NVIDIA has won over another segment of the market with the
GeForce2 MX, but fierce competition between the MX and similarly priced ATI
Radeon VE has forced NVIDIA to implement a new outlook on the market.
NVIDIA began creating two different versions of their GeForce2
MX chip, dubbed the GeForce2 MX200 and MX400. As the numbers state, the MX400 is
the better performer of the two as it supports a 128-bit wide bus utilizing SD
RAM or 64-bit DDR RAM. The MX200 only support 64-bit SD RAM.
So what differs between the MX400 and it's older sibling?
Unfortunately it's only the core clock speed, as the MX400 supports a core speed
of 200 MHz, an increase of 25 MHz over the original MX's core speed.
More speed is better right? Wrong, as the original GeForce2 MX,
as well as the whole GeForce and GeForce2 line were crippled by the unforgiving
memory bandwidth bottleneck. The bandwidth bottleneck slowed down the
performance of the powerful chips limiting the performance of these chips. An
increase in core speed entailed little to no performance gain, whereas an
increase in memory speeds could add quite a few additional frames per second to
Several MX based boards, such as the Hercules 3D Prophet II MX
and eVGA's own e-GeForce2 MX TwinView were constructed using 5.5 ns RAM, which
was faster than NVIDIA's 6 ns requirement. This rather seemingly small
difference made quite a difference when combined with an urge to overclock. Some
6ns memory modules refused to pass their 166MHz speed, while many others maxed
out around 180-190 MHz. The 5.5 ns RAM modules could run at 183 MHz (their
specified speed) with absolutely no problem, with many of them passing the
200MHz barrier, offering more performance to owners of these cards.
Unfortunately, NVIDIA's reference design for the MX400 based
boards only requires 6ns RAM, thus negating any performance improvements the
higher core clock speed entails.
eVGA saw it necessary to improve upon NVIDIA's requirements, as
they did with previous iteration of the MX based cards. The e-GeForce2 MX400
32MB arrives with high speed 5 ns RAM, which runs at 200 MHz, thus upping the memory
speed by 33 MHz and raising the memory bottleneck allowing performance above and
beyond those of it's competitors.
The e-GeForce2 MX400 64MB arrives with 64 meg of 6ns memory to
keep the costs down.
We'll be examining if 64 megs of memory will be provide better
performance than 32 megs of faster clocked memory. But first, let's take a
closer look at both of these cards.