MSI NX8800GTX-T2D768E-HD

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MSI NX8800GTX-T2D768E-HD
  • MSI NX8800GTX-T2D768E-HD
  • MSI NX8800GTX-T2D768E-HD
  • MSI NX8800GTX-T2D768E-HD
  • Expert Rating

    4.50 / 5

Pros

  • Unified architecture, DirectX 10 capable, excellent performance, quiet operation.

Cons

  • Increased power requirements, increased space requirements.

Bottom Line

This is by far the hottest card on the market and will continue to do the job well into the future. If you want the best performance then this is the card to get.

Would you buy this?

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The 8800GTX GPU (graphics processor unit) is currently the best performer on the market and the NX8800GTX-T2D768E proves that MSI's iteration of the NVIDIA GPU is as powerful as they come. Not only does it blow all other competition out of the water by current benchmark standards, but its unified architecture and DirectX 10 functionality give it a brighter future with the impending release of next-gen games.

The unified architecture represents one of the most dramatic hardware overhauls that graphics cards have seen for some time. These changes have removed unnecessary delays and overheads in the graphics card pipeline, streamlining the whole process for greater efficiency and a more elaborate gaming experience.

Unlike previous cards from either NVIDIA or ATI, which use fixed pixel or vertex processors to render certain elements of the on-screen image, the MSI NX8800GTX uses 128 stream processors, which can be dynamically allocated to process pixel, vertex, geometry or physics data as needed. By allowing tasks to be dynamically allocated to stream processors, no part of the hardware is left idle when it could be contributing to the performance.

The MSI NX8800GTX is not just about streamlining though. With a Core speed of 575MHz, 768MB of 900MHz (1800MHz) GDDR3 memory and the added bandwidth of a 384-bit memory bus it has more grunt than any other card on the market. The 128 stream processors give it significantly more processing power than the 48 pixel shaders used in the top-end Radeon cards from last year, without even taking into consideration their dynamic allocation functionality.

In our tests it performed above and beyond what you need for current games, even at resolutions up to 1680 x 1050, the native resolution of a 22in LCD monitor. In 3DMark 2006 at default settings (1280 x 1024, no anti-aliasing [AA] or anisotropic filtering [AF]) it got 11894 and ran every test extremely smoothly. Even with 8x AA and 16x AF at 1680 x 1050 it scored an impressive 6387 and ran every test without a hitch.

In-game benchmarks using FEAR and Quake 4 showed that even with maximum quality settings turned on, the card produced frame rates that were overkill for smooth game play. In Quake 4 at high-quality settings using a resolution of 1600 x 1200 and 16x AA it punched out 179.2fps (frames per second), almost triple what is considered necessary for smooth game play. In FEAR using 1600 x 1200, 4x AA and maximum quality settings it got 79fps - again more than enough for smooth game play.

These three tests simply show how good this card performs against other cards in the DirectX 9 arena, but the real benefits of this card will truly become apparent when the first DirectX 10 games are released. At present there are no DirectX 10 games planned for release early this year, but a number of games including Supreme Commander and Microsoft Flight Sim X plan to release DirectX 10 functionality and material in patches within the coming months.

Physically it's the longest board currently available and it takes up two PCI slots worth of space due to its large cooler. Despite its increased power and large cooler however, the MSI NX8800GTX runs fairly quietly and is barely noticeable when up against standard CPU coolers and case fans. It's also the first gaming card to require two dedicated PCI-Express, 6-pin power cables to run. MSI state that a 400watt power supply will be sufficient, but keep in mind your other hardware's power requirements.

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