Card Layout and Photos
So MSI has followed the trend of going completely color neutral and using RGB lighting to set the color of your card with the RTX 2060 Gaming Z. With this design, it means a medium grey used around the fans and then the rest of the fan shroud is a dark grey or black. All of that wraps around the dual fan design of MSI's Dual Frozr 7 cooler. The overall size of the card sticks up over the PCI bracket by an inch but the card itself isn’t that long. It is about a half inch longer than the Founders Edition RTX 2060, but only with the points at the right side of the shroud going beyond the FE. The taller design helps MSI fit in larger fans and you can see that both fans take up a majority of the space. The Torx Fans 3.0 design also has a unique design with a high number of blades and a thin low profile. Half of the blades also have a rib about 1/3 of the way out on the front portion of the blade and there is a similar second row 2/3 of the way out that is less visible because it is only on the inner part of the blades. Looking through the fans we can also see that the heatsink has a staggered raised bumps that I'm speculating that help spread out the airflow across more of the heatsink.
Looking at the card from the top and bottom edges gives us a better look at the heatsink design inside as well. MSI uses a 4 heatpipe design to pull the heat from the GPU itself out across the two different heatsinks. Each is centered under one of the two fans and you can see that both heatsinks form around each component, cap, and connection on the PCB to take advantage of all of the space. Overall the design uses axis fans to blow down across the heatsinks and then because the heatsinks have a vertical orientation it blows that warmed air up or down and out away from the card. You can see the fan shroud allow for that airflow on both the top and bottom. Two of the four heatpipes are continuous, so they run from the end of the shorter heatsink on the right side of the card, down over the GPU itself, then out near the PCI bracket where they turn and go back through the taller GPU side heatsink. Then there are two that only pull over to the right heatsink
A look at the end of the card shows that the fan shroud and cooler both stick out past the PCB at the end of the card by almost an inch and a half. This is a nice area where the fan can blow all the way through the heatsink, but this is also where the Gaming Z gains the additional length compared to the Founders Edition RTX 2060. Funny enough, the PCB while shorter than the cooler is still longer than the short PCB of the FE card. That combined with its extra height show that this is a custom PCB design for MSI. The fan shroud sticks out past the heatsink to cover up the four heatpipes sticking out of the end but it doesn’t wrap around at all, keeping the short shroud height that the rest of the card needs for the air to flow out.
Up on the top edge of the card, the heatsink does wrap around the power connection that sits up on the top of the PCB. People who didn’t like the Founders Editions use of a pigtailed power connection will be happier with this design that is on the PCB. But I should point out that in addition to the card being an inch taller than the PCI bracket, the power connection here is at the top of the PCB, where a lot of companies have started to notch the PCB down in the power connection area when they have tall cards. Doing that means the inch of card height is only using up the space that the power cable will already be using, but in this case, we have to add that to the height of the card and some cases might not be able to fit this design. As for power, well it uses the same 8-pin power connection that the Founders Edition uses, it was oversized for the FE so even with an overclock MSI didn’t need to upgrade this.
Also along the top of the card, the fan shroud does have some branding on it. Near the end of the card, they do have the same GEFORCE RTX branding that the FE has only this time it is just a gloss finish on the flat finish of the shroud, it isn’t lit up. What is lit up though is the MSI logo with the Twin Frozr 7 branding and the MSI dragon. This has full RGB lighting, so no locked green like the FE cards. Personally, though I would prefer to see the model name featured a little here. I’ve never cared about showing what brand of card I have with lighting, but lighting up an RTX 2060 logo I would be down with. This view also gives us a peek at the lighting MSI put around both fans as well with an acrylic panel behind the medium grey panel around each fan.
So funny story, as I write this I have the card right in front of me and when I got to this picture of the back of the card I thought something was wrong with my picture. The card just looks squished and it doesn’t really look that way in person. I even snapped another picture as you can see below but it turns out its just a weird illusion because of how tall the Gaming Z is and with the PCB and with it the backplate being shorter than the length of the card. Now I like the backplate, MSI didn’t use the thick metal of the FE design, but they did use a relatively thick sheet aluminum that they have given a brushed finish. The MSI logo and MSI gaming logo are upside down so they can be seen better when installed. I have to point out though that the MSI logo has a sad pepe look to it when you look at it upside down, I’m not sure I will be able to unsee that now. Anyhow the backplate has a few hockey stick like sections cut out for ventilation and you can get at all four of the heatsinks mounting points around the GPU from the back, even if MSI put a warranty void sticker (which the FTC has said that can’t be enforced).
The PCI bracket for the RTX 2060 Gaming Z is actually surprisingly filled with ventilation. The cooler design doesn’t really push air in this direction, but it does give us a look at how the heatpipes wrap around on this end. Anyhow for actual connections, MSI has cut the VirtualLink Type-C connection as well as the DVI that the Founders Edition has and gone with a three DisplayPort and one HDMI combination. This is actually a normal layout on a lot of modern cards, but I do think dropping DVI here could affect people, a lot of people going with the RTX 2060 could be running older monitors where higher end cards have more people who are more likely to spend the money on newer monitors. The loss of the Virtual Link connection is a little less, but still a loss as well.
I touched on the backlit MSI logo on the top and the lighting at the top and bottom of the grey sections that go around both fans. Well here is a look at all of the lighting in action. It is all using addressable LEDs so it isn’t just one LED color at a time, you can see that even with the stock default they use a color fade. The lighting up under the fans are a little harder to see, especially with the Asus motherboard also having its lighting, but I don’t think MSI went too overboard with its lighting. It’s a small accent on the fan side of the card. I would still prefer just an accent on the top edge or having RTX 2060 lit up over any Nvidia or MSI branding being lit up like here or even on the Founders Edition. But points for MSI not locking us to just one color like Nvidia did with their cards.