Let's be frank, ATi and nVIDIA videocards of the same
generation are pretty much evenly matched, but when it comes to extra features.... nVIDIA gets top honours. The high performance and popularity of the nForce chipsets and the ability to run dual videocards in SLI have given nVidia a big leg up over ATi and its offerings like Crossfire (which has yet to show its face in the PCSTATS labs).
Advances in videocard technology come like there's no tomorrow, and any GPU that lasts more than eight months is almost unheard of. The GeForce 6600GT has, and was able to reach this feat due to attractive value and performance qualities. In fact from the time the GeForce 6600GT was first introduced, no less than three generations of high end nVIDIA GPUs have passed by.
The GeForce 6600GT is a great GPU, but its age is
starting to show. Hence, the new nVidia GeForce 7600GT is hitting
the streets. The GeForce 7600GT GPU holds a lot of promise but it also
has a lot to prove considering how successful its predecessor was. Will nVIDIA have another blockbuster here, or will the GeForce 7600GT fizzle and burn out? These are the questions we're wondering, and it will take more than one review to fully answer either of them.
At first glance the MSI Computer
NX7600GT-VT2D256E PCI Express videocard is pretty impressive compared to GeForce 6600GT
class models. The frame buffer has been increased to 256MB over the original GeForce
6600GT spec of 128MB. While nVIDIA did also release a 256MB version
of the 6600GT, this time around the videocard can take advantage of the memory.
The MSI NX7600GT-VT2D256E videocard also supports two dual link DVI output connectors
as well as a whole host of TV output options; everything from component output to traditional S-Video is rolled in.
The Geforce 7600GT series is SLI compatible (note the SLI bridge
connector on the top of the videocard), so if you have two
and a compatible motherboard you can double up your graphics processing for a little extra speed in the games.
Quick Installation Guide, Quick User's
Guide, WEEE Statement Sheet, Driver CD, Star DVD Family CD,
Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones CD, S-Video to S-Video
cable, Component/VIVO Cable, 2x DVI to analog
In typical MSI fashion, the NX7600GT-VT2D256E videocard
comes bundled with all the necessary cables and DVI/Analog adapters you'll
need to take advantage of it. Not bad for a videocard with a retail price of
$206 CDN ($186 US, £100GBP), and you get a couple game
Like most modern PCI Express videocards, the MSI
NX7600GT-VT2D256E's Geforce 7600GT core is built on the 90
nanometer manufacturing process. The GeForce 7600GT generates a moderate amount of heat, but rather than
slap on a big thermal solution that sounds like a vacuum cleaner MSI
have opted for a large dual slot heatsink which operates quietly. We'll talk a little more about
the heatsink in just a bit, but first let's take a look at that nVidia GeForce
As mentioned earlier, the GeForce 7600GT core
is built on TSMC's 90 nanometer manufacturing process and the die has an area of
125mm's square. The pixel rendering pipeline in the 7600GT has been increased to
12, up from 8 on the 6600GT. The Vertex rendering pipeline has also been
increased from 4 to 5. The core clock speed jumps to 560 MHz but it's the memory
which greatly increases in speed and runs at 1400 MHz! The memory controller
width stays the same at 128 bits.
by the specs, the GeForce 7600GT should significantly outperform the older GeForce 6600GT
and even possibly GeForce 6800 series videocards as well!
Oh and did I mention that the GeForce 7600GT is SLI capable? ;-) Yes that's
right you can potentially you can get GeForce 7900GTX style performance while
saving a couple of hundred dollars!
Note that GeForce 7600 series videocards do not require
any extra power inputs, and the cards natively support all types of TV
output features such as; S-Video, composite and component output. This is
accomplished via the Philips SAA711SHL chipset on the back
of the videocard, and integrated VIVO cables to keep things nice and tidy at
the rear of the PC.
Thermal Solution for the NX7600GT
The MSI NX7600GT-VT2D256E videocard uses a custom designed red
PCB which is slightly larger than the reference card nVidia produced. MSI choose
to use equip the videocard with a dual slot silent aluminum heatsink, and while it
still employs a fan it remains very quiet even under heavy load.
The heatsink bolts onto the videocard with four screws which surround the
GeForce 7600GT core. The GDDR3 memory modules are also cooled by the heatsink,
and a heatpipe is used to transfer heat from just above the GPU
towards the rear where the long aluminum cooling fins extend . Everything
is enclosed in an plastic fan duct to ensure that airflow moves over all the
vital components of the thermal solution. Vents in the second PCI slot bracket
allow the videocard to pump the hot air out of the case.
The MSI software package that comes with
the NX7600GT-VT2D256E videocard is pretty good, but not especially
exciting. The videocard comes with a full Cyberlink DVD multimedia software
suite and a full version of the game Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones.
It's a modern game, but a couple other titles could have also been
packed in to give it some real panache.
the agenda PCSTATS dives head first into overclocking!