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eVGA's e-GeForce4 MX 440 graphics card

We all cool with a massive yellow heat sink
— 12:00 AM on March 25, 2002

Modele-GeForce4 MX 440

NVIDIA IS PLAYING THE NAME GAME with its latest line of graphics products. While the "4" in "GeForce4 MX" suggests something a generation beyond, or a step up from the GeForce3 line, the GeForce4 MX shares more with the GeForce2 than with anything in the GeForce3 or GeForce4 Titanium stables.

The GeForce4 MX is a new spin on old technology, but that doesn't necessarily mean that there's no place for it. Think about it: when was the last time you played a game that actually used pixel shaders, or other advanced DirectX 8 features? Heck, Counter-Strike remains one of the most popular games around, and its engine is older than the GeForce2.

There appears to be, at least in my mind, plenty of room in the market for the GeForce4 MX 440. Today, we're looking at eVGA's take on the chip, and we've even got a special little treat waiting for you at the end.

How much do the GeForce4 MX's GeForce2-era internals hold back its performance? What does eVGA bring to the table with its e-GeForce4 MX 440? What kind of tantalizing surprise do we have in store for you? Read on to find out.

The card
The first thing you'll notice about the e-GeForce4 MX 440 is the massive yellow heat sink that dominates the front of the card.

No memory heat sinks, but check out that cooler

As you can see above, all the capacitors are located at the top of the PCB, and shouldn't interfere with any motherboard hardware.

eVGA throws a couple of RAM chips on the back

Despite having to accommodate only 64MB of memory, eVGA puts half of the e-GeForce4 MX 440's RAM chips on the back of the card.

The bare backplane has only VGA and S-Video outputs

The e-GeForce4 MX 440's backplane looks pretty bare, featuring only VGA and S-Video outputs. This is really a shame, since NVIDIA's new nView multi-monitor implementation is reportedly excellent. Without a DVI output or the ability to support multiple monitors, the e-GeForce4 MX 440 has a couple of quick strikes against it.

What's really odd is that eVGA's own product description states the following:

The nView technology allows for unlimited flexibility within a multi-display environment for users ranging anywhere from multimedia enthusiasts to working professionals.
I'm not sure how limiting things to one S-Video and one VGA output translates into "unlimited flexibility."

5ns Samsung DDR memory chips

eVGA has populated the card with Samsung's 5ns DDR SDRAM, which should be good for 200MHz, or 400MHz DDR¬óright where the card runs, and no more. Using low-end memory is becoming the most popular way for companies to differentiate their low-end graphics cards from their high-end products. Card manufacturers can order different grades of memory to equate roughly to different memory clock speeds, significantly curtailing the overclocking potential of a given card. You might get lucky with a graphics core that you can clock far beyond spec, but the 5ns memory on this board will limit how much performance we can leverage from overclocking.