the current state of affairs on the market of 3D accelerators with the situation back in 1999-2000, we'll see that manufacturers are losing interest to diversity. Even though chipmakers are trying to produce various products for all price segments and introduce very interesting technologies, manufacturers and vendors got very lazy and do not contribute their ideas and efforts to the new products.

What have we seen for several years? We can forget about all those Sapphire, ASUS, MSI, Gigabyte, etc in the Hi-End sector and just speak of products from NVIDIA and ATI. All such products are manufactured only by the orders of these chipmakers anyway. After that they are sold to their partners. ATI and NVIDIA just don't have their own outlets, so all GeForce 7900 GTX, RADEON X1900 cards, etc go as "revolutionary solutions" from Sapphire, ASUS, MSI, Gigabyte, and others. But in fact, they just add some CDs, pack cards in their nice boxes, and stick their labels. And that's it. For crying out loud! R&D! Where is it?! Alas. They won't even order a special PCB color to distinguish their products. ATI and NVIDIA never objected to such orders. Too lazy. Why? ASUS puts a reference card into its box and sells it for $600 because of its brand, while Palit sells THE SAME CARD for $400. Because it's enough for this company. And inexperienced ignorant users will gladly post their messages in forums about their purchases (ASUS for $600) - a stronghold of reliability and the best quality. But those who bought the same product for $400 can also say that their cards are just as reliable and offer the same high quality, because all these Hi-End cards come from the same plant.

Too bad that all those interesting unusual innovations... are things of the past now. Yep, you can still find some unusual solutions among Middle-End and budget cards. But you jump at them as a wolf. Wow, a cooler without a fan! - Already interesting. And here is an unusual bracket on a card... But it happens seldom. We mostly deal with overclocking only... For example, a manufacturer overclocks the 7600GS to get something close to the 7600GT - a brilliant creation worth the title Platinum Diamond Golden Edition Forever!

Or it buys GeForce 6600 chips from NVIDIA, installs them on the 6600GT PCB - here goes a hybrid, a new solution, the world has changed... Even now, ATI again renamed the X1600 PRO card into X1300 XT, X1600 XT - into X1650 PRO, having changed the frequencies by 10 MHz for the sake of appearances. And again such cards are given as NEW SOLUTIONS! NEW CARDS, GENTLEMEN! Yes! Users would buy these cards as X1600 PRO, as now we are just dying to buy the same card as... X1300 XT! In the long run, all ATI cards must have the XT suffix only! The marketing department is happy, sticking to the office in Toronto, stewing in its own juice. And poor local PR specialists have to puzzle over how to sell the old cards as new ones. I'm just speechless...

Resources, efforts, R&D - everything for this... And the money for the latter department. It's so pleasant to hold ASUS RADEON 9800 XT SE in a leather case with a bonus card reader. Or golden cards from Prolink... Or striking SE cards from Chaintech in times of GeForce 4 Ti. They are all gone. No one needs them. Interest to this sector is waning. In a couple of years, we'll have to review just 5-6 new cards from NVIDIA (and from ATI, if it still manufactures them inside AMD) a YEAR, and that's it. That is we'll have to content ourselves with baseline reviews. Because vendors will offer just the same cards. Having learnt to their own cost, they will give up overclocking (eVGA has to call back hundred thousand cards for the last months, which slow down or just fail because of their initial overclocking).

So, the market of desktop video cards has reached its zenith. It will be followed by a decline, because more attention will be paid to notebooks and other mobile video (handhelds, smartphones, etc), as well as to multimedia devices. Don't forget about the market of game consoles, where upgrades as such are impossible, except for periphery. Manufacturers are already losing interest to modernizing video cards. Of course, these are just tricky forecasts. Maybe the situation will take a different turn. But many experts are of the opinion that desktop graphics will survive just five more years to be replaced by integrated video.

What concerns video card manufacturers, we can see only rare flares of non-standard solutions, from HIS in particular, sometimes from ASUS (like a Silent cooler), and from MSI today. As usual, all Hi-End models are just reference cards in special boxes, while Middle-End cards are of their own non-standard design. One product is just unique. The point is not in how it's designed. It is strikingly useless, but its approach is attractive.

But let's start from the very beginning.

