For those on a budget, gaming doesn't have to be slow. The Titan II MX400 SE is one of the newest offerings from OCZ. Come join Mike as he takes a look at what you can do with a mid-level card if you try hard enough.
IntroductionFor those who are not familiar with the folks at OCZ, they are a company that takes mid to high-end computer components and makes them run faster. They also do a lot of hand picking of components to make sure that they get nothing but the best possible items for you. They are dedicated to those who want to overclock their systems, as well as those who are just wanting some of the most stable components available. They also have a reputation of keeping the prices of these items in a very reasonable range.Now that we have an idea as to what we're dealing with here, it's time to take a look at one of their most recent offerings; namely the OCZ Titan II MX400 SE Video Card. In a nutshell, it's a card that runs on the GeForce2 MX400 chipset, has 5ns memory installed, and just to make sure that things stay cool, a Thermaltake Blue Orb cooler was added to the mix as well.So now that we have your curiosity piqued, let's take a look at what this thing can really do...
Titan II MX400 -
The GeForce2 MX cards were originally designed for those who wanted to have the general performance characteristics of a GeForce2 card, but didn't have the money to put out for it. The (then) high-speed GeForce2 cards were retailing at about US$300, and a lot of folks just couldn't afford that kind of upgrade. So there was born a new breed of chipset for your 3D gaming desires...the GeForce2 MX. It allowed for you to get the benefits of the GeForce2 technology, but limited the memory to a slower variety, which managed to keep the price of these cards down enough to sell to those who were on a budget. The MX400 chipset is the next evolution of the MX family. It still allows for the card to remain reasonably priced, but makes the overall performance a bit faster than the older chipsets.As I hinted to in the intro, OCZ has a hard time leaving well enough alone (thank goodness), so they went out and hand-picked some MX400 based cards that were running the 5ns memory. They tossed on a Blue Orb (with a generous coating of a silver TIM), and then clocked it to stock speed settings of 200MHz core and 200MHz memory. For those who have kept up with the newer technologies, you'll recognize the fact that the 200MHz core frequency is the same that is set on today's GeForce3 cards!This particular card is pretty standard fare as far as features go. It doesn't have the dual monitor support or a TV Tuner, but we're here for gaming, and the small stuff doesn't really matter anyway. What it DOES offer is a factory speed set at well above industry standards, and some well thought-out cooling for those all night fragfests. Features like these will go a long way for those who are looking for the most Bang for the Buck.Another nice idea was the addition of a 3-pin to 4-pin converter for the fan. Though the cabling of the fan was easily long enough to reach one of my spare fan headers on the motherboard, not everyone has these spare connectors. This will allow you to just hook up to a standard Molex connector from the PSU if you don't have one, or if the reach is too long for some reason. And you WILL have to hook the fan up to your system in some way other than directly to the video card. Since the MX chipsets weren't designed to run this fast (or hot), there is no connection on the card itself.
Titan II MX400 -
TestingI used a pretty standard set of benchmarking tools so that we would all be able to tell just how well this card can perform. They consisted of 3dMark2000, 3dMark2001, and the faithful Quake III Timedemo test using Demo001. These are all staples and should let us know if this particular card can do better than the average MX cards on the market.Both 3dMark programs were run at default settings and the full battery of tests were run.Quake III Arena was run with all the eye candy enabled, and the following settings within the game:- GL Extensions: ON- Full Screen: ON- Lighting: LIGHTMAP- Geometric Detail: HIGH- Texture Detail: Max setting on slider bar- Texture Quality: 32 BIT- Texture Filter: TRILINEAR- Test SystemAMD Thunderbird 1000 @ 1333MHz (AVIA)256MB Crucial PC133 SDRAMWestern Digital 20GB ATA-66 HDD @ 7200 RPMSoundBlaster Live Audio CardWin98SE (Fresh Install w/ no system tweaks)nVidia 14.70 Detonator DriversDirectX 8.0a- Results - 3dMark2000
3dMark2000 ran very smoothly using the OCZ card. Results like these are why the MX series cards are such a good seller. All tests resulted in a very playable rate of speed.- Results - 3dMark2001
While testing in 3dMark2001, I had a lot of visual artifacts appearing on the screen. Even when turning the speed down a bit to more normal levels, I was getting some distortion and such. It looks like the MX400 chipset is the limiting factor here. Since this particular test was really designed for high-end video boards, just the fact that it was able to complete the testing seemed to indicate that the card is a fighter at heart.- Results - Quake III Arena (FPS)
While I don't have any personal results of a MX400 card to reflect against, I did a lot of searching on the internet to find results from systems that were a close match to my own and started averaging the results found. While it may not be the most scientific way to conduct a comparison, it did allow me to get results from a number of different sources and compare them to my findings during the course of these tests. All results from the OCZ card were 8-10 FPS faster than other cards. If you don't think that this seems like much, then try getting another 10 FPS from your current card on a consistent basis. And with no tweaks done to the system (fresh install of Win98SE remember), it's an even more impressive feat.Something else that bears mentioning here is the usefulness of the Blue Orb. Running back-to-back tests like this can really tax the video card (as well as the rest of the system). I ran all ten timedemos one after the other. Just for fun, I tested my Creative GeForce2 GTS card the same way and only made it through six tests before it refused to load the next resolution. The card got hot and I had to let it rest a bit before continuing. Active cooling can go a long way to not only getting higher clocks from your card, but also in maintaining stability when you stress out the system.
Titan II MX400 -
ConclusionAfter reviewing my first GeForce2MX based card, I can say that it managed to do a lot better than I thought it would. I've been using a GTS based card for well over a year now, and just never thought that any of the Budget cards would be able to handle the stresses of 3D Gaming. I'm happy to say that I'm mistaken in that area. The OCZ Titan II MX card was able to handle gaming quite well, and even when I tested it at 1600 x 1200 resolution at 32-bit color depth, it still managed to chug right along. Not bad for a card that's going in at just under US$90.While I was a bit startled at the amount of artifacts appearing in the 3dMark2001 benchmark, I realized that though the MX chipset is a pretty solid player, it does have its limitations...and that program managed to max out its ability to function.The cooling was also a nice touch, as was the added converter. Any time that you can fight off heat, you're going to end up a winner in the long run. It's nice to see that a company that deals with overclockers actually uses a bit of common sense and makes a product that has us in mind.Bottom line...If you're in the market for a dependable video card but don't have much money to spend, then take a serious look at this one. It's a good performer, reasonably priced, and comes overclocked right from the store. That's a WIN-WIN-WIN situation if you ask me.- ProsAlready overclockedCheapActive coolingPlenty of TIM appliedFast for an MX card- ConsNoneRating - 9/10
PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.
United States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com
United Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.co.uk
Australia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com.au
Canada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.ca
Deutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de
We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.