There are a lot of entry level videocards
that claim Microsoft Windows Vista compatibility, but you'd be wise to shop carefully otherwise you could end up with something that's based on DirectX 9.0C, not DirectX 10. The former is sufficiently powerful to run Windows Vista, but in the long term you're better served by a videocard that is fully DirectX 10 compliant.
Even if you're only a casual gamer, a DirectX 10 videocard gives you access to a lot of the eye candy in the latest game titles, and that's not always so with a DirectX 9.0C videocard. To top things off, if you know where to look you can find a good DirectX 10 class videocard that wont break the bank.
nVIDIA is no doubt the clear leader in the videocard market right now, and its GeForce 8500 and Geforce
8600 series of GPUs offer a heck of a lot of value. The pickings
are a little slim right now for videocards that go for less than $100, but the nVIDIA GeForce 8500GT
is apt to change that. A prime example is the MSI NX8500GT-TD256E, it retails for just $93 CDN ($86
USD, £43 GBP), and it's actually not
MSI's NX8500GT-TD256E is a PCI Express x16 videocard based on the nVIDIA GeForce 8500GT GPU and backed by 256MB of GDDR2 memory. It features a 15 pin analog monitor output, DVI output and TV/Component output for HDTVs.
The MSI NX8500GT-TD256E videocard is based on the reference nVIDIA design,
but it comes in MSI's signature colour, red. MSI equip the videocard with a compact aluminum heatsink and tiny 50mm fan. Should you want to put a different heatsink on the NX8500GT-TD256E, there are mounting holes around the GeForce 8500GT GPU to accommodate most after market coolers. During our testing the videocard ran pretty quietly though.
There are no heatsinks installed on the 256MB of GDDR2 BGA Hynix memory,
it's simply unnecessary at stock speeds. Noticeably missing from the MSI
NX8500GT-TD256E is a SLI bridge connector on the top left hand corner of the
videocard. Don't fret though, the NX8500GT-TD256E can still run SLI through the
PCI Express bus, should you happen to have a second GeForce 8500GT videocard and
a motherboard which supports SLI.
MSI traditionally bundles a lot of software with its
videocards, but in this case don't expect much. If you're interested in gaming
and want to push the NX8500GT-TD256E videocard, use the money you saved on this
entry level part and pick up the latest game title. Company of
Heroes is the first DirectX 10 game available, and a great game to start on.