Video Cards



MSI GeForce 7300 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7300GT-TD256EH)
GPU: GeForce 7300 GT (G73)

Interface: PCI-Express x16

GPU frequencies: 350 MHz (nominal - 350 MHz)

Memory frequencies (physical/effective): 333 (666) MHz (nominal - 333 (666) MHz)

Memory bus width: 128bit

Number of vertex pipelines: 4

Number of pixel pipelines: 8

Number of texture processors: 8

Number of ROPs: 8

Dimensions: 170x100x15mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: red.

Output connectors: VGA (d-Sub), DVI (Dual-Link), TV-Out.

VIVO: not available

TV-out: integrated into GPU.




MSI GeForce 7600 GS 256MB PCI-E (NX7600GS-T2D256EH)
GPU: GeForce 7600 GS (G73)

Interface: PCI-Express x16

GPU frequencies: 400 MHz (nominal - 400 MHz)

Memory frequencies (physical/effective): 400 (800) MHz (nominal - 400 (800) MHz)

Memory bus width: 128bit

Number of vertex pipelines: 5

Number of pixel pipelines: 12

Number of texture processors: 12

Number of ROPs: 8

Dimensions: 170x100x15mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: red.

Output connectors: 2 x DVI (1 x Dual-Link), TV-Out.

VIVO: not available

TV-out: integrated into GPU.




MSI GeForce 7600 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7600GT-VT2D256E-HD)
GPU: GeForce 7600 GT (G73)

Interface: PCI-Express x16

GPU frequencies: 560 MHz (nominal - 560 MHz)

Memory frequencies (physical/effective): 700 (1400) MHz (nominal - 700 (1400) MHz)

Memory bus width: 128bit

Number of vertex pipelines: 5

Number of pixel pipelines: 12

Number of texture processors: 12

Number of ROPs: 8

Dimensions: 180x100x32mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: red.

Output connectors: 2 x DVI (1 x Dual-Link), TV-Out.

VIVO: not available

TV-out: integrated into GPU.




MSI GeForce 7600 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7600GT-T2D256EZ)
GPU: GeForce 7600 GT (G73)

Interface: PCI-Express x16

GPU frequencies: 560 MHz (nominal - 560 MHz)

Memory frequencies (physical/effective): 700 (1400) MHz (nominal - 700 (1400) MHz)

Memory bus width: 128bit

Number of vertex pipelines: 5

Number of pixel pipelines: 12

Number of texture processors: 12

Number of ROPs: 8

Dimensions: 180x100x32mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: red.

Output connectors: 2 x DVI (1 x Dual-Link), TV-Out.

VIVO: not available

TV-out: integrated into GPU.




MSI GeForce 7900 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7900GT-VT2D256E)
GPU: GeForce 7900 GT (G71)

Interface: PCI-Express x16

GPU frequencies: 500 MHz (nominal - 450 MHz)

Memory frequencies (physical/effective): 765 (1530) MHz (nominal - 660 (1320) MHz)

Memory bus width: 256bit

Number of vertex pipelines: 8

Number of pixel pipelines: 24

Number of texture processors: 24

Number of ROPs: 16

Dimensions: 170x100x15mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: green.

Output connectors: 2 x DVI (2 x Dual-Link), TV-Out.

VIVO: available (Philips 7115)

TV-out: integrated into GPU.




MSI GeForce 7900 GTX 512MB PCI-E (NX7900GTX-T2D512E)
GPU: GeForce 7900 GTX (G71)

Interface: PCI-Express x16

GPU frequencies: 650 MHz (nominal - 650 MHz)

Memory frequencies (physical/effective): 800 (1600) MHz (nominal - 800 (1600) MHz)

Memory bus width: 256bit

Number of vertex pipelines: 8

Number of pixel pipelines: 24

Number of texture processors: 24

Number of ROPs: 16

Dimensions: 210x100x31mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: green.

Output connectors: 2 x DVI (2 x Dual-Link), TV-Out.

VIVO: not available

TV-out: integrated into GPU.




MSI GeForce 7950 GX2 2x512MB PCI-E (NX7950GX2-T2D1GE)
GPU: 2 x GeForce 7900 GTX (2 x G71)

Interface: PCI-Express x16

GPU frequencies: 500 MHz (nominal — 500 MHz)

Memory frequencies (physical (effective)): 600 (1200) MHz (nominal — 600 (1200) MHz)

Memory bus width: 2 x 256bit

Number of Shader Vertex Processors: 2 x 8

Number of Shader Pixel Processors: 2 x 24

Number of texture processors: 2 x 24

Number of ROPs: 2 x 16

Dimensions: 210x100x32mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: green.

