By now you've all probably heard about PCI Express and why it's rapidly replacing the aging AGP slot; there is no need to beat a dead horse. Nonetheless, the AGP market is still going strong with plenty of potential buyers out there who don't want to replace their motherboard just yet to accommodate a PCI Express graphics card.
We can certainly understand where these budget-conscious users are coming from, but we find it difficult to recommend spending money on any high-end AGP cards at the moment. However, if you're stuck with an older graphics card (think GeForce 4 / Radeon 8500) and are looking for a nominal performance boost, a low to mid-range AGP model is still a viable option. And luckily, for those looking for an AGP bargain, there are some decent options currently available. If you do have the cash for a $500 video card though, we'd recommend putting some money toward a PCI Express ready motherboard and spending the remainder on a mid-range PCIe based card. You may go over budget in the short term, but in the long run you'll have a system that'll be much more future-proof.
With respect to those on a budget though, we're going to give you the lowdown on the MSI NX6600GT-VTD128SP AGP graphic card. This is a competitively priced graphics card with a sweet bundle and adequate gaming performance. If you are an average user that enjoys casual gaming, MSI may have what you are looking for. Let's take a look to see what MSI brings us this time around.
|GeForce 6600GT Chipset Features
•NVIDIA CineFX 3.0 engine
•64-bit texture filtering support delivers full-speed, high dynamic-range (HDR) lighting effects
•Unmatched image quality delivered through new 16x anisotropic filtering and rotated grid antialiasing
•4x shadow processing power with NVIDIA UltraShadow II for next generation games
•Infinite program length allows for a new class of special effects
•Hardware-accelerated MPEG and WMV9 decode delivers smooth, artifact-free video
•Dedicated video hardware reduces CPU utilization and improves overall system performance
•On-chip video encoder and motion estimation engine provides fast, high-quality encoding from TV tuner
•Programmable video engine ensures compatibility with future video codecs
•High-quality video scaling and filtering improves playback quality at any window size
•Integrated HDTV-output brings content from your desktop to your high-definition TV
•NVIDIA ForceWare software delivers unmatched features and rock-solid stability
•High dynamic-range (HDR) rendering
•NVIDIA UltraShadow technology
•NVIDIA Intellisample high-resolution compression technology (HCT)
•NVIDIA ForceWare Unified Driver Architecture(UDA)
•NVIDIA nView multi-display technology
•NVIDIA Digital Vibrance Control (DVC) 3.0
•On-chip video processor
•64-bit floating point texture filtering and blending
•Microsoft DirectX 9.0 Shader Model 3.0 support
•OpenGL 1.5 support
•Superscalar GPU architecture
•128-bit memory interface with advanced memory control•Innovative 0.13 micron process technology
•Operating Systems Support Windows XP / 2000
•Power supply of 350 (and up) watt is highly recommended for system stability
•Memory Interface: 128-bit
•Fill Rate (billion texels/sec.): 4.0
•Vertices/sec. (Million): 375
•Pixels per clock (peak): 8
•RAMDACs (MHz): 400
The Chronicles of Riddick - Escape From Butcher Bay Director's Cut
Virtual Drive 7 Professional Version
Restore It 3 Professional Version
Bundle MSI developed software
•MSI Live Update Series ( Live VGA BIOS & Live VGA Driver) - Automatically online download & update VGA BIOS & Drivers, reduce the risk of getting the wrong files, and never have the trouble on web site searching.
•GoodMem - Automatically release the system memory space, reduce the risk of system hang-up.
•LockBox - Instantly enter the data lock mode when you must leave your system for a while.
•WMIinfor - Automatically list the detail system configuration, it helpful for engineering service people.
•MSI Secure DOC
•Adobe Acrobat Reader
•Trend Micro PC-Cillin 2000
•Microsoft DirectX 8.1
One of the major selling points of the NX6600GT-VTD128SP is its inclusion of The Chronicles of Riddick - Escape From Butcher Bay - Developers Cut. This was one of those surprise titles that appeared on store shelves at a great price and delivers a solid gaming experience. MSI latched onto that popularity and opted to include the full version as a centerpiece of the NX6600GT-VTD128SP, even giving Vin Diesel prime real estate on the retail package.
Along with the aforementioned gaming title, MSI kept on giving with further software additions such as PowerCinema, Power2Go, PowerProducer, Virtual Drive 7 Professional Version and Restore It 3 Professional Version. Rounding out the bundle was a User's Manual, a Quick Reference Guide, a Setup CD and accompanying hardware. Being a VIVO ready card, the NX6600GT included a VIVO block and S-Video cable, while a power splitter was included along with VGA-to-DVI adapter.