Determining the effectiveness of the NX8800GT's fan and metal faceplate enclosure in cooling the GPU and memory was done under a load bearing scenario. By default, the fan speed is configured to operate at 29%, which is approximately 1,600RPM.
With the graphics card installed in a closed case, the temperature of the GPU at idle was 56 °C. With the Real-Time High Dynamic Range Image Based Lighting (rthdribl) demo running in an 800x600 window, the GPU reached a peak temperature of 95 °C with the room temperature at 22.7 °C / 73 °F. With NVIDIA's nTune, the fan speed was increased in increments of 10% and the GPU, memory, and ambient temperatures as reported by NVMonitor and Everest Ultimate Edition were recorded. The results are shown in the following graph.
Temperature Test Results
Increasing the fan speed from 29% to 40% provided a noticeable decrease in temperature, which was also the case when the fan speed increased from 40% to 50%. At 50%, the fan is operating at 2,600RPM. At 99%, or 4,300 RPM, the fan was unbearably loud.
A second test was then conducted to determine the point at which I could begin to hear the fan with all the case fans powered down and with all the case fans running at 75%. The results of this test are shown by the shaded area in the graph, which is labeled as the "Optimal Fan Noise to Cooling Zone." At 45%, the fan noise is hardly noticeable and only begins to become noticeable at 50%.
This information was collected using the test PC, but the results would indicate that with a properly ventilated case, an aftermarket cooler is not a requirement in order to adequately cool an overclocked GeForce 8800 GT.
The NX8800GT is an excellent addition to MSI's GeForce 8800 arsenal and is destined to become their best selling graphics card during the upcoming holiday season and beyond. Add-in card manufacturers may experience sporadic inventory shortages however, as demand for the GeForce 8800 GT has exceeded supply since being launched.
Unless the additional memory offered by the GeForce 8800 GTS or GeForce 8800 GTX is required, there is no question that the GeForce 8800 GT is the graphics card of choice for gamers that have a capable processor and wide screen monitor that supports resolutions up to 1920x1200. The MSI NX8800GT fills this role perfectly and a 1GB model might be attractive to those who are considering a move to 2560x1600.
One point worth considering is that we are not really sure what NVIDIA will be doing for an encore. By having released a blazingly fast mainstream GPU using 65nm technology, NVIDIA appears to be in a position to scale performance upwards quickly should AMD's RV670 pose a threat.
Bear in mind that the model tested in this review was overclocked. The $259 suggested price applies to the 512MB GeForce 8800 GT with reference clock speeds, which is still a great value for the price although it will provide less performance. However, with RivaTuner there is always a chance that overclocking a stock graphics card will prove to be beneficial.
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