Output connectors: 2 x DVI (2 x Dual-Link), TV-Out.

VIVO: not available

TV-out: integrated into GPU.




MSI Geminium Go (Dual 7600 Go)2x256MB PCI-E
GPU: 2 x GeForce 7600 Go (2 x G73)

Interface: PCI-Express x16

GPU frequencies: 450 MHz (nominal — n/a)

Memory frequencies (physical (effective)): 500 (1000) MHz (nominal — n/a)

Memory bus width: 2 x 128bit

Number of Shader Vertex Processors: 2 x 5

Number of Shader Pixel Processors: 2 x 8

Number of texture processors: 2 x 8

Number of ROPs: 2 x 8

Dimensions: 200x100x32mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: red.

Output connectors: VGA (d-Sub), DVI (Dual-Link), TV-Out.

VIVO: not available

TV-out: integrated into GPU.






MSI GeForce 7300 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7300GT-TD256EH)
The video card has 256 MB of GDDR2 SDRAM memory, allocated in 8 chips on the front side of the PCB.

Infineon memory chips (GDDR2). 2.8ns memory access time, which corresponds to 350 (700) MHz.




MSI GeForce 7600 GS 256MB PCI-E (NX7600GS-T2D256EH)
The video card has 256 MB of GDDR2 SDRAM allocated in eight chips on the front side of the PCB.

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




MSI GeForce 7600 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7600GT-VT2D256E-HD); MSI GeForce 7600 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7600GT-T2D256EZ)
The video card has 256 MB of GDDR3 SDRAM allocated in four chips on the front side of the PCB.

Infineon memory chips (GDDR3). 1.4ns memory access time, which corresponds to 700 (1400) MHz.




MSI GeForce 7900 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7900GT-VT2D256E)
The video card has 256 MB of GDDR3 SDRAM allocated in eight chips on the front side of the PCB.

Samsung memory chips (GDDR3). 1.4ns memory access time, which corresponds to 700 (1400) MHz.




MSI GeForce 7900 GTX 512MB PCI-E (NX7900GTX-T2D512E)
The video card has 512 MB of GDDR3 SDRAM allocated in eight chips on the front side of the PCB.

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




MSI GeForce 7950 GX2 2x512MB PCI-E (NX7950GX2-T2D1GE)
The video card has 2x256 MB of GDDR3 SDRAM allocated in sixteen chips (eight chips per each PCB) on the front sides of the PCBs.

Samsung memory chips (GDDR3). 1.4ns memory access time, which corresponds to 700 (1400) MHz.




MSI Geminium Go (Dual 7600 Go)2x256MB PCI-E
The video card has 2x256 MB of GDDR3 SDRAM allocated in eight chips (four chips per each MXM module) on the front and back sides of the PCB.

Samsung memory chips (GDDR3). 2.0ns memory access time, which corresponds to 500 (1000) MHz.






Comparison with the reference design, front view
MSI GeForce 7300 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7300GT-TD256EH)
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 6600 DDR2
MSI GeForce 7600 GS 256MB PCI-E (NX7600GS-T2D256EH)
MSI GeForce 7600 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7600GT-VT2D256E-HD)
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 7600 GT
MSI GeForce 7600 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7600GT-T2D256EZ)
MSI GeForce 7900 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7900GT-VT2D256E)
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GT
MSI GeForce 7900 GTX 512MB PCI-E (NX7900GTX-T2D512E)
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GTX
MSI GeForce 7950 GX2 2x512MB PCI-E (NX7950GX2-T2D1GE)
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 7950 GX2
MSI Geminium Go (Dual 7600 Go)2x256MB PCI-E
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 7600 GT


Comparison with the reference design, back view
MSI GeForce 7300 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7300GT-TD256EH)
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 6600 DDR2
MSI GeForce 7600 GS 256MB PCI-E (NX7600GS-T2D256EH)
MSI GeForce 7600 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7600GT-VT2D256E-HD)
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 7600 GT
MSI GeForce 7600 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7600GT-T2D256EZ)
MSI GeForce 7900 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7900GT-VT2D256E)
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GT
MSI GeForce 7900 GTX 512MB PCI-E (NX7900GTX-T2D512E)
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GTX
MSI GeForce 7950 GX2 2x512MB PCI-E (NX7950GX2-T2D1GE)
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 7950 GX2
MSI Geminium Go (Dual 7600 Go)2x256MB PCI-E
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 7600 GT


MSI Geminium Go (Dual 7600 Go)2x256MB PCI-E is certainly the most extraordinary and striking solution. We all heard about the MXM technology from NVIDIA that allows upgrading a video system in a notebook. A piece of a PCB houses a GPU and memory chips.




