Friday, June 1, 2007

MSI GeForce 8500 GT

The main difference between GeForce 8 and GeForce 7 families is the adoption of DirectX 10 on GeForce 8 family. What this means is that they will support the next generation of games to be released starting this year. It also means that instead of using separated shader units for each kind of shader processing (pixel, vertex, physics and geometry) video cards from this family use a unified shader architecture, where the shader engines can process any one of these tasks.

So far AMD has announced their ATI Radeon HD 2000 family – which also supports DirectX 10 and uses unified shader architecture –, however mid-range products will be only available in late June, i.e. one month from now. This leaves mid-range cards from GeForce 8 family like GeForce 8500 GT without real direct competitors.

We can find this model from MSI costing around USD 100, so at this price range we have ATI Radeon X1300 XT competing with GeForce 8500 GT.

GeForce 8500 GT runs at 450 MHz and accesses its 256 MB DDR2 memory at 800 MHz (400 MHz transferring two data per clock cycle) thru a 128-bit interface, so it can access its memory at a maximum transfer rate of 12.8 GB/s.

It has only 16 shader processors running at 900 MHz (GeForce 8600 GT and GTS has 32 shader processors).

  • Graphics chip: GeForce 8500 GT, running at 450 MHz.
  • Memory: 256 MB DDR2 memory (2.5 ns, 128-bit interface) from Hynix (HY5PS561621AFP-25), running at 800 MHz (400 MHz DDR).
  • Bus type: PCI Express x16.
  • Connectors: One DVI, one VGA and one S-Video output supporting component video.
  • Video Capture (VIVO): No.
  • Number of CDs/DVDs that come with this board: Two.
  • Games that come with this board: Toca Race Driver 3 (full).
  • Programs that come with this board: None.
  • Even though this competitor from AMD/ATI does not feature a Shader 4.0 unified engine – i.e. not supporting DirectX 10 – in our benchmark it achieved better results than the reviewed video card. It is important to notice that the Radeon X1300 XT model we compared GeForce 8500 GT to featured GDDR3 memories running at 1 GHz, and there are on the market models with DDR2 memories running at 800 MHz.

    Radeon X1300 XT was between 4.27% and 9.98% faster on 3DMark03 with no image quality settings enabled, but when we enabled anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering, these two video cards achieved a similar performance at 1600x1200, with GeForce 8500 GT being 5.82% faster than Radeon X1300 XT at 1024x768.

    For the kind of user this video card is targeted – someone willing to spend only around USD 100 on a video card – we think Radeon X1300 XT with GDDR3 memories is a better buy.

    Also, if you have USD 20 more to spend, we highly recommend the Radeon X1650 Pro video card: spending only 20% more you get up to 79% more in performance. That is definitely the kind of deal we are looking for!