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MSI Ti4800SE-VTD8X

Remember the good ol’ days when 3D accelerators were new and card makers were trying to convince you to make the leap to 3D? MSI obviously remembers the good ol’ days (and recognizes the need to differentiate its products). Their NVIDIA Ti4800SE offering, the Ti4800SE-VTD8X, is chock full of goodies.

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Introduction


Remember the good ol’ days when 3D accelerators were new and card makers were trying to convince you to make the leap to 3D? Back then we paid serious money for new and unproven technology, so to further entice us all kinds of goodies made their way into the box. If you didn’t get at least one new game you were ripped off, and you felt pretty gypped if you didn’t get at least two. Not to mention custom drivers and utilities, of course. Today you’ll get a whole lot more hardware for a lot less money, but you’re usually lucky to get a few pieces of crippleware or shovelware along with your scant documentation and outdated reference drivers.

MSI (Micro Star International), obviously remembers the good ol’ days (and recognizes the need to differentiate its products). Their NVIDIA Ti4800SE offering, the Ti4800SE-VTD8X, is chock full of goodies. But before we get to that, let’s review the GeForce4 nomenclature. At the bottom of the ladder (ignoring the oddly named MX series) is the Ti4200. Next comes the Ti4400 and it’s followed by the king, the Ti4600. Thus the Ti4800 must be the usurper, ready to depose the 4600 – right? Er, not exactly. The Ti4800 is actually a Ti4400 with AGP 8X support. It sort of makes sense; the standard Ti4400 has AGP 4X support so if you double it you get a 4800. Therefore an 8X Ti4200 would be a Ti4400, and an 8X Ti4600 would be a Ti41200! Oh screw it, just forget the name and we’ll move on to the features.

Specifications & Features


Specifications:

Chipset FeaturesNVIDIA GeForce4 Ti4800SE

  • nfiniteFX™ II Engine for full programmability
    • Morphing
    • Programmable Pixel Shaders
  • Dual programmable Vertex Shaders
  • Accuview Antialiasing -high-resolution antialiasing
  • nView multi-display technology
  • Lightspeed Memory Architecture II engine for unmatched performance
  • Support for AGP 4X/8X
  • Shadow Buffers
  • Integrated hardware lighting engine
  • DirectX and S3TC texture compression
  • Dual cube environment mapping capability
    • Reflection maps
    • Accurate, real-time environment reflections
  • Hardware accelerated real-time shadows
  • True, reflective bump mapping
  • High-performance 2D rendering engine
  • High-quality HDTV/DVD playback
  • High-definition video processor (HDVP) for full-screen, full-frame
  • Operating Systems
    • Windows XP/2000/ME/98SE
  • API support
    • Complete DirectX support, including DirectX 8.1 and OpenGL 1.3 support

Card Features

  • 128MB DDR SDRAM
  • T.O.P. Tech.™ Cooler – Ultra Cooling and Silent Fansink
  • S-Video extended line cable
  • 9-pin Mini-extended connector to 4 port Video connector
  • DVI to VGA connector

Performance

  • 4.4 billion AA sample/sec. fill rate
  • 125 million vertices/sec.
  • 8.8 GB/sec. memory bandwidth
  • 2.1 GB/sec. AGP Bus bandwidth

Video Output

  • TV-out (S-Video connector)
  • Video-In (Composite Video)
  • Dual DVI Connector

Package Contents:

It’s all about the bundle, baby!

  • MSI Live VGA BIOS
  • MSI Live VGA Driver
  • MSI 3D!Turbo Experience™!
  • Hardware Monitor
  • InterVideo WinProducer/WinCoder Ver2.0
  • MSI 5.1 Channel DVD Player
  • Virtual Drive 7 Professional Version
  • Restore It 3 Professional Version
  • MSI 3D Desktop
  • MSI 5.1 Channel DVD Player
  • Foreign Language Learning Machine
  • 3D! Turbo Experience
  • GoodMem
  • LockBox
  • WMIinfor
  • ThinSoft BeTwin
  • MSI Secure DOC
  • E-Color
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader
  • Trend Micro PC-Cillin 2000
  • Microsoft® DirectX 8.1
  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon
  • The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
  • Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project
  • 7 in 1 Games Collection
    • The Sum of All Fears
    • IL-2 Sturmovik
    • Serious Sam 2 lite
    • Rally Trophy
    • Beam Breakers
    • Zax: The Alien Hunter
    • Oni
  • MSI Case Badge

The card itself is a beauty. It features a red PCB and a very nice looking copper fan/heatsink assembly. The underside of the card prominently shows off the continuation of the copper HSF. This is one card that will look very nice in a windowed case.

