MSI N280GTX OC HydroGen

Introduction

Introduction

Pre-overclocked graphics cards are nothing new but pre overclocked AND watercooled cards are something of a rarity. MSI have seen a niche in the market they wish to explore with the OC HydroGen model based on the GTX280.

Despite MSI overclocking the GTX280 to 700mhz, a 10c temperature drop is claimed over the stock clocked 602mhz GTX280. This makes the OC HydroGen 280 the fastest  pre-overclocked GTX280 available and perhaps more importantly, faster than the recently reviewed GTX285. This is achieved by using a full cover waterblock which cools all the main components while remaining just single PCI thickness.

Obviously adding a copper full cover waterblock is not cheap and thus the price of £359.99 is £50 more expensive than the cheapest GTX285 we could find. However, if all out performance is what you want and you already have a water-cooled system then serious consideration should be given to this card.

Here's what MSI had to say:

10 Degrees C Lower than GeForce® GTX 200 fan thermal solution via the massive contact surface increase brought by micro channel technology, MSI N280GTX OC HydroGen series successfully runs the world highest core clock setting at 700MHz, but surprisingly has 10℃ lower temperature level than normal fan cooling GeForce® GTX 200 series even at full workload.

1-Slot ultra slim tank design Ready for 3-way SLI!

MSI achieves this with only 1-slot thick HydroGen micro channel water cooling tank. This makes a multiple graphics setup in single system possible, even with all the water cooling accessories together.

Specifications


The differences between the three high top end GPU's from Nvidia are small but significant nonetheless and could have a major impact on the results of our benchmarking.
 
 GTX 280
GTX 285GTX 280 Hydrogen
Fabrication
65nm55nm65nm
GPU Size576 mm²470 mm²576 mm²
GPU Frequency602 MHz648 MHz700mhz
Shader Frequency1296 MHz1476 MHz1400 MHz
Memory Frequency1107 MHz1242 MHz1150 MHz
Memory Interface512 Bit512 Bit512 Bit
ROPs323232
TMU's808080
Stream processors 240240240
Memory1024Mb1024Mb1024
Memory bandwidth140,7 GB/s159,0 GB/s141,7 BG/s
 
As we see, MSI have increased both the memory and shader frequencies to better feed the core. With a whopping 100mhz overclock on the core itself, we expect great things from the HydroGen and it will be interesting to see if the extra 50 MHz is enough to dethrone the GTX285.

Let's take a look at the packaging and the card itself...

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Most Recent Comments

22-01-2009, 06:20:39

JN
"Pre-overclocked graphics cards are nothing new but pre overclocked AND watercooled cards are something of a rarity. Can it compete with the GTX285?" - by Webbo

http://www.overclock3d.net/gfx/artic...140623547s.jpg

MSI N280GTX OC HydroGen

22-01-2009, 06:27:47

premiumgfx
Impressive performance for a GTX 280! And the card has an interesting heatsink.

22-01-2009, 06:49:06

moogle
First time I seen a fine machined waterblock from a watercooled ready gpu manufacturer. Looks like it cools well too

22-01-2009, 06:50:55

JN
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='moogle'
First time I seen a fine machined waterblock from a watercooled ready gpu manufacturer. Looks like it cools well too
Agreed. I'd actually prefer that block (in terms of looks at least) over anything that EK could offer.

22-01-2009, 06:57:23

VonBlade
Stunning performance. It's so nice to see proper paste instead of that awful white goop too. But wow what a huge performing card and block.

Shame about the bracket. The devil is in the details.

VB

22-01-2009, 10:58:36

zak4994
Have you tried overclocking past the limits?

At 40C that is so cool.

22-01-2009, 11:02:37

moogle
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Jim'
Agreed. I'd actually prefer that block (in terms of looks at least) over anything that EK could offer.
It does cover more of the card than the EK's. I do like that

Quote:
Originally Posted by name='VonBlade'

Shame about the bracket. The devil is in the details.

VB
Dremel anyone?

Or can't you buy a single bracket that will fit on it. Only problem is I think there is an LED indicator on the 2nd grill part of the bracket, so you'd have to take that off.

22-01-2009, 11:07:05

Luigi
Those blocks are awesome.. I believe Aqua-pcs may be stocking them soon, not too sure though.

