MSI N260GTX-T2D896 OC V3 Reviewccokeman - July 22, 2009
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On first glance you notice that this isn't your ordinary reference GTX 260. The tip-off is the massive cooling solution that contains 5 heatpipes and two fans to keep the OC V3 cool, something needed with a factory overclocked video card. A reference card comes with clock speeds of 576MHz on the core, 1242MHz on the shader clocks and 999MHz on the GDDR3 memory. MSI has built this card to run at higher clock speeds of 655MHz on the core, 1408MHz on the shader procesors and 1050MHz on the 896MB of GDDR3 memory. The clock speed increases are pretty substantial. The N260GTX OC V3 is PCIe 2.0 compliant and offers support for Physx, Cuda and PureVideo HD technologies. The 360 view shows that the card is to used in a 16x PCIe slot and that the cooling solution extends the length of the red PCB. A black PCB would have given the card that "look".
The front end of the card contains the connectivity to the display. For options there are two DUAL Link HDCP capable DVI ports and an HDTV out port. To run an HDMI video and audio signal through this card, you will need to use a DVI to HDMI adapter. You will notice that DVI ports are blue and are what MSI calls DVI Mazarine outputs. These ports allow an HDMI signal to be output at resolutions of up to 1920x1200 instead of 1920x1080. On the mounting brackets are also a little different. Instead of just slotted vents MSI has put their logo in place of most of the slots, which may allow more airflow through the back of the card and chassis. On the back end of the card you can see part of the cooling plate that both stabilizes the PCB as well as acting as a heatsink for the memory and voltage regulation circuits. This plate uses a pin fin method of heat removal, much like that seen starting on the ATI HD 3000 series cards. MSI uses solid capacitors on the OC V3 for an extended lifespan.
Since the motherboard cannot hope to supply enough voltage to run this card additional power is required in the two 6 pin PCIe power connections on the rear spine of the card. Next to the power connections, is the SPDIF digital sound input. You would connect this port via a two-wire harness to the digital output of your sound device. Just like all of the GTX series the OC V3 is both two and three way SLI capable by connecting the cards together via the bridge harness. It would be interesting see how three of these cards do in Tri SLI.
To remove the heat from the GPU core and board components MSI has taken a two part approach. First is the use of a massive heatsink that uses 5 heatpipes attached to a fin array to pull the heat from the GPU core. The contact plate was coated in a liberal amount of TIM and made good contact with the GPU core. Once the heat is in the fin array it has to go somewhere so MSI has employed two fans to supply cool air through the heatsink. Once the heatsink is removed the second part of the cooling approach can be seen. The cooling plate covers the memory and all of the heat generating components on the PCB and is cooled via airflow from the two fans. The plate is held on by screws but the thermal interface appears to be a tape not just the pads you see on a reference card. The top of the plate has both pin fins and regular fins to increase the surface area and heat dissipating properties of the plate.
The GPU core on the MSI N260GTX OC V3 is a B3 revision. The GT200 core features 216 shader processors running at 1408MHz while the memory used on this card is GDDR3 made by Samsung and is rated for operation at 1000MHz. Even with this spec there is usually some serious headroom above the 1000MHz rating.
After a quick look, let's get this card installed and see just how well it performs!