Installation and Feature Examination

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Installation was a simple procedure and yielded no problems. On both Windows XP Pro and Windows 2000, I had no issues installing drivers from either the bundled CD or from reference drivers from NVIDIA’s website.

The FX control panel.
The MSI FX5600-VTDR128 control panel.

However, I strongly suggest you cleanly uninstall your previous drivers prior to installing this video card (this includes a good registry cleaning). I accidentally had an old driver installed prior to installing the FX5600-VTDR128 and got really dismal 3DMark 2001SE scores. Once I properly un-installed my software and cleaned my registry and installed the drivers again, the 3DMark score jumped 2000 pts.

2D Image Quality
The 2D Image quality of the MSI FX5600-VTDR128 is very good. After spending a few days working with it doing everyday activities (word processing, web surfing, chatting, and game playing), I found it very capable for what I needed it for. However, there were some minor “characteristics” you should be aware of.

NVIDIA's Dawn.
NVIDIA’s Dawn mascot — ghosted when using the DVI connector.

When I connected my Dell D1226H 19″ monitor to the DVI connector using the VGA-DVI adapter, I immediately noticed some ghosting on my desktop. There were slight dark halos around my icons against my plain blue background. In MS Word, black font on white background also showed this, and even the cursor had a slight darker halo around it. But when I connect to the CRT connector, the problem goes away. I double-checked this with my better monitor, a Nokia 19″ 446xt using a Trinitron tube, and noticed that the ghosting effect was still there, but not as pronounced. I even swapped around 3 different VGA-DVI adapters and checked the installation of the card to rule out any variables.

Before you go screaming “But it could be the VGA-DVI adapters!”, rest assured that the adapters are perfectly fine. Using the same adapters on the MSI Ti4800SE and an ATI Radeon 9500, the images on both monitors are perfectly crisp with no ghosting or blurring.

As a side note, the ghosting you see here is similar to the effect caused by old Voodoo card or cheap KVM switches.

DVD Playback and Video Output
In DVD playback, I noticed that the images were really dark. In a particular scene in Final Fantasy: Spirits Within, I was amused that there were people sitting in the background in a darkened conference room, but couldn’t see them because of the video card’s default settings. After playing around with the video overlay controls in the Display Properties, I was able to get it looking better and not as dark. However, because I adjusted my driver’s brightness and contrast, the images began to look a little flat. I’m sure with some time you will be able to find a good combination. For those who are looking to run with this card, be prepared to do a little tinkering in this department.

Video output from the video card was a similar story. The images looked a bit dark and required some adjusting using the control panel. The image quality was very good otherwise. It would do nicely in home entertainment/multimedia PCs in your living room.

Once again, I have the pleasure of playing around with some dual-monitor support using the nView feature. This feature is invaluable for those people who have busy desktops, or for those professionals making presentations (one display faces presenter, while one display faces audience or connected to an overhead display). Now if only more games take true advantage of dual displays.

nView transparency feature.
The nView transparency feature.

There are a lot of different features in the nView advanced settings like transparencies, effects and such. I found most of these features to be unnecessary since the main functionality of clone and spanning desktops is already so useful.

For additional remarks on the nView feature, please see the MSI Ti4800SE-VTD8X review.

Hardware Monitoring

We were pleased that hardware monitoring worked as specified on the FX5600-VTDR128. After installing the 3D Turbo Experience program, I launched it and it showed my card’s temperature along with the fan’s RPM and voltages.

MSI's 3D Experience tool.
MSI’s 3D Experience tool for hardware monitoring and overclocking.

However one issue I did notice was that the utility incorrectly reports the Core and Memory frequencies. As you can see in the above image, it shows 100MHz Core and 54MHz memory. I checked MSI’s website and downloading an update for the utility. Once patched, the frequencies were properly reported. So if you are planning on using this tool, be sure to download the update patch from MSI’s website.

Also as a tip to those users who are annoyed by the long and noisy introduction and ending movies, you can remove them by either re-naming or deleting the files “start_movie.swf” and “end_movie.swf” in your 3D Turbo Experience installation folder. You tool will boot up faster and close quicker. 😉

For additional remarks on the hardware monitoring tool, please see the MSI Ti4800SE-VTD8X review.

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