If you were to ask the average computer user their ideal graphics card, you would probably get responses that centre around maximum performance for minimal monetary outlay. Undoubtedly, most people would choose the fastest graphics card in town, the NVIDIA Geforce4 Ti 4600, if money was not an issue. With retail Ti 4600s being advertised with up to a £365 price tag, money is seemingly an issue for all apart from those who are deep of pocket or who simply want the best irrespective of cost.
NVIDIA, somewhat wisely, have more than one card in their premium Ti 4xxx range. The cards are largely differentiated on the relative clock-speeds on offer, all other features remain largely intact. As we have mentioned, the Ti 4600 heads the range with core and memory clocks of 300/650 MHz respectively. Next comes the Ti 4400, one that sports standard clock-speeds of 275/550 MHz respectively. The slight decrease in clock-speeds is accompanied by a lower price point than the Ti 4600, usually by £60 - £85 below the flagship card.
NVIDIA's previous premium card before the Ti 4xxx series was introduced was the Geforce3 Ti 500. We had previously demonstrated that the newer iteration of Geforce4 Ti 4xxxx video cards were comfortably superior than the Ti 500 in the majority of our benchmarks, especially when anti-aliasing was used. Considering that the Ti 500 was still selling well, with a retail price tag of over £200, the £250 or so Ti 4400 seemed like a veritable bargain, a small price premium for tangible performance gains across the board.
NVIDIA had initially wanted to introduce a third card to the Ti 4xxx stable, the Ti 4200, in both 64MB and 128MB varieties. The rather obvious problem was one of product placement within their range. How could you feasibly introduce a newer video card, one that would arguably outperform the incumbent Geforce3 Ti 500, at a lower price point ?, especially when the Ti 500 was selling so well.
We saw the retail introduction of the Ti 4400 and Ti 4600 around 3 months ago but no sign of the baby Ti 4200. Its delay came as no surprise because NVIDIA were only keen in introducing it until stock of the Geforce3 Ti 500 became depleted. That situation arose recently and, rather unsurprisingly, so did a number of press releases concerning imminent Ti 4200s from major retail manufacturers. The idea of Geforce Ti 4xxx power, with a very reasonable price-tag (sub £200 by all accounts), caused genuine excitement in the graphics card community.
MSI (Micro-Star International) gave us due notice that their Ti 4200 cards were ready to ship in retail form. We were only too pleased to receive a full retail sample of this, one of the most interesting graphics cards in the market today.
Let's finish with the preamble and have an in-depth look at the card itself, should be interesting.