We can see that this module is manufactured by MSI and is equipped with the GeForce 7600 Go processor. In fact, this processor is just GeForce 7300 GT, that is a G73 with only eight pipelines. NVIDIA does not specify the operating frequencies, so they may vary. That's why the table above does not contain the nominal value. In this case this "video card" runs at 450/500 (1000) MHz. The video card is equipped with two such modules. Thus, it's the first video card in the world that allows to upgrade a graphics core.

The video card itself is essentially a holder for MXM modules with a power supply unit. And with video-out jacks. The main components are inside the modules.

Now bad news. First of all, this video card works AS IT SHOULD only with the K8N Diamond (nForce4 SLI) motherboard from MSI. Other nForce-based motherboards detect it as a single video card. Of course, it's a SLI solution, two MXM modules must work in tandem using this technology.

Secondly, we are given no reasons for designing this card, except for the thesis that it's the first "upgradeable" video card. MXM modules are not available on sale and there are no prerequisites for their appearance. Though they are manufactured by MSI and this company might have supplied them to retail stores. But the fact remains - MXM hasn't taken root yet in notebooks and these modules are not available on sale.

Thirdly, this product seems to be just a demonstration of MSI's ability to design unusual products. Because this video card is not available in stores. And the official MSI web site makes no mentions of it. To all appearances, the company manufactured 10-20 cards for the press. That's it. I doubt very much that this card will go to a production line.

So we can just read about it, gasp with surprise, and forget about it. Besides, according to our tests, the total performance of this SLI solution is just 10% higher than that of a single GeForce 7600 GT card. So there is no point in publishing these results on the graphs.

Now about the other cards. We have nothing to say about the 7900 GTX / 7950 GX2 cards - these cards are not manufactured by MSI, just reference cards. The 7300/7600 cards are manufactured by the company. We can see that the 7300GT/7600GS cards have the same design, they borrowed it from the GeForce 6600 with DDR2 memory. Indeed, there is no point in reinventing the wheel. Besides, all G73 processors are pin-compatible with the NV43 series. But the GeForce 7600 GT has a unique design from MSI. These cards are longer than usual and have empty seats for another set of chips. Thus, MSI plans on manufacturing 512 MB cards on the same PCB.

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 card based on GeForce 7900GT is also equipped with TV-in, a proper adapter included. 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. We are not going to review coolers from the MSI GeForce 7950 GX2 2x512MB PCI-E (NX7950GX2-T2D1GE) and MSI GeForce 7900 GTX 512MB PCI-E (NX7900GTX-T2D512E), because they are of the reference design and we already reviewed their cooling systems many times.



MSI GeForce 7300 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7300GT-TD256EH); MSI GeForce 7600 GS 256MB PCI-E (NX7600GS-T2D256EH)

The cards are equipped with a passive cooling system - a heatsink without a fan. But the heatsink is reinforced with a heat pipe, which contributes to channeling the heat from the copper plate that touches the core to the heatsink.

The card does not get very hot, so this cooling device is quite efficient and sufficient for this card.







MSI GeForce 7600 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7600GT-VT2D256E-HD)

It's an exhaust cooler. We have seen such devices many times - a turbine at the end of a plastic tube drives the air into the tube, which passes through a heatsink, gets hot, and then is driven out of a PC case.

It's not quite clear why make such fuss over the 7600 GT, a usual small cooler would have coped with cooling it. But the engineers know better. Overclockers, rejoice! :)

This device also cools memory chips. Besides, the GPU can be overclocked higher with such a cooler. Besides, this system is very quiet, the turbine rotates slowly.

The cooler is reinforced with heat pipes between the base that touches GPU and memory chips and a heatsink inside the funnel.







MSI GeForce 7600 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7600GT-T2D256EZ)

This cooling system is more interesting. Yep, it has no fan and will hardly suit overclockers. But it's an excellent choice for users with sharp hearing, who got irritated even by low noise from the system unit.

Its operation principle is simple: there are two heatsinks connected with heat pipes, which channel the heat from the front heatsink that takes the heat from GPU and memory to the rear heatsink. These heatsinks offer decent surface area, plus they use copper alloys to boost their thermal efficiency.

