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MSI 8800GTX OC Liquid

MSI 8800GTX OC Liquid Review

Introduction

Nvidia’s 8800GTX has been dominating the high end GPU market for around 6 months now and there has been little variation in this department. However, MSI have now released an overclocked GTX with its own water cooling setup. This is the MSI OC Liquid, let’s see if it can give us some nice numbers.

Specifications

Bus

PCI-E

Core Clock (MHz)
610

Memory Clock (MHz)

2000

Memory Interface

384-Bit

Memory Bandwidth (GB/sec)

86.4

Fill rate (billion texels/sec)

36.8

RAMDACs (MHz)

400

A little about MSI

“Founded in August 1986, MSI has continued to uphold a business philosophy that stresses “Award-winning product quality and outstanding customer service.” MSI specializes in the design and manufacture of motherboards, add-on cards, servers/workstations, barebones, optical storage devices, communication devices and IA accessories. Overcoming a challenging industry environment, MSI have raced to the head of the pack and are now ranked among Taiwan ‘s Top 3 and the World’s Top 5 motherboard manufacturer. Besides, our VGA production has been on the No. 1 position in the world for four consecutive years.

Bits and Box

The front of the OC Liquid box has another Final Fantasy style priestess on it:

MSI 8800GTX OC Liquid Box

The back of the box has the usual D.O.T overclocking explanation along with some multilingual features and explanations.

MSI 8800GTX OC Liquid Box Rear

In the little bundle that MSI gives you with the 8800 you also get a manual, some cables, a couple of DVI to VGA converters, some mounting screws and a full copy of Company of Heroes; not too bad.

MSI 8800GTX OC Liquid Bundle

The 8800GTX OC Liquid

The OC Liquid is huge; even for an 8800. It’s the same length as other GTXs but this card comes with an attached waterblock, pump and a couple of massive heatsinks over the PWM and memory areas.

MSI 8800GTX OC Liquid
The pump and block come pre-attached

MSI 8800GTX OC Liquid Pump

MSI 8800GTX OC Liquid Heatsink

Following the tubing from the pump we find ourselves at the radiator. This rad. is designed to fit at the back of your case behind the CPU cooler. It is the right size for a 120mm fan but should also take a 92mm and an 80mm fan so there is a bit of flexibility with this. However, the radiator is still slightly larger than the average 120mm fan so those without an area slightly larger than a 120mm fan will not be able to install this.

Liquid Radiator

The radiator itself is black in colour and has a large surface area of fins in it. These fins are very flimsy and bend with the slightest bit of pressure so it is best to be careful when handling it. Also, the paint job is a little shoddy in places with the solid “tubing” on the edges of it looking not dissimilar to old wrought iron railings in terms of having several small lumps of paintwork on them (unfortunately these don’t show up in the pictures but I assume you they are there).

Radiator Edges

Radiator

The fan that comes with the GTX is made by a company called Adda and is completely see through which looks quite cool, perhaps an LED or two would have improved the look even more?

Adda Fan

MSI Fan

This 8800GTX, like others, needs twin 6pin PCI-E power connectors to power it.

6 Pin PCI-E

The back of the card shows that even with this monstrous cooler, only a few mounting screws are needed; shouldn’t be any clearance problems with the back of the card.

Mounting Screws

The rear of the card has the standard twin DVI ports.

Twin DVI Ports

Installation

Installation of the card itself was no problem though I did have to remove my HDD cage. The trouble came when trying to get the radiator into the 120mm fan slot at the back of my case. Due to it being a little cramped and a 120mm fitting quite snuggly the radiator’s slightly raised edges caused some clearance issues and I was unable to fit in one of the edges. This was of course no problem for testing as I was able to simply leave the radiator outside the case but for general usage this presents a problem. If you are thinking of buying this card, make sure you check that a 120mm radiator with slight edge extensions of about 8mm will fit.

Installed

Installed Radiator

Installed Radiator

Testing

For graphics card testing we run through a series of synthetic and real world benchmarks and compare the results to previous cards that we have tested. The tests we run are as follows:

3Dmark06, 3Dmark05, 3Dmark03, FEAR benchmark, X3 Reunion benchmark, HL2: Lost Coast benchmark and two different resolutions of our own BF2142 demo (1600*1200 & 1280*1024).

To achieve as accurate a score as possible all tests were run 3 times and the average of the results was taken.

The other hardware I used to test this card was as follows:

Core 2 Duo E6600 @ 2.7ghz
Asus P5W DH Deluxe
OCZ 2gb Special Ops PC6400 @ 900mhz
700w Jeantech Storm

Overclocking

This card was able to able to finish most benchmarks at 650/1000 but some tests were unable to be completed (See “Stability” below).

Stability

Interestingly 3Dmark03 wouldn’t complete a single run through, it would simply crash halfway through the ogre scene and X3 black screened on us a couple of times and never finished testing under overclocked conditions. Similarly HL2: Lost Coast was unbenchable under overclocked conditions, crashing and artifcating frequently enough to make it impossible to bench at those clocks. I will put these problems down to this being a pre-release engineering sample but it is a bit worrying.

Results

3Dmark Results

As you can see the OC Liquid destroys every other card and outclasses the other 8800s by quite a clear margin.

Game Results

FEAR Results

The same trend continues in the gaming tests, though the 8800s fall behind the x1950XTX in X3.

Noise and Cooling

Due to this card being watercooled, unsurprisingly it runs very cool; sub 50c under full load. However, the pump is actually quite noisy. It is slightly audible above system and CPU fans with a slight whining noise. It isn’t exactly loud, but would irritate those aiming for a silent PC.

Cost

For £460 you could probably spend your money better elsewhere. However, if you must have the absolutely best performance then this card is probably a good bet.

Conclusion

The 8800GTX OC Liquid from MSI is grossly expensive and not the quietest of cards; considering it’s watercooled. However the performance is simply staggering and the graphs speak for themselves. If you have deep pockets and want the absolute best performance you can buy at the moment then grab this card but bear in mind that ATI’s latest offerings are just around the corner so price drops could be on the horizon.

Pros Cons
Amazing performance Annoying whining noise
Watercooled – runs cool Very expensive
Stability issues

XSR Extreme Award

I’d like to thank our sponsors QuietPC for providing us with this GPU.

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