We have looked at many MSI cards in the past, and we are generally very impressed with what they put together – they aren't one to skimp on added extras, and this product is no different in that respect.
The software that MSI have included with the video card is the usual plethora of games and applications. There are three games from Ubisoft included in the bundle, namely Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow, XIII and Uru. These come along with a selection of video and photo editing applications and the standard MSI utility CD. As always, we recommend using the latest Catalyst drivers from ATI's home page.
There is an interesting junction box included in the bundle of cables – something that we have not seen until now. It features a TV to HDTV switch, S-Video In/Out, Component In/Out and also Left/Right Audio In. There is also a direct S-Video cable that can either be used separately, or in conjunction with the junction box. The Left/Right Audio-In negates the need for the yellow audio connector on the PCB for connecting directly to the sound card.
MSI's X800 XL also features the ATI Rage Theater chip that enables video encoding and decoding capabilities on the video card. However, it does not feature the audio connector and the additional power connector that are features of Club3D's card. The lack of the additional power connector may prove to be a limitation to the card's overclocking capabilities – we're not too sure on exactly how much power the video card draws from the PCI-Express interconnect, but we have a feeling that the Radeon X800 XL is fairly close to the maximum 75W that a PCI-Express x16 slot can deliver.
While on the subject of overclocking, this video card features the same 1.6ns, 600MHz (1200MHz DDR) BGA memory chips that are used on Club3D's implementation.
The back plate is exactly the same as Club3D's – featuring two DVI connectors and a Video-In/Video-Out port. However, much like Club3D, they seem to have forgotten the second DVI to VGA converter in the bundled cables – those users who are still using dual analogue/CRT monitors will have to find another DVI to VGA converter from somewhere else.
The heatsink is a copper design with a clear fan – it's quiet and efficient, and it actually resembles something similar to the GeForce 6600 GT reference cooler. There are a couple of blue LED's embedded in the fan that aren't overly bright, but make the fan look a little out of place from an aesthetic point of view – we feel that red LED's would fit in better with the colour of the PCB and heatsink artwork. These are merely minor nit picks at the aesthetics of the heatsink design – in practice; the heatsink does a good job of keeping the R430 graphics processor cool.