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XFX Graphics GeForce4 MX 440 graphics card

Value performance without so much as a whisper

ManufacturerXFX Graphics
ModelGeForce4 MX 440
Price (MSRP)US$129

NVIDIA's GEFORCE4 MX 440 occupies an interesting niche in the graphics marketplace. The NV17 chip at the heart of the GeForce4 MX line is essentially a hopped-up GeForce2 with augmented DVD playback and antialiasing capabilities. The GeForce4 MX 440's real selling point is its price, which lies somewhere between $80 and $100 depending on which manufacturer and vendor you choose.

Despite being a new product, the GeForce4 MX is about a generation and a half behind the latest from NVIDIA. This doesn't necessarily mean you should pass it by; game developers haven't yet taken full advantage of the features that the GeForce4 MX line is lacking. Casual gamers, Counter-Strike junkies, and even home and business users are prime candidates for GeForce4 MX love.

Today we have XFX's GeForce4 MX 440 in-house, and we've run it through the gauntlet. Despite being based on NVIDIA's reference design, XFX has still managed to make its GF4 MX graphics card quite unique. Does the XFX GeForce4 MX 440 impress? Let's find out.

The card
Colored PCBs have been all the rage of late; those with case windows can show off motherboards, graphics cards, and even memory built on PCBs of just about every color of the rainbow. XFX has gone the colored PCB route with its GeForce4 MX 440, and instead of a bright red, deep blue, or garish purple, they decided on dark brown.

With a brown PCB, the XFX GeForce4 MX 440 is certainly . . . distinctive

Honestly, I could care less what a graphics board looks like; I don't have any case windows, and it's rare that I open my case just to stare at the internals. Still, I think the brown PCB looks horrible. I'm not sure if XFX was trying to go with a wood theme here, but the color leaves the XFX GeForce4 MX 440 wide open to way too many jokes.

Half the RAM goes on the back of the card

Apart from its brown PCB, the rest of the card's layout is pretty standard. You'll find half of the XFX GeForce4 MX 440's 64MB of DDR SDRAM on the front of the card, and half on the back. Having memory split between the front and back of the graphics card isn't a big deal, unless you plan on adding some memory heat sinks. If the heat sinks are too tall, you might block a DIMM slot or your chipset's heat sink, depending on your motherboard's layout.

DVI, VGA, and S-Video outputs populate the backplane

The XFX GeForce4 MX 440's backplane is graced with VGA, DVI, and S-Video outputs. Unfortunately, you're out of luck if you want to run two VGA monitors with a DVI-to-VGA adapter; there's only one RAMDAC. It's a little disappointing that XFX hasn't gone with a second RAMDAC on the card, especially given the quality of NVIDIA's new nView multi-monitor software. Still, I suppose the majority of the market would rather have the card be a little cheaper than have an extra RAMDAC that would go unused by most consumers. As great as multiple monitors are, they haven't come anywhere close to penetrating the mainstream.

Samsung DDR chips rated to 200MHz

NVIDIA's spec for the GeForce4 MX 440 calls for 200MHz DDR SDRAM, and XFX doesn't stray with its use of Samsung memory chips.

It's a simple bundle, but do you really need more?

XFX's bundles only the bare essentials with its GeForce4 MX 440, and that's just fine by me. Games and other extras only add to the cost of the product, and if an included game was one I really wanted, I probably would've bought it already anyway.