MSI N280GTX OC HydroGen

System Analysis

Test Setup

To ensure that all reviews on Overclock3D are fair, consistent and unbiased, a standard set of hardware and software is used whenever possible during the comparative testing of two or more products. The configurations used in this review can be seen below:

i7 Rig

CPU: Intel Nehalem i7 920 Skt1366 2.66GHz
Motherboard: Asus P6T Deluxe 'OC Palm'
Memory: 3x2GB Corsair Dominator DDR3 1600mhz @ 8-8-8-24
HD : Hitachi Deskstar 7k160 7200rpm 80GB
GPU: MSI NGTX280 OC HydroGen
Graphics Drivers: GeForce 181.4
PSU: Gigabyte ODIN 1200w
Radiator: Thermochill PA120.3 (3xYL DSL-12)
Pump: Laing DDC18w (XSPC top 1/2")
 
During the testing of the setups above, special care was taken to ensure that the BIOS settings used matched whenever possible. A fresh install of Windows Vista was also used before the benchmarking began, with a full defrag of the hard drive once all the drivers and software were installed, preventing any possible performance issues due to leftover drivers from the previous motherboard installations. For the 3DMark and gaming tests a single card configuration was used.

To guarantee a broad range of results, the following benchmark utilities were used:
 
3D / Rendering Benchmarks
• 3DMark 05
• 3DMark 06
• 3DMark Vantage

3D Games
• Crysis
• Far Cry 2
• Company of Heroes

• Race drive: GRID
• Call of Duty IV
• Unreal Tournament III


Power Consumption

Power consumption was measured at the socket using a plug-in mains power and energy monitor. Because of this the readings below are of the total system, not just the GPU. Idle readings were taken after 5 minutes in Windows. Load readings were taken during a run of Crysis.


 
For the power consumption test I added the additional power draw of the Laing DDC pump + 3 yate loon 120mm fans which were used to cool the radiator. This is in place of the stock aircooler on a standard GTX280 so it comes as no surprise that the watercooled card did, all things considered, draw more power from the socket than a stock GTX280 due to the additional equipment required.


Temperatures

Temperatures were taken at the factory clocked speed during idle in Windows and after 10 minutes of running Furmark with settings maxed out (2560x1600 8xMSAA). Ambient temperatures were taken with a household thermometer. As we use an open test bench setup consideration should be given to the fact that the temperatures would likely increase further in a closed case environment.
 
 
 
Wow. The performance of the waterblock is certainly under question no more. Cooling the card down to such a level demands respect and even when the card was overclocked (see below), the card reported very little increase in temps, maxing out at an astonishing 48c after 5 minutes of Furmark. This is far beyond the conservative drop pf 10c claimed by MSI. At the time of the review, we couldn't test the restriction by any scientific means other than by sight of cavitation in the reservoir which surprisingly seemed unaffected by the GPU block as much as I would have thought.

 
Overclocking

For our overclocking tests I used Rivatuner to overclock the card which is perhaps the most commonly used generic utility to overclock GPU's at a driver level. To test stability, I ran 3D Mark 06 and a few runs of Crysisbench which I confess does not signify true 24/7 stability, however, it does give a good indication of stability nonetheless as heat would be the main enemy. As you can see above, this is not the case with this graphics card.

Stock overclocked
 

As the card was already overclocked past the GTX280 stock clockspeed of 602MHz to a record 700mhz, we did not expect the card to perform much higher than this given that most GTX280's that have passed through our hands reaching a maximum 730mhz. We were wrong. The Overclocking performance of the MSI nGTX OC Hydrogen far exceeded our expectations reaching a maximum 792Mhz on the core before instability materialised. This I feel was a limitation of voltage rather than temperature and I have no doubts that given a few volt mods, the card could easily exceed 800mhz.

We left the shaders linked to the corespeed which also reached an astonishing 1584Mhz. Couple this with a memory overclock of a further 200mhz past the 1150mhz overclock as standard, and this is by far the fastest GTX we have ever come across. Simply amazing.

Let's move on to our suite of benchmarks where we pitch it up against the ATI 4850x2, GTX285 and stock GTX280...

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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 HEATKILLERģ 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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