The RTX 4090 is, to no one's surprise, a massive card, the 16,384 Cuda cores get a bit hot, so therefore the cooling is also fierce, and more and newer Stream processors, RT and Tensor cores don't make it any less hot.
MSI obviously has the solution, which is to make a minimal card, and then have the primary cooling external. That means a fixed 240mm AIO is included that has two 120mm MSI MEG Silent Gale P12 fans mounted to cool down the 24GB DDR6X VRAM. Incidentally, the two fans are made a little fun with angled fan blades and rubber gaskets on all corners.
The card itself has a single fan that is side-lit with white LEDs, which along with the aluminum top and gold accents on the side, give the impression of a grown-up, well-designed and professional graphics card - I might even say that I like this design better than Nvidia's reference design, and the white LEDs just add something very stylish to the aesthetic look you very rarely see with graphics cards.
The card takes up quite a bit less space, 24x12x4.3cm, but due to the external AIO, still weighs the same as other RTX 4090 cards, maybe even a bit more. But because the card is just smaller, there's actually room for the silly 16-3x8 pin adapter that comes with it, and which I use since I refuse to spend £300 on a PCIe 5.0 power supply just to be able to test a graphics card.
Such a gadget isn't cheap, £2400 you have to drop, despite being significantly cheaper than the Gaming X Trio edition, it's very far from the most expensive, yet one of the only liquid-cooled cards on the market. On the other hand, you can then switch between Silent Mode and Gaming Mode as it's a Dual BIOS card, and just there you can save 30 watts. On the other hand, you then get a boost clock of 2625Mhz, and there's even an Extreme Performance Mode that can only be activated via the MSI Center software, where you get an extra 15Mhz - I have to be honest and say I didn't bother.
2x120mm extra fans plus the one on the card do matter, and unsurprisingly you had to use a low profile pump for it to fit - it does however work impeccably and quietly.
As expected, a pure copper base of solid thickness is used, making contact with both the GPU and VRAM. The Torx 5.0 fan on the card itself is also surprisingly quiet.
We didn't have the card on loan for that long, but there's definitely potential for some overclocking, not much, MSI has already pushed the card quite a bit - but enough that it's fun to play with yourself.
28.3 degrees was idle temperature - that's really impressive, but on the other hand its highest measured temperature was 63 degrees.
Speedway: 9962 - which is the highest score we have seen so far
Time Spy: 29178
Eime Spy Extreme: 177796 (which is 1000 higher than standard 4090 cards)
DLSS 3: 57.46 / 197.36 FPS (Native vs DLSS 3)
Port Royal: 25391
Blender BMW render:
CUDA Score: 416445
OpenCL Score: 341658
Vulkan Score: 177382
Fps test is measured at macro settings. In addition, DLSS is set to performance and DLSS 3 if possible.
Total War: Warhammer III
Assassins Creed Valhalla
Far Cry 6
The Division 2
However, there is clearly a bug somewhere that limits FPS - and it wasn't found until the card had to be returned.
Horizon: Zero Dawn
F1 2022 - DLSS 3
The performance is not debatable, it's better than all the other RTX 4090 cards we've had, but it comes at the cost of being expensive. The extra cooler is quickly becoming a problem, not unsolvable, but it is a problem. The card never got hotter than 63 degrees, no matter how hard it was pushed, so there is potentially something more to come in terms of overclocking, as it is just water-cooled.
So should you buy it? Yes, if you want to be able to overclock, want the last percent, and can't/won't do custom cooling in your system, but still want a fully water-cooled CPU/GPU.