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eVGA GeForce2 MX Showdown


By: Jonathan Martini - June 20, 2001

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NVIDIA's GeForce2 MX was created to cater to the budget minded gamer looking for support for new technologies at an affordable price. The GeForce2 MX has become an extremely successful chip for NVIDIA as it has allowed them to enter the OEM market with a very competitively priced chip that has superior performance to others in the same category.

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.

Faster is Good

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 any game.

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's Addition

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.

Next Page: The Cards

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Last Updated on June 20, 2001

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