Micro-Star International, or MSI, is headquartered in Taiwan and specializes in the design and manufacture of motherboards, add-in graphics cards, workstations, servers, barebones PCs and notebooks. Many of their product lines continue to grow in popularity as demonstrated by the ~1.7 million motherboards that were shipped in September of 2007.
MSI NX8800GTX vs. MSI NX8800GT
MSI also reported that graphics card shipments reached a historical high in September. With ~1.4 million units shipped, they exceeded the number of shipments by Asus for the first time. Motherboards currently contribute to 30-40% of MSI's revenue stream, while graphics cards account for 20-30%.
The MSI NX8800GT has a 256-bit memory bus and combined with a die shrink to 65nm, moderately overclocked clock speeds and an optimized shader/texturing architecture, it is able to compete with the stock GeForce 8800 GTX, which was designed with a more expensive 384-bit memory bus. The MSI NX8800GT supports PCI Express 2.0 and has a second generation PureVideo engine with acceleration and post processing for HD DVD and Blu-ray. Other key features include:
NVIDIA Unified Architecture
Windows Vista and DirectX 10 Support
NVIDIA SLI Technology
PCI Express Support
NVIDIA nView Multi-Display Technology
Dual-Link DVI Support
High Quality Texture Filtering
Coverage Sampling Antialiasing
128-Bit Floating Point High Dynamic-Range (HDR) Lighting
The graphics card is protected within the packaging shown below, which also contains a quick user's guide, a DVI-to-VGA adapter, an S-Video extended cable, an HDTV / Video-out connecting cable and a drivers and uilities CD.
After installing the graphics card and Windows XP 169.01 beta drivers, Everest Ultimate Edition's GPU applet provided the following report.
Everest GPU Readings
Compared to the reference core, shader, and memory clocks of 600MHz, 1500MHz, and 900MHz, the NX8800GT is moderately overclocked at 660MHz (+10%), 1650MHz (+10%), and 950MHz (+5.6%).
The beta version of the GPU-Z utility is pictured below. Note that the utility remains under development and is being hosted by techPowerUp.
GPU-Z Readout - MSI NX8800GT
And a GPU-Z report from a stock GeForce 8800 GTX.
GPU-Z Readout - GeForce 8800 GTX
In addition to the debut of the GeForce 8800 GT is a revamped multisampling transparency antialiasing (MSTAA) algorithm that combats aliasing in transparent textures. The driver-controlled algorithm applies to all GeForce 8 GPUs and enhances image quality close to the level provided by supersampling transparency antialiasing (SSTAA), but with less of a performance hit.
Half-Life 2 With Transparency Antialiasing
Although time consuming, benchmarks were conducted with multisampling and supersampling transparency antialiasing enabled in order to determine any impact on performance as the use of transparent textures varies by game. For example, antialiasing performance in Doom 3 was unaffected when either method of transparency antialiasing was enabled.
Far Cry With Transparency Antialiasing
Far Cry's Regulator level contains a generous amount of transparent textures as do certain areas in Half-Life 2. Transparency antialiasing is an under-reported feature that significantly improves image quality as shown by the following interactive demonstrations from past reviews.
The 169.01 beta drivers provided a 5-10% increase in performance across the board under Windows XP, which was discovered by accident. After having run the entire suite of benchmarks in this review with the 167.26 drivers on the installation CD, a 169.01 driver was released by NVIDIA on the weekend prior to the launch.
The drivers also have explicit antialiasing support for most titles based on Unreal Engine 3, which is shown in the Unreal Tournament 3 demo Flyby benchmark results.