MSI's videocards usually have a lot to
offer the end user a lot in terms of value. This contrasts many other manufacturers
who either include an extensive software bundle and bump up the retail price
a little, or strip the videocard down to the bare essentials and include absolutely no frills other than a
really low sticker price.
When we opened up the FX5200-TDR128 package and took a look
around at what is included we found lots of games and useful software in addition to
several other neat items. Still, the FX5200-TDR128 manages to maintain its aggressive price
point. I guess it's not surprising that MSI are the number 1 videocard
manufacturer in the world!
going to be
checking out one of MSI's latest budget videocards, the MSI FX5200-TDR128. Based on
the GeForceFX 5200 GPU, the card sports 128MB of 4ns TSOP-II Samsung memory,
has TV-Output capabilities and even a remote control. Other hardware goodies
included in the bundle are a DVI to analog adapter, S-Video to S-Video cable and
a media breakout box.
The FX5200-TDR128 also has a large software bundle with three
full version games (Morrowind, Ghost Recon, Duke Nukem Manhattan Project), a
seven game demo CD, WinDVD, VirtualDrive Pro and RestoreIt! Pro as well as three
other miscellaneous CDROMs.
With a $175
CDN ($115 US) price tag, the MSI FX5200-TDR128 is about average for a run of the
mill GeForceFX 5200 videocard. Not quite as affordable as the Albatron GeForceFX 5200P we reviewed a bit earlier, but
the MSI comes with a heck of a lot more in terms of features!
It seems like these days manufacturers distinguish
themselves with the colour of their PCB's and MSI has been going using a red
colour for a while now. MSI employs their "T.O.P. Tech II" cooling system on
their FX5200-TDR128 and claims that it's more efficient at cooling down the GPU
then other coolers while running quieter at the same time.
During testing, the MSI FX5200-TDR128 was inaudible
while in 2D mode. In its loudest setting (Enhanced 3D Mode) we had to strain
ourselves to hear the fan. Of course our test system is laying in the open on a
desk and we're certain that in an enclosed case you would not be able to hear
the GPU fan. I guess you can say the MSI FX5200-TDR128 did produce more noise
then the Albatron GeForceFX 5200P we tested recently (it uses a passive heatsink
with no fan) though. ;-)
did not have a thermometer on hand here at the PCStats test labs but the back
of the GPU on the MSI FX5200-TDR128 did feel cooler to the
touch then the Albatron GeForceFX 5200P. That's not surprising though since the cooling on
the Albatron card is entirely passive in nature.
The remote control that comes with the MSI FX5200-TDR128
is certainly a nifty feature. However its usefulness needs a bit of work. Between the
remote and receiver there must be a clear line of sight. If I put my hand in
front of the remote, the connection between the two is lost. Because the MSI FX5200-TDR128
does not have a TV tuner, I think most of the really cool features of
the remote are not that useful. Perhaps MSI should try their hand against
ATi's All in Wonder line of videocards.
Because this is nVIDIA's
budget GPU we're not going to dwell on the performance enhancements with the
more expensive cards. The NV34/GeForceFX 5200 GPU is fully DirectX 9 compliant
like the rest of the GeForceFX family. According to nVIDIA the NV34 is the NV31
(GeForceFX 5600) on a larger die (0.15 micron as opposed to 0.13 for the faster
GPU's) which operates at a slower clock speed.