VGA Card Buyer's Guide 07/2003


MSI is among the largest Taiwan-based companies. In addition to producing video cards based on NVIDIA's graphics chips, MSI's product line also includes motherboards as well as a number of other products, like barebones systems and servers. Tech support is available either via email or through the Live Update utility.

The "R"-series of products is especially noteworthy. It features an infra-red remote control, with which users can control MSI's own media center software. Additionally, these products come with an especially extensive software bundle.

MSI FX5200-VTD128

The MSI FX5200-VTD128 is based on NVIDIA's GeForceFX 5200 (NV34). It features 128 MB of 128 bit DDR memory with an access time of 4 ns. The clock speeds are set to 250/400 MHz (core/mem), as specified by NVIDIA's reference design. To make BIOS updates a safer procedure, MSI has fitted the card with two BIOS chips (TwinBios). A jumper on the front of the card is used to select the active BIOS.

The card is cooled by a copper-colored heatsink with a pleasantly quiet fan (43 dB). This fan produces a whistling sound, though, making it seem louder than it really is. Hardware monitoring functionality is handled by a Winbond chip (W83L785R) and covers fan speed, temperatures and voltages. On the software side of things, MSI's rather playfully designed monitoring tool, 3D! Turbo Experience, displays the information to the user. The tool runs in a browser window as a Shockwave Flash application and also offers overclocking options.