The Bundle
    Well, those expecting MSI to put forth a super bundle are going to be disappointed.  Most of the money for this card was sunk into the heatsink (pardon the pun).  As such the bundle is fairly mundane.  A quick install poster, the product manual, product CD/DVD containing drivers and some MSI specific tweaking programs, molex to 6 pin power connector, s-video cable, component break out cable, DVI to VGA dongle, and a DVI to HDMI dongle (plus the digital audio cable to connect from the soundcard/motherboard to the graphics card so it can stream through digital audio from the HDMI connector) are the entire contents of the bundle.  No extra games, no koosh balls, no monitor cleaners, absolutely nothing but the basics.

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The heatsink does not exhaust directly out the back of the computer, but the extra grills do allow airflow from the case (and around the vid card) to exit fairly easily.

    The box has fairly typical artwork for a video card, but the internal packaging is actually quite robust.  A foam surround wraps around the video card, which is protected by both an anti-static bag, as well as a bubble wrap bag.  It would take some significant drops or crushing to actually hurt the card in any meaningful way.  Everything is packed nicely, and shipping damage should not be a concern.  Unless of course the truck it is being delivered on catches fire, or the plane crashes.  Let us hope that these things will not happen for a variety of reasons.

The Testing

    I decided to do something a little different.  Instead of pitting the GTX 285 against the Radeon HD 4890 (don’t let me spoil it, but the GTX 285 is faster), I thought it might be interesting to see where performance lies when competing against two HD 4870 512 MB cards in CrossFire.  We are constantly being asked, “Are two better than one?” and in this case the answer is pretty interesting.

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The power requirements have gone down quite a bit from the GTX 280.  2 x 6 lead power connectors are all that are needed now.

    The price of the N285GTX Superpipe OC 1 GB card is around $350, and $399 for the 2 GB version.  The two HD 4870 512 MB cards come in around $140 average for each, making them $280 in total (some rough math here).

    It is widely known that the GTX 285 is the fastest single GPU card around (for the time being), so setting it up against a fast single GPU card from AMD would be somewhat boring.  Putting two of them up against the GTX 285 is much more interesting, as we can see what kind of performance to expect from modern applications.  We will get a good idea of how memory affects performance (512 MB effective vs. 1 GB), and how well many applications actually scale in performance in multi-GPU situations.  We also can take a good look at power vs. performance for these setups.

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The heatpipes are what MSI is staking their reputation with.  The two outer heatpipes are the “Superpipes”.

    Windows Vista 64 Ultimate was used, but I am certain that by the time the next vid card review rolls around I will be using Win7.  While the Phenom II that I used for testing supports memory speeds up to DDR-3 1600, I set it at DDR-3 1333 because of some instability at the higher speed.

The Setup

AMD Phenom II X4 955 (3.2 GHz)
Gigabyte GA-MA790FXT-UD5P
2 x 2 GB OCZ Platinum DDR-3 1600 Memory (Courtesy of OCZ)
Seagate 7200.11 1 TB HD
Lite-On DVD-R/RW
Corsair TX750 Power Supply
Windows Vista 64 bit Ultimate
Catalyst 9.8 Drivers
Forceware 190.38

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