Features cont and Software
The GeForce2 MX chipset is a offshoot of the original GeForce2 GTS with some slight modifications. The GeForce2 MX is a value market version of the GeForce2 GTS much like the TNT2 M64 was the value market version of the TNT2 chipsets. The GeForce2 MX borrows some aspects of its setup from the GeForce2 and the GeForce 256. The GeForce2 MX uses the same 0.18 micro fabrication and shading processor as the Geforce2 GTS and has the same Textel per clock rate as the Geforce.
The GeForce2 MX GPU has a standard rated speed of 175MHz core clock and generates 700 million textels per second, this is quite a bit more then the GeForce 256 video card with a max of 480 million. Another unique feature to the MX is the Twinview system. Twinview works almost the same as Matrox's Dual Head system where you can run 2 monitors of the one graphics card. There are 3 modes to choose from;
1) Disabled: In this mode you run on 1 standard monitor
2) Continuous: In this mode you get 2x the desktop space.
3) Clone: In this mode what you see on one monitor is displayed onto the other.
We can see that the GeForce2 MX is no slouch. From the information we have seen about the GeForce2 MX so far we know that for a cheap graphics card it should be able to hold its own. The Starforce is built on the nVIDIA reference design so there is a lot of PCB wasted and drives up the cost of the card
The Starforce card comes with a expansion port (seen in the picture above) onboard which allows for adding MSI add-on modules such as a TV Out module, Digital Flat Panel Display Module and future modules. This is quite a nice feature if at the time you can't afford a DFP card or one with a TV Out module and you want to use one in the future you can buy the pure card and add a module on later on.
Although according to the NVIDIA reference specifications the GeForce2 MX doesn't require a heatsink (pictured above) but MSI has included one for better overclockability. In our tests, with the heatsink alone we got 200Mhz core and 200Mhz RAM. Pretty impressive considering the default values for the MSI Starforce are 175Mh core and 116Mhz RAM but I was not satisfied with the results. After going through my supplies I found an old 40mm 12V fan. I attached it to the heatsink, wired the fan into the 12v rail and was able to get an extra 20MHz on the core speed making a total of 220MHz core and 200Mhz RAM.
The Starforce uses Samsung 6ns Single Data Rate SDRAM (SDR-SDRAM) running the memory at 166MHz. The memory access is 128bit as opposed to the GeForce2 GTS, which has a 256bit access so this can hinder performance, also using SDR memory over DDR tends to slows down the speed of the card. According to nVIDIA, you can use 64bit DDR-SDRAM but very little practical gain would be accomplished by doing this and would raise the price of the card.
The MSI Starforce 816 doesn't come with any games to my disappointment but considering it's a value card that could be the reason, after all very little of the TNT2M64's came with games did they? MSI supply 2 CD's. One contains the drivers for Windows 98, NT, 2000. As well as the drivers, MSI also includes 3DTurbo. Similar in design to the Powerstrip program, 3DTurbo allows for overclocking of the RAM, core and various other functions such as enabling and disabling of the AGP 4x feature, enabling and disabling of the Sideband Addressing feature and various other tweaks that come in handy. 3DTurbo only works under the Windows 9x operating systems. Along with this, MSI also includes MSI DVD, a software DVD Player. MSI DVD is simply a redone version of Cyberlink Power DVD 2.55 with MSI Logo's, this is however not a bad thing as I have found Cyberlink Power DVD to be one of the best software DVD players out. Now, how does the card perform? Page 3 tells us this...