No sooner have I sung the praises of Sapphire for having crammed two HD 2600 XT chips onto one card than MSI goes and raises the bar to a whole other level. Not only have the team there also succeeded in creating a dual-chip graphics card, they’ve also managed to design a cooler that will passively cool the card giving you complete silence as well as stellar performance.
As the card was confined to its cabinet, we couldn’t get a good look at it but, from what we could see, it appears to use a similar cooler to that found on the XFX Fatal1ty 7600 GT. A pair of heatpipes draw heat away from each graphics core and into a large radiator made up of an array of thin aluminium fins mounted on the back of the card. This design seemed to work well for the Fatal1ty card so I don’t see any reason it shouldn’t work just as well when doubled up for a dual card. You will need to make sure you have some good ventilation in your case, though. However, because of the size of the cooler, the card actually takes up three expansion card slots so upgrading, and potential for quad Crossfire, is going to be very limited.
It’s quite obvious the cards have been designed completely independently as MSI's version has the two chips rotated to a 45 degree angle and mounted in line with each other whereas Sapphire have kept the two chips flat but offset from each other. Which design is better remains to be seen but one thing is clear, the MSI card is a good half inch (it’s hard to tell exactly as the two photos are taken at different angles) taller than the Sapphire version. Also, the MSI card has only two DVI outputs as compared to Sapphires four.
All in all, MSIs dual HD 2600 XT graphics card does look like an impressive piece of engineering but, personally, I don’t see where the market for a passively cooled, supersized graphics card lies. What do you reckon?