At first glance MSI's NX7900GT-VT2D256E-HD might surprise you. It comes on a red-colored PCB, typically the choice ATI Radeon cards. This move may have been made, more or less, to distinguish the newer VT2D256E-HD supporting HDCP from the earlier NX7900GT models. In any case, it's not the color of the card but the performance of the GPU that we are concerned with. MSI doesn't let us down here, as they have taken the 7900 GT and boosted the default core and memory speeds from 450/660 MHz 500 and 760 MHz, respectively. It's not outwardly noticeable on the packaging that this has been done so, save for the single word "OverClocking" on the front of the box.
A slightly oversized copper heatsink is situated over the GPU and RAM, although the latter is connected by the way of small adhesive pads. It's somewhat dubious about how well these chips are being cooled in this setup, as the RAM does not make a direct connection to the copper of the heatsink. Still, the heatsink is slim and not overly heavy. A smallish fan sits off-center, pushing cooler air through the vents while generating little noise. Airflow is restricted slightly as a row of capacitors runs almost flush with the far end of the cooler.
Removal of the heatsink is straightforward enough - simply remove four screws and it comes right off. In doing so, we reveal the G71 core, covered in some thermal paste and the aforementioned RAM with adhesive pads used to secure the heatsink. The card itself is rather clean - almost all of the transistors and major circuitry are placed at the end of the card where the power connector is found. Finally, as with all of the other GeForce 7 cards, the SLI connector is found just above the memory, an inch or two from the bracket.
As far as the bundle goes, we've got a little bit of good and bad. With the addition of HDCP support, it was incumbent on MSI to provide more than the typical S-VIDEO cable, and they have gone ahead and included a more robust, video component cable. Also included were DVI-to-VGA adapters as well as a 6-pin PCI-e power cable. This is all well and good, and the CDs in the box include a driver CD, a multimedia sampler, and a game. However, said game is Serious Sam II, which was new and cool in 2004. Pushing old games with new hardware just doesn't make much sense other than to promote that "free stuff" mentality amongst buyers. In our eyes, it's doubtful that anyone will make a purchase of the NX7900GT based on its inclusion of this older title.