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VIDEO CARDS

nVidia GeForce2 MX Review
By: Jim Miller
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    2003-10-09

    Table of Contents:
  • nVidia GeForce2 MX Review
  • Conclusion

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    nVidia GeForce2 MX Review


    (Page 1 of 2 )

    What we have here, is FAILURE to communicate!! Don't know what the hell that has to do with a nVidia GeForce 2 MX card, but damn I love that line! That said, lemme get down to it.


    Reviewed: Aug 2000             

     

    INTRODUCTION:  

    What we have here, is FAILURE to communicate!! Don't know what the hell that has to do with a nVidia GeForce 2 MX  card, but damn I love that line!  That said, lemme get down to it.

    Here at OCAddiction we've looked at three flavors of the GeForce line so far and not been disappointed yet, but this is by FAR the cheapest card we've put through the paces.  The GeForce 2 MX board is targeted towards the "budget" minded gamers and the OEM market.  If you ask my ex-wife she'll tell ya that my computer was built on anything but a budget, yet this card still intrigued us enough to acquire one to check out.   So that's exactly what we're gonna do, right here in front of God and everyone.

                

    Let me get this disclaimer out of the way right now, the card we are benching is nVidia's reference board.  It was not designed for resale, but this IS the card that all of the one's that WERE designed for retail was based upon.  This card is the final version of the board, so the benchmarks you'll find here should be very comparable to the MX cards that are available in large quantities right now.

    The biggest question we want to answer today is whether or not this card is an acceptable low cost solution for the avid gamer.  Sure we want to save money, but if the damn thing drops frames while your about to lower the hammer with the rail gun while fraggin in Quake 3 it isn't worth a damn thing.

     

    FEATURES:  

    The card we have came with 32mb of 6ns Hyundai memory, while this is faster than some MX boards, its the same as or slower than others, but in general I would say this falls into the norm.  

    This particular card came with all the bells and whistles, S-video out, Digital flat panel out, and, well, that's it!  But realistically, what more do ya need?  And to be even MORE realistic, do ya even need that?  The majority of us that are gonna drop some green on a MX board are looking for a low cost graphics solution, so why the hell are we gonna pay an extra $20-$30 for features that we'll more than likely never use?  For that reason we are gonna pretty much leave the multiple outputs out of this review.  Besides, we don't have one of them there high fluting flat panel monitors anyways!!

    The biggest difference between the GeForce 2 GTS's and the MX is the memory.  While GTS boards come with the much faster DDR memory, nVidia chose to stay with the less expensive SDR memory for the MX.  I tend to agree with their call on this one, how much sense does it make to design a "budget" card and stap DDR memory on it so that you have to charge $200 for it?  None.  The impact of all of this is of course memory bandwidth.  The GTS cards have twice the pipe as the MX boards, hence the term DOUBLE data ram.  How much of an impact this has on performance we'll show ya in a bit with benchmarks.

    We'll take a quick look at how you can control this thing.  I don't wanna waste too much time with this as  every card nVidia has put out since the TNT uses the same damn thing so I'm sure this is nothing new to most of you.

    D3D Settings                  Open GL Settings

                     

     

    Coolbits Overclocking         TwinView Settings

                     

     

    The Twin View setting is where you choose the layout if you are using more than one monitor, so you multi-monitor freakz will dig that.  The rest is pretty standard, the ability to customize settings on a per platform basis (D3D and OpenGL) is a definite plus.  That can come in handy if you're into first person shooters AND flight sims.  

    As far as the overclocking utility, the drivers don't have one included, but downloading and using Coolbits program is as easy as pie.  My favorite feature is that you DO NOT have to restart your PC for the overclocking to take effect.  That may sound simple but after dealing with most 3dfx overclocking tools you learn not to take it for granted.

    Alright, enough drivel about features and whatnot, lets get to what I KNOW you're here for, and that's benchmarks!

     

    Ah, benchmarks...  Where the men are seperated by the boyz.  Atleast that's the principal, so let's take a look at the most popular benchmarking standards.  We're going to concertrate on 3dMark2000 by MadOnion.com  and Quake 3.  3dMark because anyone can download the benchmark and compare your scores to what we get here, and Quake 3 because damn near every gamer has it.  Let's get it on!

    TEST SYSTEM:

    Abit BE6II Motherboard

    Pentium 3 600e @ 810mhz

    128mb Corsair PC100 memory

    The Video Cards listed below

    CDRom, MX300 Sound card, and NIC.

     

     

    3DMark2000 Pro

    We see here pretty much what we expected, with Hardware T&L the MX beats out the Voodoo 5 5500, but it can't even get in the same ballpark as the GeForce2 GTS 64mb with it's 64mb of DDR ram.  Realizing that this is a synthetic benchmark we can't put TOO much credibility into it, but it is something to look at when comparing several cards.  If absolutely nothing else, 3dMark2000 is straight up gorgeous to watch run.

     

    Quake 3 Arena

    A few disclaimers I want to get out of the way before getting too involved here with some Q3 action.  If 100 people were to run these benches, you'd probably get 99 different results.  The reason for that is there are so many things one can change to affect the speed.  We got a whole buttload of mail after our Voodoo 5 5500 review telling us that our scores were too fast.  This is the bottom line, we posted the scores we achieved and thats that.  As we are about to do here, we ran all benchmarks three times and took the average for each.  Now if there is a more reliable way to reflect scores please let me know, if not, take these for what you will.

    The drivers we used for these benchmarks were the nVidia 6.18 drivers.  We found them to be very stable and pretty decent performers.  I realize the 6.26's just came out but we decided against redoing all of the benchmarks simply because the differences were minimal.  

    As far as the Quake 3 settings we used, we're gonna make this impossible for you to misunderstand, here is a screenshot of the EXACT setup we used:

     

    As far as the other settings we used the default for everything.  For example, High Quality 1024x768 is just that, we selected High Quality and only changed the resolution.

    There, that outta put to rest any doubt on this one.

     

    FASTEST: 

    Already we can see that the GeForce MX is performing a bit better than the $130 to the door a card like this will run ya.  The MX get's is ass kicked by the GeForce2 GTS but for an extra $200 I would hope so!  

    Fastest is nice to look at, but how many of us really play at 512x384?  That's what I thought, let's get on to the real tests....

     

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