Starting from the exterior, the N285GTX Superpipe 2G is a break from the norm in that there are no Goblins, no scantly clad, sword wielding elves nor Spacecraft docking at space stations. Instead what we find is a gloss black box with a picture of the card, specifically the cards cooler, dominating the front of the package. Along with the obligatory Nvidia logos are MSI's own superpipe, OC and 'gaming series' emblems. Flipping the box over to the rear, more information can be found on the main design feature of the N285GTX - Superpipe technology.
Removing the outer sleeve we find that the product is extremely well protected with a front plastic frame covering a Styrofoam and cardboard unit which holds a combination of the accessories and GPU in place. The GPU itself is again, securely packed with not one but two anti static bags, one of which doubles as bubble wrap to further protect the damage not only from physical shock but electrical too. The accessory list is complete with 2x Molex to 6 pin adaptors, video out, DVI and HDMI adaptors, S/PDiff cable, 2 manuals and a driver CD. I would have liked to have seen a flexible SLI bridge included and perhaps a game but these, especially the game would no doubt increase the already high price of this product further.
Here we see the card itself or more appropriately, the gigantic cooler which dominates the visual appeal of the graphics card. The two 80mm fans are smoked acrylic in appearance but sadly do not light up when powered. Both of these fans run off one header which is spliced together so the fans will not run independently of one another either. Perhaps most bizarrely, the PCB MSI have chosen to use is red, which we all know is synonymous with Nvidia's nemesis, ATI. A strange choice indeed and one which might upset stout Nvidia fanboys.
Despite the aftermarket cooler, MSI could not manage to cram all that cooling into a single slot design. While the top of the cooler is a very attractive Gun metal grey/brushed aluminium effect, the heatpipes are what I would describe as dark chrome in appearance. The heatpipes look fantastic but sadly are positioned such that they are, in my humble opinion, on the wrong side of the card as all that beauty will be hidden away once the card is installed. This is a missed opportunity as the visible side of the card is nothing spectacular and quite dull in comparison.
A nice little touch was the inclusion of a modified back plate which has the MSI logo's cut from the steel panel. Again, this panel would have looked better in the same gun metal colour which the rest of the coolers theme is based upon. As you can see from the pic below right, the cooler appears to come in two parts, the finned heatpiped cooler and a separate cooler which on initial inspection appears to cool the memory and power regulators.
Amazingly, despite having 2GB of GDDR3, the MSI N285GTX still manages to keep the PCIe power cables down to two 6 pin cables. Despite the card being one of those special editions which are as rare as hens teeth, MSI have still included 2xSLI tabs for triple SLI use should you be lucky enough to obtain three of these cards. 6GB of GPU power anyone?
Here at OC3D we like to review video cards to the maximum. It's no use reviewing a card and then not taking a look at what's hidden underneath. That would be like taking Megan Fox (Google her) for dinner and declining to go back to hers for erm...coffee! Stripping the card of it's outer clothing, we come to the almost naked card with just the lingerie remaining in the form an aluminium cooling plate. This plate is attached to the card and cools the SLI chip, VRM's and the whole 2GB of GDDR3. Getting this girl totally naked, we see all of her beautiful body in the flesh.
The full rack of 128MB integrated memory chips made by Hynix surround the main G200 Nvidia core, which like it's brethren is shielded by a huge nickel plated copper integrated heat spreader. The gunk MSI used is the typical paste which most manufacturers seem to use these days which has the viscosity of a crushed banana for want of a better description. That said, the coverage was very good and didn't appear to be too much nor too little paste applied.
Here we see the base of the heatspreader which appeared to be very flat and had a dull shine to it. The 5 heatpipes (3x6mm and 2x8mm) are welded to the top of the baseplate which should give good heat convection and cool the card down enough to allow some good overclocks over and above what the card is already clocked at. Below right we see the 12 Mosfets and 6 chokes are spaced evenly across the PCB all of which are cooled by the aluminium baseplate and transfer heat by means of thermal tape. The card also features full solid capacitors which will serve to lengthen the lifespan of the graphics card.
All in all a very good looking card. I'm still not sold on the red PCB, I feel a black PCB would have worked better here matching the gun metal grey and dark chrome heatpipes better, however the red PCB will certainly distinguish the N285GTX Superpipe 2G from other cards around, even if the massive heatpiped cooler doesn't do that already!
Let's now take a look at todays test setup which we will be using to put the graphics card through its paces...