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How MSI graphics cards have evolved over the years

MSI graphics card designsImage: Adam Patrick Murray/Foundry

The “gamer aesthetic” is a shifting, nebulous thing. From the transparent plastics of the ’90s to today’s seas of rainbow LEDs and brushed metal, we’ve seen a lot of trends come and go. And so has MSI, specifically when it comes to the designs of their customized graphics cards. On his way to Computex back in June, Gordon swung by MSI’s Taipei offices to check out a huge and fascinating collection of the company’s custom-made coolers, fans, and shrouds.

MSI has a distinctive look to its shroud designs, placing the fans front and center on double- and triple-fan cooler designs. Lately they’ve gone for a distinct octagonal look, but if you go all the way back to the original GTX 260 design from 2008, you can see things were a lot simpler and more straightforward, with an elevated cooler, much smaller fans, and an all-aluminum shroud.

Moving through MSI’s cooler and shroud designs, you can see it progress to larger fans, larger heatsinks, and just generally more robust designs all around. Eventually MSI moved away from the aluminum covers to the more ubiquitous plastics and red-and-black coloring into the 600 and 700 series cards. Moving into the 900 series you can see a lot of the elements that will be familiar if you’ve bought one within the last few years, particularly the “dragon” branding. The Ventus and Evoke lines are far simpler, offering up a nice contrast.

This was a really cool dive into an area of GPU design that doesn’t always get a lot of attention. For more looks at the past and present of computer hardware, be sure to subscribe to PCWorld on YouTube.

Michael is a former graphic designer who’s been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

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