MSI GeForce NX6800GT-T2D256E

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Currently, if you're in the market for a video card, there are two great options that will get you premium performance without blowing your budget: the Radeon X800XL from ATi and the GeForce 6800GT from nVidia.  Sure, there are more powerful cards, namely the X850XT and GF 6800 Ultra, but the price of these cards alone can sometimes be greater than an entire entry-level system purchase.  In our past reviews, we've seen that the X800XL and 6800GT create a gamer's dilemma - their similar performance leads to a virtual stalemate.  What might be the 6800GT's major advantage (at least the PCI Express based version) then, is the ability to run in SLI (Scalable Link Interface) mode, by connecting two similar cards thereby increasing performance.  This, of course, requires a motherboard that supports SLI configurations.  And of course, in addition to the nForce 4 SLI for AMD platforms, the introduction of the nForce 4 SLI Intel Edition boards will finally bring this much-hyped about technology to the Intel crowd.

Today, we will have a look at just one of the many 6800GTs to hit the market, this one from MSI called the NX6800GT-T2D256E.  Take note of the long model name, because word is there is another similarly named card from MSI, the NX6800GTX, which will come with only 12 pipelines instead of the GT's 16.  The NX6800GT is one of the cards that MSI has labeled with their "Game with MSI" slogan, and based on the oversized packaging, colorful artwork, and in-your-face game adverts, it looks like we're in for a show. 

    
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Specifications & Features of the MSI NX6800GT
Who's got game?
CINEFX 3.0 SHADING ARCHITECTURE
  • Vertex Shaders
    Support for Microsoft DirectX 9.0 Vertex Shader 3.0
    Displacement mapping
    Geometry Instancing
    Infinite length vertex programs*
  • Pixel Shaders
    Support for DirectX 9.0 Pixel Shader 3.0
    Full pixel branching support
    Support for Multiple Render Targets (MRTs)
    Infinite length pixel programs*
  • Next-Generation Texture Engine
    Up to 16 textures per rendering pass
    Support for 16-bit floating point format and 32-bit floating point format
    Support for non-power of two textures
    Support for sRGB texture format for gamma textures
    DirectX and S3TC texture compression
  • Full 128-bit studio-quality floating point precision through the entire rendering pipeline with native hardware support for 32bpp, 64bpp, and 128bpp rendering modes

64-BITTEXTURE FILTERING AND BLENDING

  • Full floating point support throughout entire pipeline
  • Floating point filtering improves the quality of images in motion
  • Floating point texturing drives new levels of clarity and image detail
  • Floating point frame buffer blending gives detail to special effects like motion blur and explosions

INTELLISAMPLE 3.0 TECHNOLOGY

  • Advanced 16x anisotropic filtering
  • Blistering-fast anti-aliasing and compression performance
  • New rotated-grid anti-aliasing removes jagged edges for incredible edge quality
  • Support for advanced lossless compression algorithms for color, texture, and z-data at even higher resolutions and frame rates
  • Fast z-clear
  • High-resolution compression technology (HCT) increases performance at higher resolutions through advances in compression technology

ULTRASHADOW II TECHNOLOGY

  • Designed to enhance the performance of shadow-intensive games, like id Softwares Doom III

ADVANCED ENGINEERING

  • Designed for PCI Express x16
  • Supports PCI Express high-speed interconnect
  • Designed for high-speed GDDR3 memory
  • 256-bit advanced memory interface
  • 0.13 micron process technology
  • Advanced thermal management and thermal monitoring
ADVANCED VIDEO AND DISPLAY FUNCTIONALITY
  • Dedicated on-chip video processor
  • MPEG video encode and decode
  • WMV9 decode acceleration
  • Advanced adaptive de-interlacing
  • High-quality video scaling and filtering
  • DVD and HDTV-ready MPEG-2 decoding up to 1920x1080i resolutions
  • Dual integrated 400 MHz RAMDACs for display resolutions up to and including 2048x1536 at 85Hz.
  • Dual DVO ports for interfacing to external TMDS transmitters and external TV encoders
  • Microsoft Video Mixing Renderer (VMR) supports multiple video windows with full video quality and features in each window
  • Full NVIDIA nView multi-display technology capability

NVIDIA DIGITAL VIBRANCE CONTROL (DVC) 3.0

  • DVC color controls
  • DVC image sharpening controls

OPERATING SYSTEMS

  • Windows XP
  • Windows ME
  • Windows 2000
  • Windows 9X
  • Macintosh OS, including OS X
  • Linux

API SUPPORT

  • Complete DirectX support, including the latest version of Microsoft DirectX 9.0
  • Full OpenGL, including OpenGL 1.5

* The operating system or APIs can impose limits, but the hardware does not limit shader program length.


MSI GeForce NX6800GT
GPU Clock Speed: 350MHz
Memory Clock Speed: 1GHz
Memory Interface: 256-bit
Fill Rate (billion texels/sec.): 5.6
Vertices/sec. (Million): 525

 

    

MSI is no slouch when it comes to providing superb add-ons to their products, and it was no different with the NX6800GT-T2D256E.   Power consumption is a bit higher than other cards, more than can be supplied by the PCI-e slot, so the first piece we came across was a 6-pin PCI-Express power cable.  There were two MOLEX power splitters that can be used with the power cable if needed.  One DVI-to-VGA connector is provided in the package, although the card sports two DVI ports.  Thus, a second one must be purchased for dual VGA setups, which are quite rare anyway.  Two univeral guides are included in the package, and even though they cover the basics well, they are geared to cover MSI's entire line of GeForce 6 products in general rather than solely reflect on the NX6800GT-T2D256E.  Included software consisted of a number of utilties, some of which one wouldn't normally expect to see with a video card.  These included a Virtual Drive 7 package, Restore It 3, and a Foreign Language Learning Machine.  More typical CDs such as DVD-player software, a drivers disc, and SE versions of Photoshop rounded out the collection.

    

As we pointed out earlier, MSI has gone all out in creating a gamer's package, self-titled the "Best Game Bundle of 2004" (well, 2005), and we can hardly argue with them.  The first thing you'll see in this kit are pictures from four top-selling games, XIII, Prince of Persia - Sands of Time, Splinter Cell - Pandora Tomorrow, and URU - Ages Beyond Mist.  Unfortunately, there's only three of these in the package.  Depending on where the card is purchased, you will get Prince of Persia OR Splinter Cell, but not both.  Still, that's three full games to choose from, worth at least $100-150.  In addition, there's a demo CD that contains another 14 game demos.  It's quite a collection of software to be had, and they'll show off the NX6800GT-T2D256E's graphics strength well.

 

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