This MSI graphics card is based on NVIDIA's GeForce 8500 GT GPU (graphics processing unit), which is aimed at the mainstream end of the PC market. It's a less powerful GPU than NVIDIA's 8600 GT as it has only half the processing power and slower GPU and memory speeds.

For processing pixels, the 8500 GT has only 16 parallel pipelines. In comparison, the 8600 GT has 32 pipelines. This means that it can render approximately half the amount of pixels per second that the 8600 GT can - as was shown in our tests. The standard speed for the 8500 GT GPU is 400MHz, and the standard memory speed is 800MHz. This card uses 256MB of DDR2 memory at 800MHz, but MSI has used a slightly faster GPU, which runs at 459MHz.

Despite the extra frequency, the frame rates that the card averaged in our tests aren't conducive to smooth game play. In F.E.A.R, at a resolution of 1024x768 and with 4x anti-aliasing enabled, the card averaged 28fps (frames per second). Running the test at 1280x960, the card scored 19fps. These results indicate that this card won't be able to comfortably play taxing DirectX 9-based games, unless the resolution is turned down and image detail is reduced. In the DirectX 10 test, using the game demonstration Lost Planet, the card averaged a very low score of 12fps at a resolution of 1024x768 and medium image quality settings.

It's safe to say that this card shouldn't be considered if you're after an inexpensive card purely for gaming, but it's a decent and inexpensive option for an entry-level PC that runs Windows Vista. It's also a good card to go for if you're planning on building a media centre PC. The card doesn't get too hot, it doesn't require supplemental power, and it's got a relatively quiet fan and heat-sink assembly.

The NX8500GT incorporates NVIDIA's PureVideo HD technology, which can hardware-accelerate Blu-ray and HD-DVD formats, so it's an inexpensive upgrade if you find that your current PC has trouble decoding high definition content (such as H.264 files). For connectivity, the card has a VGA port (in case you have an older monitor lying around) and a DVI port, and it ships with a Component break-out cable and an S-Video cable for its TV-Out port.

The MSI NX8500GT can be summed up as an inexpensive card that's perfect for an entry-level Windows Vista PC, or a media centre PC, but it shouldn't be considered if you want to play current and future games.

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