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Review: MSI GeForce FX5900

by Ryszard Sommefeldt on 29 June 2003, 00:00 4.5

Tags: MSI

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qash

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The Board Itself

Before we take a look at the board, I'll keep you waiting for a little while while I talk about the bundle. You've probably already seen the board pictures already, but it's worth the wait, even if just to glimpse my shocking camera skills again.

First off, here's the box the whole shooting match arrives in, it's quite something.

What's not apparent from that shot is just how big that box is. I'd have liked to have put another box in the shot too, for scale, but I fear you wouldn't be able to spot it. It's the Petronas Tower's of retail packaging, I kid you not.

Here's the box, opened up. Now look for the gap where the board pokes through (although it's not in the shot). If you didn't know already, FX 5900 boards aren't small. So scale it to the size of the box and you can get an idea how big it really is.

Finally, the inner plastic clamshell removed from the outer hinged box. You can see the bundle contents (or most of them anyway), I'll talk about those in just a second before moving on to the board itself.

What's missing from that shot is the card itself (at the time, sitting snugly in the test bench) and the quite fearsome amount of CD's that should be in that CD shaped part of the clamshell.

Bundle wise, you get a full array of games. 2 of the titles are excellent, Ghost Recon and Morrowind. While they aren't the newest titles in their world, Morrowind especially is a graphical feast, something apt to show off FX 5900's image quality and rendering power. Along with the games, you get a massive software bundle: Virtual Drive + Restore IT, WinDVD 5.1 + Foreign Language Learning Machine, MSI Driver + Utilities, MSI Media Center Deluxe II and Photoshop Album & 3D Album.

Cable wise, it's DVI-I to VGA Adaptor, S-Video to S-Video cable, S-Video to Composite convertor cable and a Y Style 4-pin power cable, everything you need to hook up the board to a variety of output devices including regular VGA outputs and televisions. While I wont specifically cover nView in this review, I can report that it works perfectly with the FX 5900. Actually, it works better than perfectly, it has a better range of options (for my setup at least) than ATI's recent boards and a stunning range of control over the output, including native 720 pixel resolution on the TV, picture sharpening, full screen automatic display of hardware overlays and all kinds of other good stuff.

Ports on the backplane are DVI-I, S-Video and standard 9-pin D-SUB VGA.

Finally, the board itself.

What you can't see is the seperate cooling on the back side of the board. Another sizable chunk of what appears to be copper coloured aluminium with another fan embedded inside. It's not heavy enough to be copper and far too shiny, but looks absolutely stunning all the same.

So, two fans, one on each side, making for a big board in those dimensions. You do lose a PCI slot, but, in the target systems of people that MSI are aiming for with this board, I can't see that being any kind of a problem.

If you want a look at how it compares in size to a Radeon 9700 Pro (my trusty Sapphire), click here.

What about the noise? Two fans equals ear splitting aural mutilation and a trip to the doctor for a hearing aid fitment? I'll keep that little secret until the end of the review I think.

On to the test setup before we look at some lovely graphs.