Installation and Feature Evaluation

This content was originally featured on Amdmb.com and has been converted to PC Perspective’s website. Some color changes and flaws may appear.

Installation

Hardware setup is pretty straight-forward. Either by following the instructions outlined in the manual or by going by experience, the whole process should only take a few minutes. If you are replacing an existing AGP videocard, be sure to properly uninstall it first before proceeding otherwise you will likely experience problems. For tips on properly installing and uninstalling video hardware, please see our videocard FAQ here or visit our videocard forum.

For those who are interested, the drivers included on the CD are MSI driver 4.28.20.21.00 (Detonator 6.13.10.4107) and NVIDIA WDM driver v1.21. There are more recent drivers available on MSI’s website.

Hardware Monitor

One of the features of this video is the ability to monitor the RPM of the videocard’s fan and the temperature of the GPU. This is accomplished through installing and running MSI’s 3D Turbo Experience software (evaluated later in this article).

MSI's hardware monitoring utility.
MSI’s hardware monitoring software.

The version of 3D Turbo Experience included with the package did not seem to be able to report the temperature or RPM of the videocard at all. So I decided to upgrade my software to v2.13 and upgrade my MSI drivers to the latest v43.45. This did not fix the problem. I checked the MSI forums and it seems that others are experiencing the same problem with this product. The moderator there assured me that MSI is aware of the issue and is currently fixing it. However, as it stands currently the hardware monitor, which is a major feature, is broken.

nView

Installing and setting up nView is relatively easy. All it requires is a second monitor to be connected to the free DVI or VGA connector on the card and the displays are configured through the desktop’s Display Properties. The second display is automatically detected by the control panel and you can choose one of three ways to configure the desktop: clone, horizontal and vertical span. There are plenty of controls to tweak nView such as how to treat dialog boxes, the windows taskbar, and zoom options.

The nView properties control panel.
The nView properties control panel.

Clone view is very useful in a business application where you are making a presentation. One monitor can face you so you can control your slides/computer while the second display is facing your audience. The second display can even be a projector. Say goodbye to “Presentation Neck Strain”.

Horizontal spantreats the combined resoltion of both monitors as a single wide desktop, whereas vertical span treats both displays as one tall desktop. This display option is perfect for those users who have a busy desktop. Software developers can have their IDE in one display and have their terminal/run-time in another. CAD/CAM operators can display top-left-front viewports on the left and have the render viewport on the right. Web addicts can have their browser in one, and WinAmp and their IRC client in the other. There are lots of uses.

The only limitation I found with this is that both displays need to be at the same resolution. This is a problem in particular cases where one monitor has greater resolution than the other (i.e. a 21″ monitor with a 17″). In this case you either need to adjust the resolution for both displays or get monitors that match.

Video Out

For video-out testing, I am doing some game playing (Unreal Tournament 2003), and a bit of DVD playback (Lord of the Rings).

Setting up for TV-out is fairly simple as it is identical to configuring nView for another monitor but this time your 2nd display is a TV. Like a second display, the control panel automatically detects the attached TV through the Video Out cable. In my case, I used a RCA style video cable as I do not have any device with S-Video inputs.

My first task is to load up Unreal Tournament 2003 and do a few rounds on my 28″ TV. My first impression of this was that distinct feeling you get from playing a console system. It’s a unique experience that is hard to explain. I only wished I had a control pad to better replicate the feeling. Image quality was decent, though looked a bit saturated. This can be easily fixed by adjusting either your color balance on your desktop or fixing your in-game gamma levels.

Gaming on the big screen.
Playing Unreal Tournament 2003 @ 1024x768x32bits on a 28″ TV.

Next was DVD output. I loaded the bundled PowerDVD software and changed the display properties to show videos at full screen. Put in Lord of the Rings and off I went. Unlike the washed-out colors initially seen playing Unreal Tournament 2003, the video looked rich and deep as you would expect from a DVD movie. I was impressed with the output and I even think it has better image quality than my Bodysonic DVD player.

DVD playback on the TV.
DVD playback on the TV.

Video-In

For video-in testing, I am using a Samsung SC-D75 MiniDV digital camcorder and footage shot using SP quality (highest available). For a S-Video/DV comparison, the camera will be connected to the computer via S-Video to the videocard’s dongle, and via Firewire using a D-Link DFW-500 IEEE1394 interface card. Footage is digitized using Adobe Premiere 6.5 using zero-compression to ensure high fidelity.

Footage digitized using S-Video.
Detail of footage digitized with S-Video.

Footage digitized using Firewire.
The same footage digitized with Firewire.

As you can tell by both these images, the quality of the S-Video is remarkably similar to that taken with Firewire. In fact, some parts of the S-Video image look better than that seen on Firewire. Another difference I see between the videos was the quality of the sky. The sky appears to look deeper in the Firewire footage than the sky taken using S-Video. However, for all intents and purposes, the video digitized using the Ti4800SE-VTD8X’s S-Video input is practically identical to that taken using Firewire (at least for the footage and hardware I am using). Unless you’re looking for real professional quality, the video capabilities of this card are more than sufficient.

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