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The power to play
We get lots of emails saying that we spend all our time on expensive hardware that very few people care about. Were told that the vast majority of gamers and regular users want enough power to play without having to sell a kidney on eBay to achieve it. So today Im going to ignore the lot of you and Im going to call out to the power gamer, the financially comfortable and those who just get a buzz from insanely fast hardware.

MSI's NX7800GTX graphics card is undeniably powerful. Based on NVIDIA's G70 graphics processing unit, the 7800GTX can boast a core that flies along at 430MHz and sports 24 pipelines. NVIDIA have tweaked and fettled their NV4x series of processing units to reach the G70. On the memory front, this card comes with 256MB of GDDR3 running at 600MHz, that's effectively 1.2GHz (1200MHz) DDR.

Although a comparatively large card with a length edging on 240mm, the NX7800GTX is at least a single slot solution. That said, the cooler is fairly industrial in its design and certainly isn't employed for show

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As with most graphics cards we see some unusual design on the heatsink. This one features an angel reaching skyward. What happened to MSI's usual hankering for butt-ugly alien lifeforms or gravity defying craft from another millennium? Either way it makes a nice change, though I can't say the design particularly floats my boat.

If you've any doubts about the merits of that cooler, one look at the heavy duty bracing employed on the rear of the card to keep everything securely in place without the PCB buckling should set your mind at rest.

Output comes courtesy of a pair of DVI digital connectors, which is great for digital monitor users but does require a dongle (or two) for users of regular analogue displays.

The round connector takes the supplied adaptor and handles all video in/video out functionality including S-Video in and out and HDTV out support with limited H.264 hardware acceleration.

In the box are all the cables you'll need to get up and running including an S-Video extension cable. MSI also supply the adaptor required to power the 6-pin PCI-Express auxiliary connector from a pair of regular 4-pin Molex connectors if your power supply doesn't come with a hard-wired PCI-Express plug.

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Games bundles generally fall into two categories, either there are lots of demos and a pretty old game or there are several very old games. MSI actually decided to bundle just one game, but what a game it is!

Chronicles of Riddick, Escape From Butcher Bay isn't quite hot off the presses but it's new enough and significant enough to be worth a mention. Not only was it one of the best games of 2004 it remains visually and technologically a superb showcase for the power of the G70 GPU. It's not quite Half Life 2 but it beats the pants off most bundled titles.