Graphics Cards Guide
The MSI NX8800GTX OC Liquid
The MSI NX8800GTX OC Liquid
As good as it may sound, we can't credit MSI with being the first to introduce a water-cooled GeForce 8800 GTX. ASUS recently launched its GeForce 8800 GTX AquaTank and BFG too has its own water-cooled version available for a while now. With a core clock of 610MHz and a memory speed of 2000MHz DDR, this MSI card is actually slightly inferior to the 630MHz found on the ASUS. However, while ASUS' version features a Thermaltake water-cooling unit that is similar to the standalone retail kits sold by Thermaltake, MSI goes its own way with a custom solution. It consists of a single large heatsink which covers almost the entire card, including the important components like memory ICs and some of the power delivery components. On the top of the far-reaching heatsink and positioned directly above the GPU, a water cooling module consisting of the cooling block and mini-reservoir is seated firmly while the thick tubing snakes out to the separate large radiator and fan unit.
Everything has been pre-installed, short of actually having MSI to install the card into your chassis. A thin but adequately illustrated guide details the process for users, from the installation of the card into the PCIe slot, to where the radiator and fan unit should be attached. The 120mm fan and radiator unit should be mounted at the back of the chassis where the exhaust fan is usually located and plays a dual role of cooling the radiator along with the usual role of sucking warm air out of the chassis. Mounting screws are provided and the mounting holes on the radiator are provisioned such that it can be installed in casings with 80mm, 90mm or 120mm exhaust fan outlets. However, we do have some reservations about the 55mm thick radiator and fan module. While we have no problems with the standard coolers bundled with the CPU, the radiator and fan unit may interfere with some of the larger and taller CPU coolers in the market. Also, the large radiator size, its 120mm cooling fan and the snaking tubing rules out the possibility of using slimmer casings as they simply won't fit.
A small electric pump pushes the coolant through the closed system of the water-cooling unit. While everything may seem very watertight and sealed at the moment, we wonder how long the coolant is expected to last as it's not specified. Normally it should not deplete before the card becomes obsolete, but if at all it requires topping up, there's a large screw at one corner of the radiator which when removed provides an inlet for users to replenish the coolant. During the operation of this MSI graphics card, expect minimal noise from the 120mm fan (but it's not completely quiet) and the tubes may feel slightly warm to touch during operation. However, the rest of the card feels drastically cooler than the usual stock GeForce 8800 GTX graphics cards and this is the direct result of using water cooling as you'll see later in our results.
The usual bunch of MSI proprietary technologies are also found on the OC Liquid edition. Users should now be familiar with MSI's Dynamic Overclocking Technology (D.O.T), which makes it easier for novices to quickly and safely overclock the card (up to 10%). Meanwhile, the vaguely named Dual CoreCell supposedly leads to a cleaner signal to enhance performance. Other decent tools include StarOSD, a utility for users to adjust graphical settings on-the-fly from within their gaming applications and MSI Vivid, which controls the contrast, brightness and settings related to image quality so as to suit the needs of different applications and users. Finally, MSI has also bundled the recent award winning PC game, Company of Heroes for the gamers. The items found in the box are as follows:
- 2 x DVI-to-VGA adaptors
- 9-pin mini-DIN to Component/S-Video dongle
- 6-pin PCIe to 4-pin Molex power plug converter
- S-Video extension cable
- Mounting screws for radiator/fan
- Quick Installation guide
- Quick User's guide
- MSI Multimedia (Drivers & Utilities)
- Company of Heroes (full game)