MSI NX7600GT Diamond Plus
Maybe the oddest of the cards tested this time comes from MSI. Whereas Palit and Leadtek only differe in the clock speeds, the MSI's card has a HDMI-connector, a totally different looking circuit board and some other features the competitors don't.
MSI is known to pack the most bundle with their products, especially the Diamond-series and the 7600 GT is no exception. This time the box isn't enormous but still there's about the same number of items packed in as Palit and Leadtek put together. Box contais following: Heroes of Might and Magic 5, two CDs full of drivers and apps, quick installation guide, quick users guide, S-video cable, HDMI-cable, a S-video/component in- and output cable, a case badge and two spdif-wires.
Most of these are a common sight in a graphic card bundle but there are also some specialities.
Here's the weird cables that came with the Diamond Plus. The collection of connectors on the right may seem like a normal component video output at first sight but a closer inspection shows that this version actually has two S-video and composite in connectors besides the component video. The black S-video connector is a normal output but the white one is input. The small cables, also MSI's specialities, are SPDIF-connections. Audio and VGA-card sound a bit weird combination but these wires are needed to get the digital audio signal to the HDMI-connector. Orange-black wire is used when there's an internal SPDIF-connection on the sound card or motherboard and the yellow plug is used when there's only an external SPDIF-out jack.
With all these features it seems like the primary use for this card could be in the livingroom, inside a HTPC where it's always a good thing to get the best possible video quality and good connector selection.
Compared to its competitors the Diamond plus is slightly longer. The larger PCB in itself doesn't mean anything but it indicates that MSI hasn't just copied the reference design of nVidia but made one of their own. This own design should make a difference to a way or another in the performance tests.
Difference is clearly seen from this angle. The leftmost is MSI, Palit on the middle and Leadtek on the right. There's only one DVI-connector and a HDMI in the MSI's back plate. This HDMI is a pretty common sight in todays AV-devices but still a rather rare sight on the graphic cards. Throught the HDMI it should be possible to deliver a top quality digital data to a flat TV or a projector.
The cooler is an aluminum one with a 60 mm fan in the middle. The cooler is about same sized as the one in Leadtek but the MSI's cooler being aluminum, it may be a bit less effective. The cooler is fixed with four screws exactly like the cooler of nVidia's reference board. This is a good way to mount even larger coolers as it spreads the weight for a larger area than just two screws. Removing the cooler reveals the memory chips and some of the lousiest thermal paste I've ever seen. The memory chips are 1,4 ns models from Infineon. The thermal grease that MSI had used was hardened and was rock solid when I tried to remove it. This can't be good if you're about to overclock the card.
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