The MSI StarForce 822 screams NVIDIA reference design; not that there is anything wrong with that. When we first laid our eyes upon the card, distinguishing it from the reference card that NVIDIA sent us was a difficult task, until we noticed something missing.
The only difference between the NVIDIA reference board and the MSI StarForce 822 is that the latter has no heatsinks on the 3.8ns memory chips. That is right, the StarForce 822 is the first GeForce3 card we have seen to not use any form of cooling on the 460MHz memory chips. In the past we have seen cards not work properly when the so called "RAM-sinks" were removed. Apparently, the problems we saw on other cards were not a result of the high memory clock speed or MSI has found a way to get around this problem. Regardless, the MSI StarForce 822 had no problems running at the stock speed without any cooling of the memory chips. We would have to wait a bit before we could observe how this influenced overclockablity.
Like every other GeForce3 card we have seen, the StarForce 822 uses eight 3.8ns EliteMT chips for a total of 64MB of memory.
The GeForce3 core itself is cooled via the same heatsink and fan combination that came on the reference card. The surface area of this heatsink is not that impressive since there are very few fins on the heatsink, but its large size makes up for this. Both the reference card and the StarForce 822 use a 7 blade fan running off of .07 amps. The heatsink is bonded to the GeForce3 core with a thermal pad similar to those found on many CPU heatsinks. The pad is a very thin, slightly adhesive, yellow material that should do an adequate job of transferring heat from the core to the heatsink body, but perhaps not as good of a job that a properly applied amount of thermal grease can do.
Our card featured no DVI-out port but instead came with the optional VIVO daughter card. This card is powered by the Philips SAA7108E chip that we first saw on the Gainward CARDEXPERT GeForce3 PowerPack !!!. The input and output methods used by the StarForce 822 and the optional VIVO daughter card are somewhat limited when compared to other solutions. This is because instead of using a single output port connected to a dongle to provide composite in, composite out, S-video in, and S-video out, the StarForce 822's card has three ports located on the back of the card. These ports consist of an S-video out port, a composite out port, and a composite in port. Missing from the setup is a S-video in port. This limits the quality of the input signal, as S-video provides better image quality than composite video.
The reason for not including an S-video in port is most likely simple a space issue, since the face plate of the card is quite full with 3 VIVO ports on it. If we had to make a choice as to whether we wanted an S-video in port or a composite in port, we would have also chosen the composite input port, but both input methods would still be ideal.
The video capture software is the same that we have seen in many other VIVO devices: Ulead Video Studio . For more information, please read about the software here.