MSI launches water-cooled N580GTX HydroGen

MSI has officially announced its latest take on the Nvidia GTX580 reference design, replacing the phase-shift cooling system with a waterblock for those who like to push their systems to the limit.

The MSI N580GTX HydroGen/OC is a single-slot board packing 1,536MB of GDDR5 memory running at a 4,096MHz equivalent speed on a 384-bit bus and an Nvidia GPU running at 800MHz. While the specifications aren't anything to be surprised about, it's the cooling system that makes this model stand out from the crowd.

Featuring MSI's own HydroGen-branded all-copper waterblock, the board takes up just a single slot - making it perfect for tri-SLI systems that need to pack three 580GTX boards into a small space. MSI's justifiably proud of the HydroGen's micro-channel design, claiming that tests showed a 24℃ drop in temperature over the stock cooler.

Overclockers will be delighted to hear that the board also comes with MSI's aluminium-cored capacitors, which the company claims boast a ten-year lifespan under full load and offer higher efficiency with a lower heat output than its rivals' versions. As with previous MSI boards, the N580GTX HydoGen includes the Afterburner overclocking package developed in conjunction with software specialist Rivatuner.

The small size of the design, which takes up two blanking plates despite its single-slot size, does mean that MSI has had to skimp a little on connectivity: while a pair of dual-link DVI ports are included, the standard HDMI port has been replaced with a smaller mini HDMI version - meaning you'll have to use an adapter dongle if you want to use a standard HDMI cable with the board.

While benchmarks and cooling performance statistics are not yet available, the card certainly looks like it could offer some serious competition in the high-end graphics market.

The card's retail price of around £585 makes it cheaper than other watercooled GTX 580 designs from manufacturers such as EVGA, but still more expensive than a stock card and a third-party waterblock. That said, the convenience of having a manufacturer-approved waterblock pre-fitted with no warranty implications isn't to be sniffed at - and if you're thinking of making a tri-SLI GTX 580 system, money isn't likely to be a concern.

The board, launched today, will begin to appear in retalier's inventories over the next few days.