MSI N285GTX Superpipe 2G PCIe Graphics card

Introduction

Introduction
 
MSI LogoAnyone else bored of seeing NVidia reference cooling? I know I am. Over the past year we have seen very little innovation from graphics card manufacturers who have seemed content to stick with the tried and tested reference coolers. Not that that's a bad thing of course as the stock cooler on the GTX285 is very good, it's just there is little, bar the price, to separate one product from another. So then, it's great to see that MSI (Micro Star International) have Incorporated a new cooler design to compliment their latest NVidiaGTX285 graphics card.
 
The Twin Frozr thermal design features intelligent dual-PWM fans which change speed depending on the GPU's temperature and load conditions. While this in itself is nothing original as most, if not all GPU coolers have this PWM feature, few cards on the market feature two fans which will give the end user peace of mind should one fan fail. The most intriguing part of the design is the industry leading 5-heatpipe design. Other GPU heatpipe solutions feature up to four heatpipes but by adding a fifth, MSI claim this increases the heat flow from the core to the finned heatsink much more efficiently. This heat, which is spread across the over sized heatsink, is then dispelled by the dual fan design.
 
New cooling designs are no guarantee to increase performance though and for this reason MSI have also incorporated an extra gigabyte of GDDR3 making 2GB in total. In the past, such a huge increase in memory has done little for a GPU. Today however, with the added realism of DX10 and ever bigger and cheaper displays becoming very popular among gamers, large rafts of memory on a GPU are needed if one wishes to run games at the highest possible quality settings.
 
The fun doesn't stop there either as MSI, being an enthusiasts favourite, have also overclocked the GTX285 to take advantage of this new cooler. Let's take a look at the full specification:
 
Graphics Engine: GeForce GTX 285
Bus Standard: PCI Express x16 2.0
Memory Type: GDDR3
Memory Size(MB): 2048
Memory Interface: 512
Core Clock Speed(MHz): 680
Memory Clock Speed(MHz): 2500
Memory Bandwidth(GB/sec): 160
Texture Fill Rate(billion/sec): 54.4
DVI Output: 2
D-SUB Output: 2(via DVI to D-Sub adaptor
TV-Output: 1(via S-Video to Composite)
HDMI-Output: 2(via DVI to HDMI adaptor)
HDTV Support: Y
HDCP Support: Y
HDMI Support: Y
Dual-link DVI: Y
Display Ouput: (Max Resolution) 2560x1600
RAMDACs: 400
DirectX Version Support: 10.0
OpenGL Version Support: 2.1
SLI Support Y
3-way SLI Y
 
As you can see, the MSI GTX285 2G OC edition is overclocked from a stock speed of 648MHz on the core to 680MHz and a slight overclock on the memory from 1242 to 1250MHz. These clock speeds appear very conservative considering the adding cooling this card has so it remains to be seen if the card will overclock any further. Something I will be putting to the test later in the review. For now though let's take a look at the packaging and appearance of the card...
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Most Recent Comments

08-07-2009, 04:20:21

JN
"Could 2GB of GDDR3, a non reference cooler and a pre-overclocked G200 core make the N285GTX the fastest single GPU on the planet? Read all about it in our latest GPU review..." - by W3bbo

http://www.overclock3d.net/gfx/artic...205314306s.jpg

MSI N285GTX Superpipe 2G PCIe Graphics card

08-07-2009, 06:11:12

Rastalovich
Great review.

Firstly I think the card, esthetically, looks awful - and the MSI logo at the rear looks cheesey over classy.

It does appear to hovver over the ASUS 285, and I think here is the thing. Whenever manufacturers add inordinate amounts of memory to a card, it's a marketing gimmick. I feel it's for the non-enthusiast to see it in a shop list and think that 2G is going to be better than the cheaper 1G alts underneath it. Furthermore, I think for 2G to come into play, ur going to need gaming in excess of 2560 - how rare is that ? Some good timedemos like World in Conflict have a meter showing how much memory gets used, that'd be worth looking at.

Excellent move in changing the key descriptions on the graphs, always found it a pita to follow when it ran the other way.

I do feel that benchmarkers prior to 3dmark2006 have had their day. I'd even argue 06 has, but atleast it keeps a foothold in dx9, that unfortunately game devs also have.

I'd class this card alongside the 9400GT 1G releases, the figures are there to look nice in a sales ad.

Very disappointed that the card doesn't blow the ASUS version away with it's alt cooler.

Good stuff.

08-07-2009, 08:40:37

theelusiveyoda
i think it would have been better if they went all black,

recently more products have been black, the red pcb on the Msi Looks a bit out of place on that card. And also the gtx 285 is to high priced for the same price you can buy a 4870x2 or a gtx295 if you know where to look.

08-07-2009, 09:20:17

ali_james
Nice review dude. I think Rast has nailed down my thoughts exactly on the extra memory.

One thing that I don't seem to get, why has nvidia stuck with ddr3 while ati has pushed on and gone for ddr5 and previously used ddr4 as well? Marketing again? The higher number not really meaning anything if ddr3 is still capable even at the real top end price range?

08-07-2009, 10:13:23

Rastalovich
The benefit in real terms is less than ddr2->ddr3.

11-07-2009, 18:36:16

cjone2
Like the cooling but not worth the extra money

18-07-2009, 17:24:13

mighty_moll
Although pricing is an important issue - performance is the deciding factor. I'd love to see how 2 of these cards performed on the bench tests in comparison to the current leading 2 card GPU set-ups.
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