Besides, they look nice!







MSI GeForce 7900 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7900GT-VT2D256E)

A regular cooler a-la GeForc4 Ti, but a tad larger. What differs it from the reference design is that it's made of copper alloy and that it covers memory chips.

By the way, the memory operates at a higher frequency than the 700 MHz nominal. That may be the reason to install such a cooler. It's not noisy and it does not raise its rotational speed at startup. Unfortunately, it cannot be controlled via RivaTuner.







Bundle

MSI GeForce 7300 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7300GT-TD256EH)
User's Manual, CD with drivers and utilities, DVI-to-d-Sub adapters, and TV cables. As well as a composite output adapter.


MSI GeForce 7600 GS 256MB PCI-E (NX7600GS-T2D256EH)
User's Manual, CD with drivers and utilities, a box with a game, DVI-to-d-Sub adapters, TV cables, a composite output adapter.


MSI GeForce 7600 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7600GT-VT2D256E-HD)
User's Manual, CD with drivers and utilities, Cyberlink DVD, DVI-to-d-Sub adapters, TV cables, a composite output adapter. The card is packed in a separate box.





MSI GeForce 7600 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7600GT-T2D256EZ)
The same bundle.





MSI GeForce 7900 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7900GT-VT2D256E)
The other bundles are practically the same,





MSI GeForce 7900 GTX 512MB PCI-E (NX7900GTX-T2D512E)
they differ only in bundled games,





MSI GeForce 7950 GX2 2x512MB PCI-E (NX7950GX2-T2D1GE)
as well as in the number of adapters and TV cords. All video cards have the same system CD.







Packages.

MSI GeForce 7300 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7300GT-TD256EH)

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 7600 GS 256MB PCI-E (NX7600GS-T2D256EH)

The company would use boxes of various sizes and designs for Mid- and Hi-End cards.




MSI GeForce 7600 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7600GT-VT2D256E-HD)

But it has changed now, all boxes are of the same compact dimensions now.




MSI GeForce 7600 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7600GT-T2D256EZ)

At the same time, the handle (on top) has not disappeared.




MSI GeForce 7900 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7900GT-VT2D256E)

On the whole, the boxes differ only in labels.




MSI GeForce 7900 GTX 512MB PCI-E (NX7900GTX-T2D512E)

But these labels are printed instead of being stuck to the box (such stickers tend to drop off sometimes).




MSI GeForce 7950 GX2 2x512MB PCI-E (NX7950GX2-T2D1GE)

It's a pity there are no windows in the boxes to show off the card, though the cards are covered by plastic lids.




MSI Geminium Go (Dual 7600 Go)2x256MB PCI-E

Only this card got an old-style dark box. But I suspect that it won't make it to the stores.






Installation and Drivers

Testbed configuration:

  • Athlon 64 (939Socket) based computer
    • CPU: AMD Athlon 4000+ (2400MHz) (L2=1024K)
    • Motherboard: MSI K8N Diamond Plus based on the NVIDIA nForce4 SLI X16 chipset
    • RAM: 2 GB DDR SDRAM 400MHz (CAS (tCL)=2.5; RAS to CAS delay (tRCD)=3; Row Precharge (tRP)=3; tRAS=6)
    • HDD: WD Caviar SE WD1600JD 160GB SATA

  • Operating system: Windows XP SP2 DirectX 9.0c
  • Monitors: ViewSonic P810 (21") and Mitsubishi Diamond Pro 2070sb (21").
  • ATI Drivers (PCI-E video cards) CATALYST 6.8; NVIDIA Drivers 91.33.

VSync is disabled.



MSI GeForce 7300 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7300GT-TD256EH)






MSI GeForce 7600 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7600GT-T2D256EZ)






MSI GeForce 7900 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7900GT-VT2D256E)






MSI Geminium Go (Dual 7600 Go)2x256MB PCI-E




Fragments of monitoring results speak of no overheating problems even in cards without fans. We loaded the cards with 3DMark06 or FEAR to monitor their temperatures, so the results are for the heaviest operating modes. We ran the tests in a closed Chieftec case with one 80 mm fan for intake and the other 80 mm fan to blow the air out. No additional cooling for the video cards.

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 1.33 (Crytek/UbiSoft), DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, demo from the Research level (-DEVMODE startup option), Very High test settings.

