MSI N560GTX-Ti Hawk ReviewRHKCommander959 - May 15, 2011
Category: Video Cards
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NVIDIA has padded the higher ranks well with the 500 series while still serving the low-end. During this time, the manufacturers have come out with new revisions of the higher-end cards such as the GTX 560 Ti. The GTX 560 Ti has 384 CUDA processors and 1GB of GDDR5 on a 256-bit memory bus. Reference Core Clock speed is at 822 MHz, 1645 MHz Shader and 1002 MHz for the memory. PCIe 2.0 x 16 is the standard for NVIDIA connectivity where AMD runs at 2.1 (generally). These cards support 2-way SLI, and a slew of features that NVIDIA has developed. 3D Vision and surround is readily supported along with PureVideo for HD and 3D multi-monitor support. Microsoft DirectX 11 and OpenGL 4.1 are the gaming formats supported.
The card up for review today was provided by MSI and is a variant of their Twin Frozr III dubbed Hawk. This model has been overclocked all the way to 950 MHz core, 1900 MHz Shader, and 1050 MHz memory. Four heat pipes and dual-fans (with special blades) cool the GPU core while a plate with thermal pads cool the memory and power circuits. MSI has designed the card to be easily highly overclocked with features including OVP bypass and two different fan modes can be selected with just the flip of a switch. Voltage can be monitored actively with voltmeters attached to easy access ports near the back of the card for checking core, memory, and PLL voltage. MSI Afterburner has been developed with triple-voltage and clock speed software adjustable capabilities for easier high-end overclocking. 8+1 phase power design and military grade components give a chance for higher overclocking headroom and power stability where other cards could have problems delivering. All of these design implementations make this a great candidate for extreme cooling and high-end overclocking with much more out-of-the-box ease compared to any other card I've ever seen.
The front of the box has a good bit of detail. The background has a Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk stealth plane with the blue possibly being a throwback to the "Have Blue" project codename. Either way, it is interesting and the F-117 is iconic although the plane has been retired for some time. Not the best message to be sending on a product but most people don't realize this non-issue. Blocking most of the plane is a sticker for a free digital copy of Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light which is redeemable on the MSI website. MSI offers a three year warranty to customers in the USA, Mexico, and Canada. This is better coverage than some other manufacturers that limit warranty options to just the USA and sometimes even only the 48 continental states. The center boldly states the card name of N560GTX-Ti Hawk and the specifications of 1GB GDDR5, DirectX 11, Mini HDMI, and Dual DVI-I. The front has a minor typo where it says "Mimi HDMI". The bottom right has a picture of the revised propeller blade design that MSI equipped the heat sink with, claiming that this design is capable of 20% more airflow. The rear of the box has 29 different languages to the right explaining that the card is in the GTX 500 series and supports Microsoft DirectX 11, OpenGL 4.1, DirectCompute 5.0, and NVIDIA CUDA and PhysX technology. The left side lists the features and minimum system requirements. Everything is pretty standard although the CPU recommendations are funny: Pentium 4 or Athlon XP, these would work but would bottleneck the system quite a bit! The bottom has some more information including MSI company address, phone and fax numbers and website address. MSI Live Update 4 is also mentioned, a program that searches for the most up to date BIOS edition for the card and flashes it for you.
The front of the box is a flap. Opening the flap we find the Nighthawk again and a bunch of statistics and information. The first of five panels shows the MSI Afterburner triple voltage panel. The card has been designed to allow core, memory, and PLL voltage to be software adjusted! The card is designed with an 8+1 phase PWM power circuit rated for up to 200A with reference cards having 4+1 and roughly half the output available. A switch near the SLI slot can toggle between Silent and Performance fan modes. The dual fans still throttle with temperature loads. MSI has equipped the Hawk with Military Class II components: two types of capacitors and a choke. Hi-c capacitors that MSI employs are built with a tantalum core capable of high heat dissipation and electrical conductivity while having a low profile in comparison to regular capacitors. These capacitors have a lifespan of 160,000 hrs or 18 years of 24/7 use at 85°C. The solid capacitor MSI has also employed is rated for 10+ years of gaming lifespan at 80°C or less and up to 40 years in office usage scenarios. This capacitor has an Aluminum core and will not explode like cheaper capacitors can. The third component is the Super Ferrite Choke. It is 10% more power efficient and has a 30% higher power capability with lower noise emissions. V-Check Points are three outputs at the rear of the card. MSI included connectable wires with holes that users can insert MultiMeter pins into and watch the voltages. This saves a bit of work for extreme overclockers and is also nice and clean versus homemade measuring points. Under the flap is a window for a sneak peek at the card, along with some details on the cooling mechanisms. The fan blades are said to provide 22.55 CFM, a typo occurs here again "enlarge the angel of airflow". Four heat pipes attach to a copper base plate coated with nickel. The Hawk runs 17°C cooler than a reference GTX 560 and around 1 dBA quieter both of which are significant! (editors note: MSI needs some of the great editors we have on the OCC staff!)
The sides of the box resemble each other, both have the model name and MSI logo and same background, one has the barcode information while the other has pictures of MSI Afterburner, Ready for 3DMark 11, Military Class II components, and NVIDIA CUDA.
Opening the box reveals a plastic cover over a black cardboard box, the video card is protected by foam surroundings fitted to its shape. A notch holds two power adapters as well. Underneath the foam is the rest of the accessories.
The paperwork accessories are a quick user guide that folds out like a poster, Lara Croft CD-Key paper, driver disk, and a general guide detailing the video card's physical characteristics along with installation instructions and software information. The hardware is composed of three voltage measuring wires, two power cable adapters, one DVI to VGA adapter and an HDMI adapter. The card is protected by an anti static bag as always.
Now that everything is out of the box, it is time to take a look at the video card!