It's now been almost 3 months since we first glimpsed the awesome power of the Geforce4 Ti 4600. We had previously seen NVIDIA's incremental increase from the Geforce3 to the Geforce3 Ti500 as nothing but a means of fending off the potent challenge of ATI's Radeon 8500.
We've seen that the Geforce4 Ti 4600 is not simply faster than its immediate predecessor, it's fundamentally better. Firstly, it addressed one of the chief criticisms leveled at the Geforce3 and prior NVIDIA cards, namely relatively poor 2D quality. The 2D quality of the reference Ti 4600 was subjectively on a par, if not better than, the R8500, the standard-setter for 2D quality in video cards with a performance bias.
NVIDIA wisely decided to take a leaf out of Matrox and ATI's book with the inception of nView, their dual display solution powered by the onboard dual RAMDACs. Jagged edges, the bane of gamers who played at lower resolutions, were taken care of by the upgraded anti-aliasing logic with a minimal performance hit. The onboard 128MB of super-fast memory gave game developers the chance to use larger, more realistic textures. Never before had we seen such power and flexibility in one video card.
The upgraded clock speeds simply meant that you could turn up the detail to maximum and not have to worry about frame rates. 1600x1200x32 became a playable reality for those with larger screens. The initial release of the Geforce4 Ti 4400 (275/550 clocks) and Geforce4 Ti 4600 (300/650 clocks) meant that high performance came in two flavours depending upon your budget. The imminent release of the Ti 4200 (250/500 clocks) will allow those with a more limited budget to fully share in the Geforce4 Ti experience.
One of NVIDIA's strengths has always been the ability to closely collaborate with their partners. The close collaboration, coupled with an excellent relationship with TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation), the chipset fabricators, has ensured that retail branded cards usually appear in the marketplace shortly after a new GPU has been announced and reviewed.
MSI (Micro-Star International), perhaps more noted for their range of excellent motherboards, are no strangers to the video card business. Indeed, they have been a close partner of NVIDIA's for some time now, stretching back to the TNT series of cards. MSI's raison d'etre seems to lie in producing products that go the extra mile, that offer the end-user more value-for-money. Very rarely do you see an MSI product without an extensive feature list or value-adding extras.
So, it is with some anticipation that we opened the delivery box containing MSI's top-of-the-line GF4Ti4600-VTD.