Cooling the MSI way
NVIDIA made a smart move by introducing the GeForce GTX 560 graphics card at a sub-£150 price point. Taking much of the goodness from the classy GTX 560 Ti but chopping the retail price by around 20 per cent, this mid-range card duels it out against AMD's Radeon HD 6870 and, to a lesser extent, the Radeon HD 5870.
But partners have been encouraged to launch wholly-custom cards with company-specific heatsinks and frequencies of their choosing. A quick look at various partners' offerings shows huge variations in speeds and prices, ranging from £145 through to £235. MSI is looking to tap into the potential of the GTX 560 with the overclocking-orientated Twin Frozr II card.
Cooling a mid-range GPU isn't difficult for decent heatsinks. MSI goes overboard with the four nickel-plated heatpipes that attach on to a copper base. The two 6mm and a couple of 8mm heatpipes are in turn connected to aluminium fins running the length of the card.
A couple of 80mm fans push heat away from the fins but, strangely, not directly through the rear of the card. Rather, hot air is generally left to circulate around the chassis, meaning you'll need good internal airflow to maximise the benefits of the cooling. Peer down through the heatsink and MSI leaves the 1GB GDDR5 memory uncovered, with the hope that the airflow generated by the fans will keep the memory chips cool.
But there is specific cooling for the power-regulation components on the right-hand side of the Frozr II/OC. An aluminium heatsink, next to the solid ferrite caps, is screwed-in one side and wraps around the PCB on the other.
While we've seen partners go for the jugular and crank up GTX 560 speeds to 950MHz core and 4,500MHz memory, MSI plays the game rather safely - conservatively, in fact. Clocked in at 870MHz core and 4,080MHz memory, MSI encourages you to push the card farther through the use of its rather nifty Afterburner software, which enables the voltage - once it has been unlocked in software - for the GPU to be adjusted from 0.825V through to 1.087V (1.012V default).
You can't go too far wrong with two dual-link DVI and a mini-HDMI port.
There's nothing radically new here with the Frozr II OC, but, really, there doesn't need to be. MSI grabs all the know-how of cooling mid-range GPUs and plonks it on this card. Priced from £160, which is below the current retail price of most GTX 560 Ti cards, MSI has a decent balance of features vs. cost.