The MSI Radeon X800 SE\'s performance in FarCry is helped by the R420’s support for Shader Model 2.0b, and despite the fact that the 6600GT has support for Shader Model 3.0, it does not give the XFX enough of a boost in performance to compete with MSI’s X800 SE. The increase in performance enabled us to run with 2xAA on the Radeon X800 SE, while the 6600GT could not manage this - both cards were capable of running at 1024x768 with 8xAF.
Unfortunately, for MSI’s Radeon X800 SE, we were unable to run at 1280x1024 with no Anti-Aliasing, which is a shame because we would normally opt for the increase in resolution over increasing Anti-Aliasing in FarCry. On the whole, the Radeon X800 SE delivered a better gaming experience in this title, thanks to the increased image quality - even with the slightly lower average frame rate, our experience in FarCry was a smooth and enjoyable one on the MSI Radeon X800 SE.
I remember saying back when the first Doom 3 benchmarks were released in August, that ATI would find it considerably harder to catch up in Doom 3 than NVIDIA would in Half-Life 2. It would appear that my statement back then holds true, because XFX’s implementation of NVIDIA\'s GeForce 6600GT on AGP is capable of delivering a more pleasurable gaming experience in Doom 3, while Half-Life 2 remains a reasonable dead heat - albeit with the specific frame rates from our manual run throughs favouring ATI slightly in Half-Life 2.
On the whole, our experiences with the MSI Radeon X800 SE were very good, and we are impressed by the card\'s stability. However, the performance, coupled with the £211 asking price, are not quite in line with what XFX’s GeForce 6600GT can deliver at a mere £152. We’re not at all disappointed by the performance, and if you were to purchase this video card, you would not feel short changed either, it’s just the fact that a not dissimilar gaming experience can be had for less cash - a lot less cash. We are certainly not at all disappointed with the absolutely fantastic bundle that MSI always include; it\'s just that NVIDIA\'s GeForce 6600GT GPU is such a strong performer coupled with such a fantastic price. We believe that it makes recommending anything else in that price range, on AGP, a very tough call at the moment.
If you are interested in the bundle that comes with the MSI RX800 SE-TD256, then it is worth checking out the MSI NX6600GT-VTD128 - their implementation of the GeForce 6600GT on AGP, which is at a very competitive £151. It\'s clocked at 500/900, just like the reference design that we evaluated here
; you will of course be able to overclock it, and it should clock fairly well thanks to MSI replacing the reference aluminium cooler with a copper one.
- Tim Smalley