Today we are reporting on a custom graphics card from MSI that is based on NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 260 Core 216 Graphics Processing Unit (GPU). Officially named the N260GTX-T2D896-OCv3, MSI has added value to the reference GeForce GTX 260 by featuring a custom cooling solution.
MSI N260GTX OC
The GeForce 260 GTX was officially launched in June of 2008. Since that time, NVIDIA has released more powerful GPUs based on the GT200 architecture - the GeForce 260 GTX Core 216, GeForce GTX 275, GeForce GTX 285, and GeForce GTX 295. As MSI only announced the N260GTX OC in March of 2009, they believe that the GeForce GTX 260 Core 216 remains a competitive product.
NVIDIA has done a good job designing effective cooling solutions for their current high-end GPUs, most of which contain well over one billion transistors. As number crunching applications and 3D games make use of more hardware-accelerated GPU features, the number of enabled transistors increases, which results in a greater amount of heat being generated.
As the amount of heat generated by the GPU increases, so do the revolutions per minute (RPM) of the graphics card cooling fan(s). Depending on the cooling solution used, there is typically a threshold where fan noise begins to become a distraction when the GPU is processing a heavy workload. Therefore, custom cooling solutions are always a welcome graphics card feature since they provide better cooling with fewer fan RPMs.
MSI N260GTX OC
The cooling offered by the N260GTX OC is not only effective in lowering GPU temperatures when compared to NVIDIA's reference design, but it does so while producing less fan noise. The N260GTX OC features MSI's "Twin Frozr" cooler with two PWM (pulse-width modulation) fans that are dynamically controlled and theoretically provide two times the level of cooling efficiency.
Twin Frozr Thermal Design
The "Twin Frozr" consists of five heatpipes, two of which are larger in diameter (8mm) and referred to as SuperPipes. Heat is transferred from the heatpipes to the huge heatsink fins underneath the fans, which improves heat dissipation efficiency. Heatsinks are also affixed to the memory modules.
The following table lists the reference specifications for the GeForce GTX 280, GeForce GTX 260 Core 216 and GeForce GTX 260. The MSI N260GTX OC has factory overclocked components. The GPU core operates at a frequency of 655MHz while its 896MB of GDDR3 memory is overclocked from 1,998MHz to 2,100MHz. The GPU contains 216 stream processors clocked at 1,408MHz and the memory to memory controller bus is 448-bits wide.
* Recall that retail prices of graphics cards based on the GeForce GTX 280 and GeForce GTX 260 fell quickly after launch as the result of an updated Radeon lineup from AMD. Early adopters of NVIDIA's latest GPU were even offered rebates from add-in partners as compensation for the price reduction.
The following information is provided by GPU-Z, which is a free utility from TechPowerUp that reports on various characteristics of a GPU.
GPU-Z also reports sensor readings like GPU and circuit board temperatures, fan speed and internal core voltage.
MSI's N260GTX OC has a number of architectural improvements over their previous generation of NVIDIA-based graphics cards.
2nd Generation NVIDIA Unified Architecture: Second generation architecture delivers 50% more gaming performance over the first generation through enhanced processor cores that provide incredible shading horsepower.
Quad SLI Technology: Industry leading Quad NVIDIA SLI technology offers amazing performance scaling by implementing 4-way AFR (Alternate Frame Rendering) for the world’s premier gaming solution under Windows Vista with solid, state-of-the-art drivers.
DirectX 10 Support: Microsoft DirectX 10 GPU with full Shader Model 4.0 support delivers unparalleled levels of graphics realism and film-quality effects for today’s hottest games.
CUDA Technology: NVIDIA CUDA technology unlocks the power of the GPU’s processor cores to accelerate the most demanding system tasks - such as video transcoding - delivering up to 20x performance over traditional CPUs.
NVIDIA PhysX-Ready: GeForce GPU support for NVIDIA PhysX technology, enabling a totally new class of physical gaming interaction for a more dynamic and realistic experience with GeForce.
PCI Express 2.0 Support: Designed for the new PCI Express 2.0 bus architecture offering the highest data transfer speeds for the most bandwidth-hungry games and 3D applications, while maintaining backwards compatibility with existing PCI Express motherboards for the broadest support.
SLI Multi-Monitor Support: Switch seamlessly between multi-display desktop mode and full screen 3D gaming with SLI. And enjoy full multi-GPU support for dual-display capable 3D games such as World in Conflict, Supreme Commander Forged Alliance, and Flight Simulator X.
GigaThread Technology: Massively multi-threaded architecture supports thousands of independent, simultaneous threads, providing extreme processing efficiency in advanced, next-generation shader programs.
16x Antialiasing Technology: Lightning fast, high-quality anti-aliasing at up to 16x sample rates obliterates jagged edges.
128-bit floating point High Dynamic-Range (HDR) Lighting: Twice the precision of prior generations for incredibly realistic lighting effects—now with support for anti-aliasing.
Dual Dual-link DVI Support: Able to drive the industry’s largest and highest resolution flat-panel displays up to 2560x1600 and with support for High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP).
HDMI Output: Support for HDMI output enables sending both high-definition video and audio signals to an HDTV via a single cable.
NVIDIA PureVideo HD Technology: The combination of high-definition video decode acceleration and post-processing that delivers unprecedented picture clarity, smooth video, accurate color, and precise image scaling for movies and video.
Discrete, Programmable Video Processor: PureVideo is a discrete programmable processing core in NVIDIA GPUs that provides superb picture quality and ultra-smooth movies with 100% offload of H.264 video decoding from the CPU and significantly reduced power consumption.
HDMI with Audio Integration (Optional): The NVIDIA GeForce 200 Series supports HDMI with audio integration solution. With a DVI-to-HDMI adapter and an extra signal cord through the bracket, an audio source from the sound card (S/PDIF) can be integrated into the HDMI interface by plugging the cord into the pinhead located on graphics card.