  • 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. (DO NOT BE AFRAID of the black screen after the first menu, that's how it should be! It will last 5-10 seconds and then the demo should start)

  • 3DMark05 1.20 (FutureMark) — DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, test settings — trilinear,

  • 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.1.02 (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



Summary performance diagrams

Attention! We do not publish the results of the GeForce 7900 GT running at higher frequencies for the following reasons:

  1. The difference between the standard 7900GT and the card from MSI does not exceed 7-10%, so our readers may estimate the results of this card on their own;
  2. We have information that only engineering samples are overclocked. Production-line samples will operate at the standard frequencies. Besides, the higher frequencies are not mentioned anywhere (neither on the box, nor on the web site).



Read other comments in our conclusions.


Conclusions

  1. MSI GeForce 7300 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7300GT-TD256EH) works at standard frequencies for the 7300 GT, unlike the first product from Galaxy we reviewed, which offered an excellent performance/price ratio. This product is a tad worse. The standard 7300 GT is much slower than that overclocked sample. But its price is also lower. So the product is not bad at all, 8-pipe processors are going down to the price segment below $100. I repeat, this card is equipped with a passive cooling system, so it's noiseless. Our sample worked great, no gripes. But its 2D quality in 1600x1200 let the product down a little, the picture is clear only in 1280x1024. I repeat for the 125th time that IT ALL depends on a given sample and A GIVEN monitor and A GIVEN cable between the card and the monitor.

  2. MSI GeForce 7600 GS 256MB PCI-E (NX7600GS-T2D256EH) is also a very good product with an excellent performance/price ratio as well as a noiseless cooling system. We had no gripes with its stability, 2D quality was satisfactory even in 1600x1200@85Hz.

  3. MSI GeForce 7600 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7600GT-VT2D256E-HD) is a good choice for overclockers, as this card is equipped with a very powerful cooler, evidently excessive for such a product, as it operates at standard frequencies. Our sample worked great, no gripes, 2D quality in 1600x1200 was at a high level.

  4. MSI GeForce 7600 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7600GT-T2D256EZ) will please those users, who want to get decent performance and a noiseless cooler. But you should take into account that the cooling system is bulky. For example, you cannot install it into some barebones. And owners of barebones very often strive for quiet operation. Our sample worked great, no gripes, 2D quality in 1600x1200 was remarkable.

  5. MSI GeForce 7900 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7900GT-VT2D256E) - on the one hand, it's a usual 7900GT card of the reference design, reinforced with a more powerful cooler (which will please overclockers); but on the other hand, this card operates at higher frequencies. I cannot promise that all production-line cards will support the same frequencies. What concerns the card itself, we had no gripes with its operation. Its 2D quality is also all right.



  6. MSI GeForce 7900 GTX 512MB PCI-E (NX7900GTX-T2D512E) is a reference card, so there is no point in describing it. There is much written about the 7900 GTX already. It will be up to the price now what card is better - this one or the X1900 XTX. The bundle is not bad, but the competing products do not come as OEM either, so... The times when MSI bundled its cards with 11 CDs and 5-6 games are gone. We had no gripes or problems with its operation.



  7. MSI GeForce 7950 GX2 2x512MB PCI-E (NX7950GX2-T2D1GE) is another reference card. We already reviewed it. So it will be all up to the price. So far, it's the most powerful accelerator, but it does not work with all motherboards.



  8. MSI Geminium Go (Dual 7600 Go)2x256MB PCI-E - this sample, which will most likely not enter production, is interesting only in its idea. It's an upgradeable video card. If MXM modules had been available in stores and the card had worked with all motherboards, we could have spoken of prospects and advantages of this solution. As for now, it's just a demonstration of MSI's R&D capacities.

    In conclusion, I'd like to note that all MSI cards come with MSI Vivid software. It's a tool to improve image quality. It helps improve image quality in digital photos, documents, and games. Sort of a memorable Vibrance Color in a new package :)








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








The following cards get the Original Design award






(September, 2006):

  1. MSI GeForce 7600 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7600GT-VT2D256E-HD)
  2. MSI GeForce 7600 GT 256MB PCI-E (NX7600GT-T2D256EZ)



ATI RADEON X1300-1600-1800-1900 Reference

NVIDIA GeForce 7300-7600-7800-7900 Reference



We express our thanks to
MSI Russia
for the provided testbed components



PSU for the testbed was kindly provided by HIPER




                               Memory for the testbeds is kindly provided by







Andrey Vorobiev (anvakams@ixbt.com)

September 15, 2006



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