ASUS Extreme AX600XT vs. MSI PCX 5750: Budget PCI-Express

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Introduction To The Cards

 

With much anticipation and fanfare, the next generation in video card interface has arrived.  PCI Express, the successor to AGP, is now available on a number of Intel-based boards starting with the 900 series chipset.  VIA, SiS, and others are sure to follow in the coming months. It's still uncertain when the other OEM solutions will come out with PCI-E (not to be confused with PCI-X), but regardless of potential delays, PCI-E will be universal sooner than later.

The potential benefits of PCI-E over AGP are dramatic, offering peak bandwidth of 4GBps (8GB concurrent), which more than doubles that of AGP 8X.  Initially, PCI-E appeared on the high-end of the scale with NVIDIA's 6800s and ATI's X800 series.  But now we are starting to see the trickle-down effect, with PCI-E hitting the mainstream market.  However, not all PCI-E cards are created equal.

ATI's X700 series of cards offers PCI-E natively and, so far, does not come in AGP flavors.  NVIDIA, on the other hand, utilizes its HSI (High Speed Interconnect) bridge to convert native AGP GPUs to PCI-E, with the exception of the 6600, which is a native PCI Express part.  While each company will argue the benefits of its approach, you should be concerned with added latency whenever a conversion takes place, leaving us to wonder how the NVIDIA's midrange bridged solutions will compare to ATI's pure approach.

Certainly, all of this may be a moot point with the impressive showing from the GeForce 6600 and X700 series.  Nonetheless, while we wait for these two cards to hit store shelves, there are several solutions currently available that may fit your needs. 

Here we offer a side-by-side comparion of an ASUS Extreme AX600XT and an MSI PCX 5750, today's value-based cards.  With newer offerings looming on the horizon, these value-based models may become tomorrow's ultra-affordable PCI-E solutions.  So, depending on your needs, they may warrant a closer look.  Let's take a look at their respective retail packaging, then we'll get more familiar with the cards themselves.


The first of the two packages we'll look at is the MSI PCX 5750.  This bundle's main strong points are the games included with the card.  When it comes to including software with a product, MSI has a knack for piling it on.  What is even more refreshing is that MSI includes a number of current gaming titles, adding to the overall value of the package.  Both URU and XIII are very recent, with the first aimed at the Myst adventure crowd and XIII being a unique first-person shooter with a comic-book feel.  If neither of these titles tickles your fancy, check out the rest of the list. It goes on with a full version of Prince of Persia 3D and demos of such titles as Joint Operations: Typhoon Rising, and IL-2 Sturmvok, to name a few.

  

Certainly, games are not the only thing in the package. MSI also included several Quick User Guides, a DVI-to-VGA adapter, and S-Video cable.  Plus you'll get an MSI case badge and a number of non-gaming software titles, including MSI's own 5.1-channel DVD player.  Below is a fairly comprehensive list of what comes with the MSI PCX 5750, and quite a list it is.

    

 

          Accessories 

  • DVI-to-VGA adaptor
  • S-Video cable
  • MSI case badge

          Software Bundle

  • MSI Media Deluxe Center II
  • Virtual Drive 7 Professional
  • Restore It 3 Professional
  • MSI 5.1-channel DVD player
  • Foreign Language Learning Machine
  • Photoshop Album SE
  • 3D Album SE
  • MSI Live Update Series
  • 3D! Turbo Experience
  • GoodMen
  • LockBox
  • WMIinfor
  • ThinSoft BeTwin

 

          Software Bundled

  • URU
  • XIII
  • Prince of Persia 3D

          14 in 1 Games Collection

  • Praetorians
  • Black Hawk Down
  • YAGER
  • Joint Operations Typhoon Rising
  • Heaven & Hell
  • Comanche 4
  • Divine Divinity
  • American Conquest
  • Etherlords2
  • Commandos Destination Berlin
  • IL-2 Sturmovik
  • Beach Life
  • Splinter Cell
  • Deus EX Invisible War

The next package on our list is the ASUS Extreme AX600XT.  The retail package differs significantly from a gaming standpoint when compared to the MSI bundle.  ASUS was a bit less over the top, offering a modest collection of games and bonus software.  In fact, the ASUS card comes with only one game, Dues Ex: Invisible War, along with several graphics titles such as Ulead Cool 3D 2.0, PhotoExpress 4, and Power Director 3.  ASUS also includes its own flavor of ASUS DVD XP to handle your DVD playback needs. 

    

This package has more of a multimedia tone than MSI's gaming approach.  While the AX600XT also sports a User's Guide, DVI-to-VGA adapter, and bonus software, it has a few twists of its own.  For one, ASUS includes an HDTV adaptor that splits video signal to separate R-G-B channels.  A VIVO/S-Video breakout box is also provided for video capture needs, as well as outputting to a standard television.

    

          Accessories

  • Cable/Adaptor
  • 9-pin S-Video-comp VIVO cable
  • DVI-to-VGA output adaptor
  • HDTV adaptor

 

          Software Bundled

  • Free CD case
  • Deus Ex: Invisible War
  • Ulead Cool 3D 2.0
  • Photo Express 4.0 SE (2 in 1)
  • ASUS DVD XP
  • Power Director 3
  • Media Show
  • ASUS Driver and Utilities

Each of these packages targets a different audience.  The MSI PCX 5750 aims to capture the gamer on a budget, offering a modest card and a terrific collection of games with some new and old favorites.  In contrast, the ASUS Extreme AX600XT takes a more multimedia approach, offering HDTV and VIVO options along with video/graphics editing software and one popular gaming title.  Depending on your needs, both cards have something to offer with their retail packaging.  Next, we'll focus on each card more closely, then we'll line them up on the test bed to see how they compare to each other.

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