Installation


Installation was plug and play. What more can you say? OK, the instruction book does merit notice. Yes, I said book. Not a two-page pamphlet or PDF file, an actual book. With six chapters of incredibly detailed instructions! Granted, the book applies to all of MSI’s GeForce4 line, but I have never seen a video card, and darn few peripherals, with instructions this detailed and complete. MSI deserves major credit for providing something so many card makers completely ignore.

The MSI drivers add functionality to the Display Properties control panel, including a slider for overclocking the core and memory. Unfortunately, one must install the drivers to get the cool stuff and that means waiting for MSI to build a new package from NVIDIA’s reference drivers. MSI also includes utilities for monitoring, downloading, and installing BIOS and driver updates.

Performance


Test System Specs:

  • AMD Athlon XP 1800+ CPU
  • EPoX 8RDA+ Motherboard (nForce2)
  • 256MB Corsair XMS PC3200 DDR SDRAM, 256MB Corsair PC2400 DDR SDRAM
  • Maxtor 30GB, 60 GB Hard Drives
  • 52x24x52 Lite-On CD-RW
  • 52x Creative Labs CD-ROM
  • MSI GeForce4 Ti4800SE Graphics Card
  • NVIDIA Display Driver v43.45
  • NVIDIA nForce Unified Driver Package v2.03
  • DirectX 9.0a

Memory and core settings were validated with RivaTuner and were pre-set to the NVIDIA defaults of 275MHz core and 550MHz memory.

3DMark2001 SE

We used the older version of Futuremark‘s video benchmarking utility because 3DMark03 is more suited to the FX family of NVIDIA cards.





3DMark2001 SE
Benchmark (3DMarks)
Performance/Cost (3DMarks/$)
1024x768x32, noAA
MSI GeForce4 Ti4800SE-VTD8X 10,681 57
1024x768x32, 4xAA
MSI GeForce4 Ti4800SE-VTD8X 5,849 31

Performance is very good and comparable to the results Shane achieved with his review of Gainward’s Ti4800SE.

Unreal Tournament 2003

OpenGL performance was measured using Epic’s fragfest and the UT2K3Bench utility (v.1.4 ), standard benchmarks with maximum detail.







UT2K3
Benchmark (avg FPS)
Performance/Cost (FPS/$)
1024x768x32, noAA
dm-asbestos botmatch 53.23 .28
dm-asbestos flyby 161.28 .86
1024x768x32, 4xAA
dm-asbestos botmatch 49.32 .26
dm-asbestos flyby 90.35 .48

Again, performance is very good for the price and on par with recently tested Ti4800SE cards.

Overclocking

We used RivaTuner to overclock the card from its default settings to the core and memory values of a Ti4600 (300MHz core and 650MHz memory). Stability and image quality remained constant and we saw a nice performance increase in 3DMark2001 SE, particularly with FSAA enabled.





3DMark2001 SE
Benchmark (3DMarks)
Performance/Cost (3DMarks/$)
1024x768x32, noAA
MSI GeForce4 Ti4800SE-VTD8X 10,939 58
1024x768x32, 4xAA
MSI GeForce4 Ti4800SE-VTD8X 6,587 35

Conclusion


Naming quirks aside, the MSI Ti4800SE-VTD8X is a very good card with an excellent bundle. If you’re not ready to commit to a high-end Radeon or FX card, or just need a capable gaming card for a second PC, then the GeForce4 cards still offer great performance and stability at a reasonable price.

The inclusion of AGP 8X support is a moot point in the current state of game development. No one has demonstrated (or even claimed) that today’s applications benefit from the additional bandwidth. Down the road, who knows? It certainly doesn’t hurt to have it and it may be come in handy before you inevitably replace the card for something newer and faster.

The bundle supplied with the card ranges from the very useful (cables and adapters) to the silly (Foreign Language learning software with a video card?). The supplied games are refreshingly current and are even (mostly) quite good. All told, the MSI Ti4800SE-VTD8X represents an excellent performance and value solution.

Pros:.

  • Good performance for the price
  • Overclocks well
  • Attractive PCB and HSF
  • Excellent bundle and accessories

    Cons:

  • Foreign Language software doesn’t teach you to curse
  • Must install MSI drivers to get the overclocking utility

    We award the MSI Ti4800SE VTD8X a 9 out of 10 and the Golden Bear Award based on its core performance and features, the excellence of the bundle, and its ability to reliably overclock.

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