Like so many other vendors, MSI has followed the reference design to the letter. Our card came with the standard ATI decal engraved on the cooler shroud. The MSI decal that you see in our pictures was in fact pasted onto the cooler by our own hands. This could very well be applicable only to our review set, but it did make us wonder if MSI even took the cards out of their static bags or did they just ship them straight to retail stores after packing them into MSI boxes (since these cards are probably built by ATI and sent to its partners).
No matter what the actual process is like, the final MSI RX1800XT-VT2D512E that reaches the stores will be standard Radeon X1800 XT 512MB cards with no overclocking out of the box. Though default, the core clock runs at a relatively high speed of 625MHz while the 1.25ns RAMs are at 1500MHz DDR. These speeds are needed for the Radeon X1800 XT to compete with its NVIDIA competitors, but the obvious and undesired side effect is the heat generated by these cards. ATI has opted for a two-slot cooler, similar in concept to those found on its Radeon X850 XT cards, though the ones on the MSI Radeon X1800 XT are slightly larger. It also happens to be a very noisy cooler.
A high-end card like the MSI RX1800XT-VT2D512E should be a complete all rounder, suitable for gaming, multimedia applications and even video processing, as is the case here. Like all standard Radeon X1800 XT cards, the MSI has a Rage Theater chip onboard, which gives the card VIVO (Video-In, Video-Out) capabilities. This could provide very useful to the consumer, especially when used in conjunction with ATI's Catalyst 5.13 drivers, which have finally unleashed some of the potential of the AVIVO technology supported by the Radeon X1800 XT. Dual DVI-I connectors together with the versatile mini-DIN connector make this a modern graphics card deserving of its high-end status.
The bundle from MSI is quite a familiar one as the utilities and the Colin McRae Rally 2005 game have appeared before in quite a few of MSI's other graphics products. The Star DVD family of applications is quite a comprehensive set of useful DVD related programs. MSI has also included many utilities and other programs in its MSI Multimedia collection that handle a myriad of functions like driver updates. Together with the included game, it is a decent if typical MSI bundle. The following items are found in the package: