MSI's VT2D8X GeForce4 Ti4600

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MSI's VT2D8X GeForce4 Ti4600
More Bandwidth, More Cooling, More Goodies!

By - Jeff Bouton
February 16, 2003

The MSI VT2D8X GeForce4 Ti4600 Video Card Up Close
The Basic Package

For the most part, the VT2D8X is not really all that different, compared to older Ti4600 cards, other than it's AGP8X support.  The GPU runs at the familiar 300MHz. and the 128MB of DDR RAM is clocked at 650MHz.  What does set this card apart from other models is its Dual-Head DVI and VIVO features, as well as its customized cooler that we'll discuss in a moment.  The beauty of this card is whether you plan on using an LCD monitor or a traditional CRT, visual improvements can be seen with both.  The DVI outputs do not need to utilize the conditioners commonly found with standard VGA based cards.  Instead, the signal is pure digital, translating into perhaps slightly better 2D desktop quality, regardless which type of monitor is used. 

We've seen a lot of reworked Ti's enter the market lately, boasting AGP8X and a wide variety of customize cooling packages.  The MSI flavor comes with a sleek two piece cooling unit that aims to keep the card at or below normal operating temperatures, without the additional noise often associated with customized coolers.  Utilizing the T.O.P (Thermal Obviation Protection) cooling package, MSI claims that it is the most efficient and quiet unit available compared to offerings from such manufacturers as Abit, ASUS, Chaintech, Gainward, Leadtek, PNY and Visiontek.  While we haven't put together a full-blown comparison to validate these claims, we can confirm that this is the quietest cooler we've seen, or heard, in quite some time.  The only thing that comes close in my mind is the ACS2 from eVGA, which was noticeably missing from MSI's comparison list.

What was most impressive about this card was how well MSI was able to apply thermal grease to the front and back of the GPU and RAM.  So many times we've reported on new cards with optimized coolers being applied, yet underneath we would find thermal pads or poor applications of thermal compound.  What MSI has done is perfect the process, making sure that all components make good thermal contact with the T.O.P cooler.  This is a testament to their excellent quality assurance practices upheld during manufacturing.  As the track history of customized coolers has shown, fancy coolers do not equal extra overclocking.  However, a superior cooler will keep the components running within normal tolerances while overclocked, helping to prolong the life of the card..


 

Some Eye Candy
Examples of Visual Quality

No graphic card review would be complete without some screenshots that demonstrate a video card's visual prowess.  I thought it would be good to use one of the games that came included in the bundle.  Morrowind seemed like a good choice, so we turned up all of the video quality details in the drivers and the game and took some screenshots.  Clearly the details in the room with the fireplace are beautiful.  The fire is very realistic and the rug to the left looks woven and soft. The next shot is of a table in the belly of a sea ship.  The details of the wood, rope and basket really caught my attention, however, the real money shot was the water scene.  The details of the hands are pretty good and the landscape is ok too, but the clincher is the water.  Notice the realism in the reflection and yet it is transparent enough to see the bottom of the lake on the shore.  Now look real hard and see how the rain is impacting the surface, making individual ripples with each drop.  The developers of Morrwind employed some leading edge 3D Graphics techniques and the MSI VT2D8X renders them nicely.

Morrowind-The Elder Scrolls III

OK, let's get back to work.  Next we're going to take a quick look at how well the VT2D8X overclocked before firing up the HH test bed.
 

Overclocking
We Want More!

We've reviewed a fair amount of new video cards that come with some form of customized cooling package and one thing doesn't change.  While you may think that these contraptions would give you a huge advantage in overclocking, compared to a card with stock cooling, the difference is usually minimal at best.  The VT2D8X is no different, but that doesn't mean that it didn't overclock well...en contraire!  In fact, this card was a very good overclocker.  We started out at the default 300MHz core and 650MHz DDR memory and ended up with a stable 325MHz core and 705MHz DDR memory.  We would like to have seen the memory increase higher, but 705 was decent and it is doubtful another 20 or 30MHz. would've impacted any scores that much.  In the end, the card posted a gain of 8% across the board.  In the pages to come, we'll throw in some overclocking scores to see what you can expect with this kind of increase in overall muscle.

 

The Test Rig and Some DirectX Testing...

 
Tags:  MSI, GeForce, MS, 460, force, 2D

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