From dual channel memory to dual core processors, it
seems as though anything that can be doubled up is getting the treatment. Intel
and AMD moved towards dual core processors out of a real necessity, but make
no mistake, dual videocards are 100% pure luxury. Now, if you have to
"justify" twin graphics cards to yourself or a significant other... they do offer more
flexibility when it comes to upgrades. For example, instead of buying a
brand new card as a replacement, consumers can buy a videocard from the
same generation (which should be cheaper) and run them together (assuming each card is
SLI compatible, and SLI is supported by the motherboard).
With nVIDIA dropping the price of NF4-SLI chipsets as a
preemptive strike against ATi's CrossFire, hardware enthusiasts looking
to buy a new motherboard should definitely get one that is dual PCI
Express videocard compatible; whether you choose the ATi or nVIDIA route is your decision.
Currently the king of the hill in the videocard world is
the Nvidia GeForce 7800GTX core. It is so fast that even just one GeForce
7800GTX videocard is quicker than the previous top of the line Geforce solution
running in SLI mode! I wish we saw this type of performance boost from CPUs every time
a new processor was released.
MSI videocards are traditionally some of the best on the market, largely
because the company bundles the most value into its products by including lots
and lots of extras. The MSI NX7800GTX-VT2D256E PCI Express videocards we'll be testing
in this review, in single and SLI mode, each come with a full version
of the highly popular "The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher
Bay" video game. Those of you who are into video editing
will also appreciate VIVO (Video In/Video Out) support. Please note that all
GeForce 7800GTX cards are PCI Express only, so if
you have a computer that uses 8XAGP videocards, it's a good time to upgrade your motherboard.
As you can see here, the MSI NX7800GTX-VT2D256E looks
identical to the other two GeForce 7800 GTX videocards PCSTATS has tested
recently... aside from the sticker on the fan. The card comes in a compact
box which is a nice change from the really big ones that MSI used to
employ for every major videocard it produced.
the MSI NX7800GTX-VT2D256E is a nicely labeled VIVO
break-out cable. The six connections include three for component
output (Y, Pb, Pr), two S-Video in/out and a single composite-in (RCA)
connector. Users can hook up this videocard to a TV or multimedia
device pretty easily, though we would have preferred to see a composite-in
as well. A standard 6' long S-Video cable is also included with the contents of
the box, but no other signal cables are.
Digital Video Interface based displays are the way of the future and we're pleased to see MSI (and practically every other
manufacturer) has equipped its high end videocards with dual DVI connectors.
It would have been nice if MSI could include two DVI to analog converters instead
of just one.... but I guess you can't win them all. ;-)
traditionally includes some of the best software bundles on the
market with its videocards, and the NX7800GTX-VT2D256E is
no different. The only thing is, now that users can combine two videocards
for more performance, perhaps MSI should consider releasing multiple versions of the software
bundled in with the NX7800GTX-VT2D256E videocard?. This way, users
would not get stuck with two copies of every game, and I think it would definitely increase
this 7800GTX's appeal.
Like all other GeForce 7800 GTX-cass videocards, the MSI NX7800GTX-VT2D256E is quite
large. It measures in at 10x23cm in size so you had better have a full-ATX case. A single GeForce 7800GTX
creates quite a lot of heat, running two in SLI doubles that, so we'd
say it's vital for potential users better have good case cooling. And no,
leaving the side panel off the case is not a fix.
As you can see, the top videocard is extremely close to the back of the
lower one on the MSI K8N Neo 4 motherboard, so proper case cooling is a must
otherwise it is very possible that the top videocard may overheat. During
testing the top GeForce 7800GTX would routinely idle between 55 and 60 degrees
Celsius while load temps topped the 75 degree Celsius barrier! Very hot but
within normal operating temperatures.
If you plan on getting a GeForce 7800GTX
class videocard, you better have a power supply that can dish out enough power.
By default the MSI NX7800GTX-VT2D256E requires a six pin power connection, but if
you do not have that do not fear. MSI includes a converter that uses two molex
connections. For the purposes of this review, we'll be testing these two
7800GTX's out on MSI's K8N Neo4 Platinum SLI motherboard with a 400W Seasonic powersupply. Let's check out the benchmark scores, but first let the overclocking begin!