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MSI Ti4800SE-VTD8X - getting acquainted
Micro-Star International (MSI) have made huge leaps in bringing their brand image to the forefront of most people's minds. To do this they have produced products that have flare, pack a load of features and all at a good price point. More famous for their red motherboards, MSI have also built up a solid range of VGA cards based on NVIDIA GPUs. Late last year we looked at one of the first boards based on the NV28 GPU and today we'll be looking at their Geforce Ti4800SE model.

Right from the outset it is important to point out what the Ti4800SE actually is. Many people were angry at the name given by NVIDIA and it's board partners to this latest round of products. The Ti4800SE is based on the Geforce 4 Ti4400 part and is AGP 8x enabled. The Ti4800 (note the lack of "SE") is a Geforce 4 Ti4600 part with AGP 8x enabled.

If you are cynical (and we are) you will look upon these products as a last ditch effort from NVIDIA to get every last sale from their Geforce 4 line of cards. Last year was a brilliant year for arch rival ATi, and NVIDIA were seen as mere spectators after their inability to bring out the Geforce FX. Many hoped that at Comdex we would see a product, and indeed we did, however it was merely a burst of information at what was a very sensitive time for sales in the run up to Christmas. With many of NVIDIA's largest board partners confirming to us they hadn't received NV30 parts even in the middle of December it didn't look good for the giant. We are still hearing (as I'm sure you are) conflicting reports as to when these cards will hit the stores, and one thing is for certain; it's a few weeks yet.

It was imperative for NVIDIA not to be standing flat footed during this Christmas period. When the NV28 part was announced it was greeted with a mixed reception. The cynics were quick to point out that this was merely a quick fix for not being able to debut the NV30 part in 2002. When you look at what the NV28 is, you can understand why people were quick to point such things out. The NV28 doesn't have anything brand new other than AGP 8x support. With very few games taking full advantage of AGP 8x, and motherboard support only starting to become widespread, it isn't a technology that will bump up the performance of cards in the short term.

The NV28 was first implemented on the popular Geforce 4 Ti4200 line of cards, and we've reviewed two of these; Asus' V9280s and MSI's Ti4200-TD8X64. Both cards produced a mix set of figures but surprisingly it was the Ti4200-TD8X64 that edged above the Asus model, even though it had 64Mb of RAM on board.

We (and it seems most of you) were surprised why 8x AGP support wasn't applied to the Geforce 4 Ti4400 and Ti4600. Most weren't expecting any changes to the already scarce Ti4400 but the Ti4600 was seen by many still to be the flagship of NVIDIA's desktop range and yet it wasn't the most modern and powerful. Somewhat confusing I think you'll agree. Therefore we now have the Ti4800. The numbering will leave many with a bitter taste in their mouth because it doesn't represent (at least in whole) the performance of this product, as we will find out, but does a good job of confusing a great deal of people.

Lets take a closer look at MSI's Ti4800SE board.