Introduction:

This is the MSI Ti-4200-TD8X64 which is one of MSI's new 64mb Nvidia Ti-4200 8x AGP video cards. This is the first chance we have had to get our hands onto an MSI video card--and I hope it won't be the last after the results we recieved from this card! For this review we will be putting the MSI Ti-4200-TD8X64 up against our fastest 64mb and 128mb Ti-4200's which both happen to be 4x AGP cards.

Since MSI’s founding in 1986, MSI has remained at the forefront of providing easy-to-implement, state-of-the-art product quality and robust computing solutions for their consumers. They are a global company with sales of $1.2 billion back in 2001. MSI also serves an international network of distributors and OEM customers in the US, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and Latin America. So even if you buy a brand name computer such as a Dell you may be getting some MSI parts in the mix.

MSI currently offers more than 16 video cards all featuring Nvidia chipsets. So if you like they way this card looks due to this review check out their card line-up. They are also working on developing the new Nvidia FX design, which will be out in the first quarter of 2003.

To find out more about MSI's many products or history please visit the MSI Site.

Impression:

The first thing that caught our attention was the well laid out box that is able to cram a ton of information into a small space, but does not overwhelm the reader. Like normal, the box has no impact on the review, but we believe MSI did a great job on the visual appeal if the product was on the shelf.

Bundled with the Ti4200-TD8X64 is a very impressive assortment of software and games. It came with a total of 10 CD cases packed full with the list of software below!

Software / Utilities

Games

MSI also includes a five foot S-Video cable, a DVI-I to VGA adapter, a nifty 9 pin to TV-Out connector, and a case badge. With all these included you can run dual display monitors right out of the box.

Features:

The very first thing that jumped out at me is the card layout. Yes, you are right if you saw that the card is not laid out like the Nvidia reference board for a Ti4200.

MSI put a nice sized aluminum bottom heatsink with a 50mm fan on this card that uses copper cooling fins to help cool the bottom sink. Many of you may be surprised by the fact that I said aluminum as the bottom heatsink material, but it is the truth! We are legit and a few other sites must have not paid attention.

As you can see MSI applied enough thermal compund on the GPU, but if you notice the memory modules are lacking enough compund. If you have a good eye, you can notice that one of the modules is not seating correctly to the heatsink. In our books MSI being good on 7 out of 8 modules is just fine.

The above pictures show the MSI Ti4200-TD8X64 with the front and back heatsink removed. If you notice the 3.6ns Hynix memory is covered for the most part. Below you can notice the Winbond hardware monitoring IC and a thermistor that is used to monitor GPU temperature.

Key Features:

Now that you have a pretty good understanding of the card, we can go ahead and see how it performs!

Benchmarks & Performance:

Our Test System:

Video Cards:

Testing Procedure:

All testing was done on a fresh install of Windows XP Professional build 2600. All benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running. For overclocking the videocards, we used the built-in overclocking feature that is included with the Nvidia 40.72 drivers. We were also using VIA Hyperion version 4.45 4in1 drivers. Our testing processor was running unlocked at 166FSB and a 10.5 multiplyer giving us a grand total of 1.75ghz. During this review, the room temperature was 22 degrees Celsius, while the case temperature was 25 degrees Celsius.

FutureMark; 3dmark2001 Second Edition, Build 330:

3DMark2001SE build 330 is the latest installment in the 3DMark series by FutureMark. By combining DirectX8 support with completely new graphics, it continues to provide good overall system benchmarks. 3DMark2001SE build 330 was created in cooperation with the major 3D accelerator and processor manufacturers to provide a reliable set of diagnostic tools. It demonstrates 3D gaming performance by using real-world gaming technology to test a system's true performance abilities. All tests were run at 1024x768 at 32 bit color and then again including 4x AA.

The first chart shows the results without AA.

This second chart shows the results using 4x AA.

Results: 3dMark2001SE build 330 shows that ABIT OTES is the fastest at default clock speeds, which makes perfect sense, because the ABIT has a faster 275mhz core speed. Although by running the cards at indentical 290mhz core and 590mhz memory speeds, the MSI 8x was able to out-perform both 4x cards running both 64mb and 128mb of memory.

