Not a lot to say about the physical installation of a video card, put it into the PCI slot, secure the bracket by screw or tool-free device, connect PCI-E power cable, and that’s it.
If this is a new installation, merely insert the driver disk after updating windows and installing your motherboard drivers. If this is a replacement card, uninstall your old card and drivers in the control panel prior to installation of the new card, and uninstall any related software, such as Catalyst Install Manager.
I have found that it is much easier to use the driver disk when installing a Radeon card rather than downloading the latest drivers and launching when using Vista. The last couple of versions of Catalyst will update your system without uninstalling the previous version. If you must use downloaded drivers, download both the standalone drivers and the CCC, and burn them on a CD. You may still have some conflicts with Vista installing the generic drivers, so be patient.
The card came with Catalyst version 8-9. I found it interesting as MSI has their own adaptation of Catalyst, and rather than the ATI logo in the tray, MSI’s logo shows up. Not that stuff like that really matters, but I find it pretty cool that a company cares enough to tailor drivers for their products. Later, I found out that after updating the Catalyst drivers, you get the ATI logo rather than MSI’s. Oh well.
Since MSI went to so much trouble to set up a card conducive to overclocking, the least I can do is to check it out. I went ahead and used the supplied drivers, since everything was ready.
Using ATI Overdrive, I was able to take the GPU from 585mHz to the max allowed by Overdrive, 700mHz. I also overclocked the memory to 1050mHz, but I returned it back to 900mHz later after 3DMark Vantage crashed. I decided not to spend any more time overclocking the memory. I ran the stability test in Ozone3D’s FurMark, an OpenGL benchmark that maxes the GPU with a spinning furry doughnut for 30 minutes, with absolutely no artifacts.
At this time I decided to check out the GPU temps to see how well the cooler performs. Idle temps were taken with the rig at idle for 30 minutes, load temps were taken after running FurMark’s stability utility for 30 minutes.
Stock Clock – Idle 33C Load 47C
Overclock – Idle 37C Load 51C
MSI’s cooler with the seaweed fan is very impressive, those are the lowest GPU temps I have seen on a gaming card in quite some time. The above temps were with the fan at stock speed, which is totally silent. Later I found out that the fan is running at 45%.