Noise and power are normally two things that go together these days in the graphics card market. However, with what I have in my hand today, that could all change…
Founded in August 1986, MSI has continued to uphold a business philosophy that stresses “Award-winning product quality and outstanding customer service.” MSI specializes in the design and manufacture of motherboards, add-on cards, servers/workstations, barebones, optical storage devices, communication devices and IA accessories. Overcoming a challenging industry environment, MSI have raced to the head of the pack and are now ranked among Taiwan ‘s Top 3 and the World’s Top 5 motherboard manufacturer. Besides, our VGA production has been on the No. 1 position in the world for four consecutive years.
Full Microsoft® Direct® 9.0 Shader Model 3.0 Support
The standard for today’s Purchase and next-generation consoles enables stunning and complex efects for cinematic realism. NVIDIA® GPUs offer the most complete implementation of the Shader Model 3.0 feature set — including vertex texture fetch (VTF) — to ensure top-notch compatibility and performance for all DirectX9 applications.
Ture High Dynamic-Range (HDR) Rendering Support
The ultimate lighting effects bring environments to life for a truly immersive, ultrareailstic experience. Based on the OpenEXR technology from Industrial Light and Magic, NVIDIA’s 64-bit texture implementation delivers state-of-the-art high dynamic-range (HDR) visual effects through floating point capabilities in shading, filtering, texturing, and blending.
NVIDIA® CineFX® 4.0 Engine
Delivers advanced visual effects at unimaginable speeds. Full support for Microsoft® DirectX® 9.0 Shader Model 3.0 enables stunning and complex special effects. Next-generation shader architecture with new texture unit design streamlines texture processing for faster and smoother gameplay.
NVIDIA® SLI™ Technology
Delivers up to 2x the performance of a single GPU speeds. Full support for Microsoft® DirectX® 9.0 Shader Model 3.0 enables stunning and complex special effects. Next-generation shader architecture with new texture unit design streamlines texture processing for faster and smoother gameplay.
NVIDIA® PureVideo Technology
The combination of high-definition video processors and decoder software delivers unprecedented picture clarity, smooth video, accurate color, and precise image scaling for all video content to turn your PC into a high-end home theater.
Adaptable Programmable Video Processor
PureVideo’s programmable technology adapts to new video encoding formats as they are developed to provide a future-proof video solution.
High-Definition H.264, MPEG-2 and WMV Hardware Acceleration
Smoothly playback H.264, MPEG-2, and W MV video including WMV HD with minimal CPU usage so the PC is free to do other work.
Advanced Spatial Temporal De-Interlacing
Smoothes video and DVD playback on progressive displays to deliver a crisp, clear picture that rivals high-end home theater systems.
High-quality scaling technology delivers a clear, clean image at any window size, including full-screen HDTV resolutions up to 1080p.
Video Color Correction
Corrects differences in color characteristics of RGB monitors and TV monitors through NVIDIA PureVideo’s ProcAmp Color Controls setting, such as PureVideo s ProcAmp Color Controls setting, such as ensures videos are not too dark, overly bright, or washed out regardless of the video format or display.
Integrated HDTV Encoder
Provides analog TV-output (Component/Composite/S-Video) up to 1080i resolution.
128-Bit Memory Interface
Delivers more memory bandwidth and efficiency to power the latest games and applications at blazing speeds.
NVIDIA® UltraShadow™ II Technology
Enhances the performance of bleeding-edge games, like id Software’s DOOM 3, that feature complex scenes with multiple light sources and objects.
Full-Speed 32-Bit Color Precision
Delivers increased image quality with no performance compromise.
NVIDIA® ForceWare® Technology
Delivers a proven record of compatibility, reliability, and stability with the widest range of games and applications. ForceWare ensures the best out-of-box experience for every user and delivers continuous performance and feature updates over the life of NVIDIA GeForce GPUs.
• 128-bit memory interface
• OpenGL 2.0 Optimizations and Support
• NVIDIA® nView® Multi-Display Technology
• NVIDIA® Digital Vibrance Control® 3.0 Technology
• Dual 400MHz RAMDACs
• Dual Dual-Link DVI Support
• 90nm Process Technology
• Built for Microsoft® Windows™ Vista
The Passive 7600GT
The box that the 7600GT came in was pretty battered and torn (obviously our couriers hate us), so excuse the lack of pictures of it. Inside the box was the 7600GT itself, a copy of the PC game GT Legends, an S-Video cable, and a multi output cable which slots into the back of the GFX card providing S-Video and phono outputs. There was also a driver CD, manuals, a copy of StarDVD player and a couple of DVI to VGA adapters. All in all it’s a pretty good bundle.