22-01-2009, 11:08:12

AntiHeroUK
What company manufactured the blocks for them. Reminds me of aquagraFX blocks a bit.

22-01-2009, 11:08:26

soapsupah
wow, loved that block pretty cool , and great performance, +1 for MSi. , also wc it wont obviously wont void warrantry

thanks for the review jim, pretty cool one

Soap.

22-01-2009, 11:10:29

Luigi
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='AntiHeroUK'
What company manufactured the blocks for them. Reminds me of aquagraFX blocks a bit.
watercool.de Also known as heatkiller.

22-01-2009, 11:16:25

moogle
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='AntiHeroUK'
What company manufactured the blocks for them. Reminds me of aquagraFX blocks a bit.
It does doesn't it. I can't find the GTX280 blocks on their site though

22-01-2009, 11:18:47

AntiHeroUK
Thanks Luigi.

22-01-2009, 11:34:47

HypoglossalXII
How do you reckon MSI's water cooled 260's compete against the BFG variant? Granted there are marketing terms like MAXCORE and thermointelligence used, but do these actually play any part in making the cards have more bang for their buck?

-HypoG

22-01-2009, 11:35:45

Luigi
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='HypoglossalXII'
How do you reckon MSI's water cooled 260's compete against the BFG variant? Granted there are marketing terms like MAXCORE and thermointelligence used, but do these actually play any part in making the cards have more bang for their buck?

-HypoG
Not more bang for buck, but for first time water coolers its much safer than possibly breaking your card.

22-01-2009, 11:56:31

moogle
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='HypoglossalXII'
Granted there are marketing terms like MAXCORE and thermointelligence used, but do these actually play any part in making the cards have more bang for their buck?
Just sounds like a bit of marketing cow poo to me. Thermointelligence is just a name for some of their cards with those better than stock air and water coolers and the MAXCORE just means they're the new 216 core cards iirc. Nothing that makes the cards more bang for their buck I think.

I still prefer choosing your own waterblock because when it comes to selling your card, you're limited to a small market of watercoolers rather than everyone (if you had the original cooler).

23-01-2009, 11:38:47

Capn Jack
Hasn't anybody here at OC3D heard of Zotac? They've got a GTX 280 AMP clocked at CC 700, SC at 1400, and MC at 2300 on air! So MSIs N280GTX OC doesn't really impress me. I purchased two of these Zotacs just recently and current OC is 730/1536/2650...still on air! Fan is set to auto and flucs between 40 - 60 with temps rarely getting above 64C. Things are so steady and quiet, I may try pushing Core a little higher. At my current OC, I've even got the Zotac 285 AMP beat!

23-01-2009, 13:16:21

w3bbo
Of course we have heard of Zotac - we reviewed a GTX260 from them already.

MSI also have an air cooled GTX280 available which runs at the same clocks as the warercooled version. Somehow though I doubt it would run as cool, silent or indeed overclock aswell as the HydroGen. I am however, happy to be proven wrong.

23-01-2009, 13:17:28

Luigi
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='w3bbo'
Of course we have heard of Zotac - we reviewed a GTX260 from them already.

MSI also have an air cooled GTX280 available which runs at the same clocks as the warercooled version. Somehow though I doubt it would run as cool, silent or indeed overclock aswell as the HydroGen. I am however, happy to be proven wrong.
agreed with that... The air cooled cards will need more case fans etc to keep them cool, its simply not designed to run at those speeds- This card Is!

24-01-2009, 12:42:05

Trollgaard
"Thermointelligence"... That's what I use when I look out the window and decide to stay inside because it's winter. I have just got myself 2 EVGA GTX280 cards. I would love to get them watercooled at a later stage. And the SLI-Set HEATKILLER GPU-X G200 they have at watercool.de seems spot on when the time comes

08-02-2009, 04:41:11

fruityness
Thats just sexy, I'll have two please.

08-02-2009, 08:01:04

w3bbo
Why stop at two? Get TRI SLI and be a man.

08-02-2009, 11:42:18

fruityness
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='w3bbo'
Why stop at two? Get TRI SLI and be a man.
Oh go on then! Seeing as w3bbo is buying I'll have three then!
Reply
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