MSI NX8800GT Zilent review

Price when reviewed

MSI’s NX8800GT Zilent is based on the standard 8800 GT core, but it’s fitted with a taller Zalman heatsink and fan in place of the stock cooler. The idea is to provide quieter, and more effective, cooling.

MSI NX8800GT Zilent review

It works, too. The 75mm Zalman fan isn’t much to look at, but at its standard speed of 1,700rpm it’s barely audible, and certainly won’t be heard when tucked away in a case.

Even when you push the card hard, and the fan spins up to its maximum speed of 2500rpm, it’s very little louder. The standard 8800 GT isn’t the loudest card in the world, but when the going gets tough the Zilent is distinctly quieter.

Though the NX8800GT is marketed with an emphasis on quietness, cooling performance is impressive too. When we pushed a stock 8800 GT to the limit in our most demanding Crysis benchmarks, its core temperature went up to 87C. MSI’s more efficient cooler kept the card below 50C.

That means you’ve got plenty of thermal headroom for overclocking – and, as if to demonstrate this, the card comes with the core clock speed already upped from the standard 600MHz to 660MHz.

Although the GeForce 8000 series is gradually giving way to the newer 9000 cards, the 8800 GT is built on the same G92 core as the GeForce 9800 series, and remains a competent card.

Our low and medium-detail Crysis benchmarks were dispatched with ease, and even high settings were playable at 27fps. This is a card that’ll rise to all but the most demanding occasions – though at heart it’s still an 8800 GT, and is inevitably overshadowed by newer top-end cards with more bandwidth and a higher shader count.

For the casual gamer, the NX8800GT’s reduced noise and better overclockability are appealing, but they don’t justify the price premium of nearly £30 over a standard 512MB 8800 GT.

Still, it’s not aimed at the casual gamer, but at enthusiasts who take noise reduction and overclocking seriously. If you’re in that camp, the Zilent is about as quick a card as you’ll find in the silent sector.

The MSI NX8800GT ZILENT is available for £134 exc VAT from Quiet PC.

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