By all accounts, analysts agree that ATIs CrossFire technology should
breathe new life into the company's current high-end line of
PCI Express videocards. Whereas nVIDIA's SLI system requires
two identical videocards, CrossFire potentially allows consumers to use an existing videocard alongside one
of the new CrossFire edition cards. An interesting take on the
technology, and one that should make it more accessible to users on a budget.
Of course, whether or not CrossFire will require a new motherboard is not yet certain.
The technology is supposed to be compatible with Intel's upcoming
dual PCI Express x16 chipset, but whether ATi has allowed for CrossFire
support on nVidia chipsets, is currently not clear.
In this review PCSTATS is testing the MSI RX850XT-TD256E videocard, which does not
feature CrossFire. Based on the Radeon X850 XT, this PCI Express card is backed by 256MB of GDDR3
memory and supports VIVO, TV/S-Video output and component output. The ATi X850 series
of GPUs are the current 3D performance leaders and the XT is
the second fastest available GPU in the line.
As usual for MSI Computer, the software package is among the best on the market and
includes full versions of XIII, Uru and Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow. Other
software includes FarStone's VirtualDrive and RestoreIT! software as well as
CyberLink's DVD Solution software.
Quick Installation Guide, Driver
CD, MSI 3D Software, WinDVD, WinDVD Creator, Restore
It!/Virtual Drive CD, Software Super Pack CD, 14 in 1 CD, URU
CD, Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow CDs, XIII CDs, DVI to
analog converter, S-Video to S-Video cable, VIVO cable, Molex
to 6 pin 12V Power Cable
MSI has stuck with the
reference design for the RX850XT-TD256E videocard, including the enormous aluminum and copper heatsink. I had hoped
that MSI would engineer its own cooler to allow the card to be a single slot solution, but
no such luck.
XT core draws quite a bit of power, too much for the PCI Express slot to
handle, and that's also why there is an extra six pin 12V connector on the top right-hand corner
of the videocard.
Along with the games and software, MSI includes an
excellent supporting hardware bundle. There's a DVI to analog converter for
those of you who use dual monitors and nice long S-Video and Composite cables,
meaning you can
hide the PC from view when using TV-out.
Component cables are not included, but since cable quality is
such a large factor in HDTV image quality, it's better for MSI
include any with the package in our opinion.
I was disappointed to see that MSI did not include an actual user
manual with the RX850XT-TD256E videocard. I'm aware that one is on the driver CD,
but that does not help much when your PC is down due to a problem.