MSI NX8500GT Review
MSI have introduced a budget graphics card that features DirectX10 support, making it a good match for those who need a card designed for Vista but at the same time not wanting to spend a large amount of money.
To start with lets take a look at the technical specs, the card features 256mb of DDR2 (800 Mhz effective clock speed), a 460Mhz GPU, DirectX10 Pixel shader model 4.0 support, 128-bit high dynamic range lighting, 16 x full-screen anti-aliasing, SLI ready, Dual Link DVI which can support display resolutions up to 2560 x 1600 at 60hz and of course Nvidia Quantum effects processor. If you want to see the full spec, please click on this link here.
Now that the above is out of the way we can concentrate on how the card performs in our real world tests (i.e. playing some games, using it in Windows), but before we do this we will quickly run through the box contents.
Box of Delights?
For a budget card you wont expect to see bundled games but then again most people who buy this card are buying it to use for general Windows use and to play the odd game when it suites them. What you do get bundled is an s-video cable, RGB cable and a DVI-analogue converter adaptor, plus a series of useful utilities, for example there is a Lock box tool for allowing you to lock out your Windows desktop so that no icons or contents can be accessed. You also get a copy of Showshifter which was a rival to Microsoft’s media centre, we say was because Showsifter have now gone bust, meaning that the program becomes obsolete as you can't register on their site.
Making up for this is MSI securedoc, which is a little program that allows you to encrypt documents with a simple right click options (as it is compatible with Windows file manager).
Also you get E-colour3Deep for optimising your display for 3D Games and Thinsoft BeTwin which allows multiple users to share your computer at the same time (needs Internet registration).
For Overclockers and for product updates you get a copy of Dualcore centre and MSI Live 3 . The Live program can automatically check if your product is running the latest driver, whilst the Dualcore centre can be used to Overclock your card. There are preset categories that you can enable which automatically overclock or underclock your card, for example selecting Game mode gives you a slight performance increase but in reality it does very little to improve our test games FPS score.
Delving into Advanced allows you to manually overclock the card, but with only a small heatsink and fan you will need to ensure there is more cooling if you want to get better performance.
We have been running the card over two weeks now and for general performance in Windows we could not complain, colours were sharp and playback of videos, viewing web pages was A-OK.
During our tests we found the card to cope with older style games like Quake4/Prey pretty well in 1024 x 768 and to some extent 1280 x 1024, but when there is a lot of action on-screen the card struggles in higher resolutions. Plus as soon as we added AA or AF to our test games the card grinds to a halt.
In Games such as Splinter Cell 4 it had problems with the display drivers, so you may need to wait for some publishers to produce patches or for more compatible drivers to be released before certain current games will work.
If like us you download the latest drivers for the card off NVIDIA’s website or use 3DMark06 to test the card we found it reported the card to be 512mb instead of 256mb, but using MSI's own drivers it correctly reports the card as 256mb, which it seems the NVIDIA drivers are not recognising the card properly due to its young age.
With all this aside for around £60 you are getting a card that can at least allow you to play games (including DirectX 10 games when they appear) albeit at lower resolutions.