The front of the card has a small steel/aluminum pressed MSI logo piece that covers the copper heatsink beneath. Poking out the top of this are two heatpipes that bend over to the rear of the card where a larger heatsink is sited. Due to the immense amount of copper present on the card, this baby is pretty weighty. Also, as there is a large heatsink on the rear of the card, this 7600GT will occupy two PCI slot, even though it only needs one PCI-e lane.
Like most new graphics cards the PCB is red, and seems to suit the heatsink that is wrapped around it.
At the back of the card there are the usual dual DVI sockets, and another port which connects to the multi plug that MSI provide in the box. The DVI slots can be easily converted to the older VGA standard with the provided adaptors.
The board has the option of the usual fan socket standard, meaning that you could change the heatsink for an active one to get a better overclock. However, that would obviously void the cards silent trait, which is its best selling point.
The card is SLI, and there is the usual notch at the top of the card allowing you to connect two of these cards together to increase your gaming performance (frames per second, not skill unfortunately).In SLI I would imagine that the cards would get a lot hotter than with just one, as there would be less airflow between the cards.
As with any graphics card, installation was far from difficult. Simply slot it in and you are ready to go. The card doesn’t require an external PCI-e power connector which is nice to see, but also really useful for anyone making a HTPC which aren’t normally housing a high wattage power supply.
Once the latest nVidia ForceWare drivers (93.71) were installed, I was ready to go. Below are the results from all the testing. Each test was run three times and the score averaged. If any of the three tests were wildly different from the previous ones, the results were scrapped and all three tests repeated.
The rig I was using to test with was the following:
AMD AM2 3800+ (running at stock speed)
Asus MSN-E motherboard
1GB OCZ (at stock PC6400 speeds)
Enermax Liberty 400w PSU
The MSI 7600GT was pitted against the 6600GT by Leadtek. With a whole extra 1000 in its name, the 7600GT should hand some ass.
For this card, we will use our new testing procedure that involves an XSR recorded demo walkthrough of Battlefield 2142. This should give you an idea of how well the latest graphics cards will play recent games. We also run all the 3Dmarks, the FEAR graphics test, X3 Reunion and Half Life 2: Lost Coast demo.
The Battlefield 2142 benchmark is run once, unrecorded, as the framerates drop too low (due to the textures being loaded into the RAM). Once the benchmark has run through once, it is restarted and recorded using FRAPS. The test runs for 148 seconds, and FRAPS is timed to stop after this time to get repeatable results.
The card was tested against a Leadtek Winfast 6600GT 128mb DDR3 in the same testing system to produce a comparison.
Click the graph to get individual data
The 3Dmarks show that the earlier renditions were obviously more CPU/RAM related than GPU. Only until ’06 do we really see the 7600GT’s full potential, managing almost twice the 6600’s attempt.
Below is a percentage graph showing how much better the 7600GT is than the older 6600.
As you can see, the 7600GT is nearly twice as good as the 6600 in most tests. The most important statistic is the Battlefield 2142 result. With a gain of over 80%, this card is a solid choice.
Noise wise, the 7600GT wins hands down. The passively cooled card produces absolutely no noise, and would be perfect for anyone building a quiet PC. The 7600GT is capable of producing playable framerates (50+)on Battlefield 2142 at the highest quality with 4x anti-aliasing @ 1280×1024. Both Half Life 2: Lost Coast and FEAR also run with more than acceptable results.
Using nVidia Coolbits, I used the ‘Find Optimal Settings’ to get a rough idea of how well this card overclocks. From the stock 1400mhz mem and 560mhz core, Coolbits decided 1500mhz (7.14% gain) and 610mhz (8.93% gain) were safe clocks. To test these new clocks, I had a quick run through of 3Dmark06. Note: to make sure that the card didn’t overheat I placed a fan on top of the heatsink and used the Jetart Storm to cool the bottom and the side.
I managed to get an extra 290 points on 3Dmark06 which equates to 6.51% gain over the standard clocks. On Battlefield, the overclock got an 4 fps or 6.45% gain.
I’m sure that the card could achieve slightly higher clocks than the nVidia ‘optimal’ settings with a little effort, however this is a nice example of the potential this card holds.
The 7600GT isn’t the fastest graphics card on the market, but it is definitely the quietest. It manages to run the latest games at good frame rates, and it has a little room for future gaming. This card retails for £130, which is £30 more than the actively cooled version. The completely silent design is welcome, but its full potential is only seen with an already quiet PC.
With the introduction of Direct X 10, the 7600GT lifespan is limited, but if you are looking for an inexpensive, silent graphics card for this generation; the MSI 7600GT 256mb DDR3 is perfect.
|Solid results||Limited lifespan (DX10)|