Summary: The AGP 8X interface finds its way to the GeForce4 Ti 4600 core in the MSI G4Ti 4600-VT2D8X. MSI and NVIDIA are marketing these cards as the Ti 4800 in most parts of the world. On top of the new core, MSI adds dual DVI connectors, its T.O.P. Tech Cooling system, video-in/out, and a great software bundle to the package. See how this card performs in today's review!
Since its release, the GeForce4 Ti 4200 has been selling really well for NVIDIA, its unique combination of price and performance allowed it to dominate the mainstream segment for most of 2002, making it one of NVIDIA’s most successful products last year. Therefore, it came as no surprise when the first cores based on NVIDIA’s second-generation GeForce4 core (codenamed NV28) were built utilizing the GeForce4 Ti 4200 GPU, now NVIDIA is bringing AGP 8X to the rest of the GeForce4 line.
We already know that the Ti 4200 variant of NV28 is officially known as the GeForce4 with AGP 8X. This board ships with a 128MB memory configuration officially clocked at 500MHz, although if you look a little closer you’ll see that the memory is actually operating at 513MHz on these boards in standard configurations. We’ve seen board manufacturers take cards based on this core to the next level, ASUS for example offers their V9280S. This is essentially an overclocked Ti 4200 (NV28) core built on a Ti 4600 board design and outfitted with high-speed BGA memory. But what about those manufacturers who want to include AGP 8X in their higher-end GeForce4 product mix that don’t wish to resort to overclocking? This is where the Ti 4800 series comes in.
Ti4800? You’re probably wondering where that name came from, and if this is some form of a performance-enhanced GeForce4 card. To answer the latter question, the Ti 4800 is nothing more than a GeForce4 Ti 4600 with AGP 8X support. This means it can take advantage of the 2.1GB/sec of bandwidth the interface provides, although as we’ve found out in the past, you won’t see any performance enhancements with the new interface in any of today’s latest games.
As far as the naming is concerned, things get a bit tricky. In the European and Asian markets, these Ti 4600 NV28 cores will be marketed under the Ti 4800 label, while here in North America they’ll be known as the Ti 4600 with AGP 8X. NVIDIA is also making a Ti 4400 variant of the NV28 core that is known as the Ti 4800-SE overseas, so you’ll have to keep an eye out so you do mistakenly pick up one of these cards if you really want the Ti 4600 board.
If you hit up the NVIDIA website, you see no mention of these cards at all. It’s as if they don’t officially exist. That’s because NVIDIA would rather focus their marketing efforts on GeForce FX, while still fulfilling NV28 shipments to its board partners. As a result, it has essentially become the role of these card manufacturers and the media to inform consumers about these products. You’ll need the latest Detonator 41.09 drivers to run this core, although in a mild bit of irony our MSI G4Ti4600-T2D8X card was detected as a GeForce Ti 4800 -- it looks like someone in NVIDIA’s driver department forgot to read the memo from marketing concerning the products’ official name.
SIDEBAR: MSI G4Ti4600-T2D8X Product Webpage
As you can see in the image above, the MSI G4Ti4600-T2D8X ships with dual DVI connectors. Two Silicon Image Sil 164 PanelLink transmitters are used to power the cards’ two DVI outputs. It is important to note the “T2D” in T2D8X, as MSI also ships a Ti 4600-8X card with a DVI/VGA connector configuration, the G4Ti4600-TD8X. Therefore, the “2” obviously is used to designate the dual DVI connectors the card boasts. This makes MSI one of two manufacturers with a dual DVI Ti 4600 product that we’re aware of.
T.O.P Tech Cooling
T.O.P. Tech Cooling is the moniker used to describe the awesome cooling unit that has been implemented on the G4Ti4600-T2D8X card. MSI starts the package off with two copper plates, one for cooling the graphics core and memory on the top of the card, and a second plate on the underside of the card for cooling the memory there. Copper is a better conductor of heat than aluminum, so by shifting from aluminum to copper, MSI has implemented a more effective solution.
To further increase performance, MSI uses one large plate to cool all the components on the top of the card, increasing the surface area of the heatsink. Essentially MSI is giving itself more room for T.O.P. Tech to work its magic, as heat is spread evenly throughout the copper plate. To further increase surface area, a folded copper sheet has been fused to the front of the copper plate. MSI then ducts the hot air off the components, and away from the graphics card. We’ve found that this solution works quite well at combating heat, but the real beauty of T.O.P. Tech is just how quietly it operates. Since the fan spins below 2,000 RPM, noise output is hardly noticeable, our Intel-supplied CPU fan was considerably louder than the G4Ti4600-T2D8X card. In fact, the G4Ti4600-T2D8X is the quietest GeForce4 Ti 4600 card we’ve ever tested.
Besides the dual DVI connectors, one other difference between the G4Ti4600-T2D8X and the G4Ti4600-TD8X is in the TV-out/Video-in connector. The G4Ti4600-T2D8X comes with a breakout box, the G4Ti4600-TD8X doesn’t. S-Video and composite connectors are provided, so you shouldn’t have any problems connecting your peripherals to the video card. For hooking the G4Ti4600-TD8X to your TV, MSI also includes a 1.8m S-Video cable.
In addition, MSI includes full retail versions of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, Duke Nukem Manhattan Project, WinDVD 5.1, WinProducer, WinCoder, and a 7-in-1 bundle of game demos including titles such as IL-2 Sturmovik, Oni, and Serious Sam 2.
SIDEBAR: T.O.P stands for Thermal Obviation Protection
Quake III: Arena version 1.17
Serious Sam 2 - OpenGL
Quake III - High Quality
Unreal Tournament 2003 - flyby
Unreal Tournament 2003 - botmatch
Quake III – High Quality
Quake III – High Quality
T.O.P. Tech Cooling: It wouldn’t be right if we didn’t start the Ballistics Report without mentioning MSI’s T.O.P. Tech cooling system first. This feature really makes this card what it is and sets it apart from every other GeForce4 Ti 4600 card available on the market. Not only does T.O.P. Tech keep temperatures in check, it’s also incredibly quiet, and does so without consuming an additional PCI slot.
RADEON 9500 PRO/9700 PRO: As we’ve just mentioned, GeForce4 Ti 4600 cards like the G4Ti 4600-VT2D8X are no longer the latest and greatest, so those of you who crave the most performance and/or features really should look into the RADEON 9500 PRO/9700 line if that’s what you really want. This is certainly not the fault of MSI, as our performance results showed that the G4Ti 4600-VT2D8X performs just as well as NVIDIA’s own Ti 4600 reference design.
In the quest to make PC graphics faster and faster, noise level is often overlooked. Sure, we all love to see the frames fly, but eventually it comes to a point where the cons (in this case, noise) outweigh the positives.
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