Reviewing a regular GeForce video card in the days of the GeForce 2 may seem like a waste of time to many of you. I personally don't think it is, for a couple of reasons.
First and foremost, just because the GeForce 2 is released, it doesn't mean the regular GeForce video cards are not fast anymore. On the contrary, they still very much hold their own in the performance arena. Their price is also becoming much more attractive for the budget minded individuals. A GeForce would be quite an upgrade for people with the Voodoo 3 and TNT 2s out there. Besides, I believe the video card 6-month cycle is getting to be a little bit out of hand. "Normal" people out there simply do not have the money to keep up with the latest and greatest.
Second, MicroStar released their GeForce based video board very recently. When they contacted us about the possibility of doing a review on their video card we just couldn't say no.
With all that said, let's dive into the review.
Specs, Package, First Impressions
Single-Chip GPU (Graphics Processing Unit)
Integrated Transform and Lighting
Independent Pipelined QuandEngine
256-Bit QuadPipe Rendering Engine
AGP 4X with Fast Writes
High-Quality HDTV Processor
350 MHz RAMDAC
32MB Frame Buffer
480M Pixels/Sec, 15M Polygons/Sec
32-bit Z-Buffer/Stencil Buffer
Complete Support for New Microsoft DirectX 7 and OpenGL Features
The MS-8809 follows the NVidia reference design
very closely. Our board featured a TV out connector in the form of S-Video out
along with the corresponding cable. The one beef I had with the cable was that
it featured S-Video connectors on both ends. So, in order for you to hook it up
to your TV you must either have S-Video inputs on your TV or VCR, or you have to
buy an S-Video to RCA adapter. Or you could always use your Voodoo 3 3000 cable
:). The big disappointment with the whole board with the inclusion of SDR RAM
vs. DDR RAM. Of course, as we all know, using SDR vs. DDR cripples the ability
of the GeForce to use its full bandwidth. But, considering that this board is
marketed an an inexpensive solution the SDR inclusion makes more sense. Also,
giving credit where it's due, the board was outfitted with 5.5 ns RAM, good for
a theoretical max of 183 MHz.
Our review unit came with NVidia's reference
drivers. It's interesting to note that MSI doesn't make drivers for this video
card. I didn't really see that as a problem, as the reference NVidia detonator
drivers are very fast anyway. MSI does however include a very useful utility
with the product called 3D Turoo II. This handsome little utility allows you to
perform a variety of tasks such as changing the color depth and the resolution
on the fly, as well as adjust the colors and brightness.
There's even a performance tab which is supposed to
allow you to modify your core and memory clock. Unfortunately, we never got it
to work. The absolute coolest thing about 3D Turbo II utility, was its ability
to allow for eight different virtual desktops. So if your desktop work area is
never big enough for your work you can use more than one desktop. You can even
assign hot keys to switch between virtual desktops as well perform various other
The inclusion of the 3D Turbo II utility more
than made up for the lack of MSI customized drivers. Last but not least, MSI
also included software DVD player to take advantage of the GeForce's DVD
decoding capabilities. We didn't really play with the DVD software, since we
don't use our computers for watching DVD movies. But, it's always nice to know
that the capability is there.