Franco on May 24, 2002
MX440 or all
GeForce4 MX GPU is probably one of the most controversial
chips NVIDIA has released so far, while its name clearly
indicates that forms part of NVIDIA’s next-generation GPU
line, in reality MX chips only share part of the complete
feature set of GeForce4 Titanium chips, hence the
considerably lower price tag.
Visiontek, a name brand we have all come
to know, has been distributing their MX videocards for quite
some time now. This time we are putting their GeForce4 MX440
videocard to the test. While both of the more mainstream
MX460 and Ti4200 products have been just recently released
to the stores, there is still going on a fierce competition
between the MX440 and the older (and soon to become
unavailable) GeForce3 Ti200.
After a quick comparison between GF4
Titanium and MX chips, we noticed the most important feature
missing on the MX is what NVIDIA likes to call the
“nfiniteFX II” engine. Originally introduced on GeForce3
chips, the pixel and vertex shaders that compose this
on-hardware feature were designed for games and other
graphics-intensive applications so that developers could
specify personalized combinations of graphics operations to
create their own custom effects instead of choosing from the
same hard-coded palette of effects and ending up with a
generic look and feel.
Obviously the GeForce4 MX is lacking
these features, making its architecture inferior to the
older GeForce 3 chip. Of course, we all know that, however
think about a regular guy looking for low priced gaming
card, what do you think he will choose?
NVIDIA’s naming has gone a little
tricky this time, however like Thomas pointed out on his eVGA
MX440 review a couple of weeks ago, what could have they
named it? GeForce2 MX 2? Don’t think so…
Looking at the other side of the coin we
have that the GeForce4 MX is big step forward from the older
GeForce2 MX chip. I’d expect to see GF4 MX boards
retailing for very little money in a couple of months
(currently being sold for ~$100); until a few months the
best thing we could get for that kind of money would be a
vanilla Radeon, a Kyro or an old GeForce2. See? It’s not
really that bad.
If you ask me, I would say manufacturers
are the ones to blame for MX440s’ bad reputation. Looking
at NVIDIA’s chip market planning for the beginning of the
present year, we have the entire MX family being targeted to
the ‘mainstream’ market, while the Ti4600 is slated to
the Enthusiast, and the Ti4400, Ti4200 and GeForce3
Ti200 cards are aimed to the Performance consumer. I
could draw two interesting conclusions after looking at this
document (available on NVIDIA’s
site), the first is that manufacturers are obviously
taking advantage of the GeForce4 name and selling these new
MX cards as gaming-performance cards, when they actually
aren’t. They are budget oriented cards and IMHO they do a
wonderful job at it because they are quite fast (more
details on the rest of the review), unfortunately MX card
prices haven’t seen it’s bottom yet as Ti4200s are
becoming available as we speak.
My other conclusion was: why didn’t
NVIDIA relaunch the GeForce3 Ti200 chip with a new name that
could make a smoother transition between MX and Ti boards?
Something like GeForce4 Ti 3200 could have probably made it.
Hmmm… wait, now I remember they are in for the money, so, there you go ;).
On the next page we are getting into
detail on the Xtasy MX440 board itself, some pics and other
stuff next. Also later in the article we will be doing head
to head comparison between this board and a GeForce3 Ti200.