VisionTek Xtasy MX 440 review: VisionTek Xtasy MX 440

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MSRP: $179.99
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4 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Fast 2D performance; dual-monitor support, low price.

The Bad Average 3D performance; no DVI connector; no bundled games.

The Bottom Line The Xtasy GeForce4 MX 440 teams a lower-end GeForce4 chipset with modest memory to create a capable graphics card for budget-minded or occasional gamers as well as mainstream buyers.

8.0 Overall

While some users must have the latest whiz-bang 3D-graphics technology, others need just a basic, affordable graphics card with some 3D capability. For the latter, VisionTek offers the Xtasy GeForce4 MX 440. Based on a lower-end version of Nvidia's new GeForce4 chipset and saddled with slower (and less) memory, the MX 440 can't compete with cards such as the PNY Verto GeForce4 Ti 4600. But for budget-minded or occasional gamers as well as mainstream buyers, it's a capable choice. While some users must have the latest whiz-bang 3D-graphics technology, others need just a basic, affordable graphics card with some 3D capability. For the latter, VisionTek offers the Xtasy GeForce4 MX 440. Based on a lower-end version of Nvidia's new GeForce4 chipset and saddled with slower (and less) memory, the MX 440 can't compete with cards such as the PNY Verto GeForce4 Ti 4600. But for budget-minded or occasional gamers as well as mainstream buyers, it's a capable choice.

A modest performer
The $150 MX 440's 270MHz core-clock speed and 64MB of 400MHz DDR SDRAM peg it as one of the slower GeForce4 chipsets; in contrast, the PNY Verto (based on the GeForce4 Ti 4600 chipset) has 128MB of 650MHz memory and core-clock speeds of 300MHz. But compared to other mainstream graphics cards such as the similarly priced Hercules 3D Prophet III GeForce3 Ti 200 and the ATI Radeon 7500 in CNET Labs' tests, the MX 440 stacks up well. In our 3DMark2001 and Quake III trials, the MX 440 fell just behind the Hercules but stayed ahead of the ATI. It essentially tied for second with the ATI in the 3D WinBench 2000 test, but it beat both cards in our 2D test. The bottom line: The MX 440 can ably handle most mainstream games, but 3D performance tends to decrease at higher image resolutions.

There's one initial caveat when you install the Xtasy GeForce4 MX 440: You'll need an AGP 2.0 slot to use the card, as there's no PCI version currently in the works. Everything else is a snap. Just drop the card into the AGP slot and follow the large text and helpful graphics on the included instruction sheet. The Xtasy GeForce4 MX 440 is compatible with nearly every version of Windows from 95 onward. In addition to a CD-ROM with graphic display drivers, the card also comes with the CyberLink PowerDVD software, which can enhance your DVD playback experience (that is, if you have a DVD-ROM on your system). VisionTek also includes a disc of demos but, sadly, no bundled games.

Two VGA connectors on the back of the card give you the option of adding a second display. The MX 440's dual-monitor performance was impressive. Even when using both outputs for 2D graphics (in either Extended Desktop or Cloned Display modes), we saw no significant drop in performance. The only letdown was the lack of a DVI connector for higher-end flat-panel displays; although all CRTs and many low-cost LCDs are still analog, an all-digital signal produces a better image.

Well supported
VisionTek's standard support policies for the Xtasy GeForce4 MX 440 are distinguished by a limited lifetime warranty. Free phone support is less impressive, available via a toll call Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. CT. Outside of these hours, you can e-mail tech support or check the FAQ sheets on the VisionTek Web site, where you can also find technical briefs, drivers, updates, and utilities.

A good starter card
VisionTek's Xtasy GeForce4 MX 440 is modestly ambitious in both performance and purpose. Not everyone needs the fastest 3D card in the market, especially those on a budget. For such users, the Xtasy GeForce4 MX 440 offers solid 3D and 2D performance and dual-monitor support in an inexpensive package.

Quake III Arena test
Frames per second; longer bars indicate better performance
32-bit color; 1,024x768   
32-bit color; 1,280x1,024   
32-bit color; 1,600x1,200   
Hercules 3D Prophet III Titanium 200 (Nvidia GeForce3; 64MB DDR)
149.3 
100.3 
70.5 
VisionTek Xtasy GeForce4 MX 440 (64MB DDR)
142.4 
95.5 
66.9 
ATI Radeon 7500 (64MB DDR)
115.1 
74.4 
52.8 
 
3D test: MadOnion's 3DMark 2001 Pro
Longer bars indicate better performance
32-bit color; 1,024x768   
32-bit color; 1,280x1,024   
32-bit color; 1,600x1,200
Hercules 3D Prophet III Titanium 200 (Nvidia GeForce3; 64MB DDR)
6,221 
4,924 
3,779 
VisionTek Xtasy GeForce4 MX 440 (64MB DDR)
5,158 
4,014 
3,067 
ATI Radeon 7500 (64MB DDR)
4,457 
3,640 
2,891 
 
3D test: eTesting Labs' 3D WinBench 2000 1.1
Longer bars indicate better performance
32-bit color; 1,024x768   
32-bit color; 1,280x1,024   
32-bit color; 1,600x1,200
Hercules 3D Prophet III Titanium 200 (Nvidia GeForce3; 64MB DDR)
199 
136 
99 
VisionTek Xtasy GeForce4 MX 440 (64MB DDR)
161 
109 
78.7 
ATI Radeon 7500 (64MB DDR)
162 
108 
79.8 
 
2D test: eTesting Labs' Business Graphics WinMark 99 2.0
Longer bars indicate better performance
VisionTek Xtasy GeForce4 MX 440 (64MB DDR)
475 
Hercules 3D Prophet III Titanium 200 (Nvidia GeForce3; 64MB DDR)
384 
ATI Radeon 7500 (64MB DDR)
370 
 
Pitted against two similarly equipped cards, the VisionTek Xtasy GeForce4 MX 440 held its own. In 3D testing, it was no match for the Hercules 3D Prophet III Ti 200, but it outperformed or tied with the ATI Radeon 7500 in the other three trials. The Xtasy thrived in 2D environments, where neither the Hercules nor the ATI could keep up with it.

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