Nvidia; Chameleon Mark:

Chameleon Mark is not a brand new benchmarking utility, but it still shows a video card's true capabilities. This benchmark is based upon the popular "Chameleon" demo released by Nvidia with the introduction of the GeForce3 line of GPUs. Chameleon Mark is primarily used to measure pixel shader performance for a variety of shaders. Let's see how the Albatron performs against the other cards in Chameleon Mark at 1024x768 with the 40.72 drivers:

The first graph is with all three of our test cards at their default settings.

The next graph looks at how the ABIT OTES and the Albatron do while overclocked.

Results: Again due to the default speeds, the ABIT OTES easily surpasses the others. Although when overclocked to each cards' limit the MSI 8x takes the gold, but not by that much over the ABIT OTES.

NovaLogic; Comanche 4:

The Comanche 4 benchmark demo is a unique benchmark as it represents a real-world gaming experience. It contains the single player Eagle's Talon mission from the game as well as a detailed cinematic. This DirectX 8.1 benchmark demo measures your system's performance in the standard frames per second format. On this benchmark, we tested our cards at 1024x768 x 32-bit and the audio turned off.

The first graph is with all three of our test cards without AA.

The next graph shows our results using 4x AA to put even more strain on the cards.

Results: We have found that the 128mb Albatron Turbo runs good on this benchmark as it tends to benefit those cards that have 128mb of memory. Although the MSI 8x does not come in first place, it still has a strong standing and great performance to our two leading Ti-4200 cards.

CodeCult; Code Creatures Pro:

The Codecreatures benchmark is written with Microsoft's DirectX 8.1 API and incorporates the use of Vertex and Pixel Shaders popular on next generation 3D accelerators. The benchmark plays a photo-realistic nature scene and calculates the performance of the graphics adapter by measuring the FPS that it can display at 1024x768, 1280x1024 and 1600x1200 resolutions. The score is a geometric mean of those three resolutions called the Codecreatures number. Although, for this review we tested tested our cards at 1024x768 x 32-bit with the sound disabled. We also changed our memory to a 512mb stick of Corsair PC-3200C2 since 512mb of memory is needed for this benchmark.

The first graph is with all three of our test cards without AA.

The next graph shows our results using 4x AA to put even more strain on the cards.

Results: I really love this benchmark because it tends to push the cards harder than any other benchmark I use. I also feel that this benchmark is one of the future, since pixel shading and graphics seem to be going in this direction. Once again the MSI 8x card is able to take the lead or tie for the lead when overclocked.

That concludes our benchmarks we chose to do on our MSI Ti-4200-TD8X64 video card. Let's go on and see our final thoughts on the card.

Overclocking:

We were not expecting this card to be a huge overclocker, but we got results worth talking about! Our 3.6ns Hynix memory was able to run all the way up 630mhz with some fragments, but it still could complete all benchmarks. The fragments did cause the scores to lower and therefore we found 620mhz was a nice happy place for the memory to run at. This is a 107mhz overclock on the memory which is well over what the 3.6ns ram is rated at.

As for the core, it comes default at 250mhz and we were able to run it up to 295mhz before the scores once again began to lower due to fragments occuring during benchmarks. Again, this is a very nice overclock and the highest overclock on the core of a Ti-4200 that we have seen to date on our test rig.

To sum up our overclocking section, the card runs 45mhz faster on the core and almost 120mhz faster on the memory than the default Nvidia Ti 4200 spec sheet shows on a 64mb card. This is very impressive from a card that has not been heavily marketed to the overclocking crowd.

Conclusions:

This card currently runs around US $170 on the internet and comes with the best software bundle, quietest fan, and great overclocking abilities. MSI has put together a very attractive package with this card and I think it has been overlooked by many, due to the marketing blitzkrieg by other companies when the first 8x cards came onto the market.

If you are one of the thousands of consumers that plans on picking up a Ti-4200 when the Nvidia FX starts hitting the market, add this one to the top of your list of choices. This card is pretty silent in operation, comes with the best software bundle I have seen with a video card, and it performs with the big name overclocking companies. Based on these facts we consider this card a good buy for both the average user and the true enthusiast . Kudos from us to MSI for creating a package that left us with a new understanding of a what a great Ti-4200 product is.

PROS

CONS

IMPROVEMENTS