MSI StarForce 822 Retail GeForce3 64MBby Matthew Witheiler on June 27, 2001 11:46 PM EST
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A bit has changed since we last looked at the StarForce 822 just last week. Many aspects of the board that we once criticized are now changed for the better.
For starters, MSI added a much-needed cooling system. If you recall, the initial StarForce 822 came with a stock NVIDIA fan and no cooling on the memory chips. Clearly, this has changed in the new version of the card. The new MSI StarForce 822 features a large, integrated cooling system that covers a good portion of the card.
In an effort to maximize surface area, as well as produce an eye-pleasing design, the cooling solution found on the StarForce 822 consists of a 9 blade fan and heatsink combination that integrates itself with the memory heatsinks. The RAM-sinks on the card are actually part of the core heatsink, as the three pieces (the two RAM-sinks and the core heatsink/fan) interlock together. These parts, when placed together, produce one of the largest cooling solutions we have seen.
MSI has done right, so to speak, in attaching the heatsink and fan to the GeForce3 core using a proper amount of thermal grease. As we have noted time and time again, thermal grease provides the best method of heat transfer from core to cooling solution, as long as it is applied properly.
Like all other RAM-sinks we have seen, the large memory heatsinks on the StarForce 822 are attached to the RAM chips with thermal tape. Every manufacturer we have seen uses thermal tape on the memory because there is no room for pins necessary to hold the heatsinks in place when using less adhesive cooling solutions (like thermal grease).
Underneath the RAM-sinks lie the same 3.8ns EliteMT memory we have seen on every other GeForce3 board. It seems that EliteMT is the only company supplying these 8MB DDR memory chips at the high speed needed for the GeForce3's memory clock. We suspect that this will not change any time soon, so you can count on your GeForce3 (be it an MSI or another brand) having 3.8ns EliteMT DDR memory chips.
The board design of the StarForce 822 remains the same as the previous version, as both utilize NVIDIA's reference design. This provides a fast, stable design and does not require a significant amount of time or money to produce the design of the board. The only manufacturer we have seen stray away from the reference design is ASUS, who uses a custom GeForce3 design to give their ASUS V8100 Deluxe integrated VIVO functions as well as hardware monitoring.
MSI tells us that the BIOS of the new StarForce 822 has been updated from the previous version. We would have to wait until we tested the card before we saw what difference this made.
The StarForce 822 still features the same VIVO daughter card we saw on the initial board. Powered by the Philips SAA7108E chip, the StarForce 822 has the ability to output in S-video and composite form as well as input in composite form. Although the card still lacks an S-video input connection, the StarForce 822 does offer something that no other competitor we have seen does: VIVO standard. That is correct, the version of the StarForce 822 that we looked at here is the same version that comes in every retail package. There is no "stripped down" version of the StarForce 822, as all cards feature the impressive cooling and VIVO functions at no extra charge.
For video editing, the StarForce 822 comes with Ulead's Video Studio 4.0, which we took a look at here. The package also comes with Idea Box which offers a collection of .AVI clips perfect for inserting into homemade video. There are 64 clips in total and consist of everything from explosions, to space scenes, to fireworks. Missing is a simple, custom video recording utility like the one that came on our ASUS V6800 GeForce DDR card. This utility was better suited for quick and painless video capture where the advanced features of Video Studio 4.0 just seem to get in the way.