MSI N560GTX-Ti Hawk ReviewRHKCommander959 - May 15, 2011
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The GTX 560 Ti GF114 core has a third less transistors than the GF100 core from the GTX 400 cards while improving performance greatly. It is very similar to the design used on the GTX 460's GT104 core although it has 384 Shader Processors versus the GTX 460's 336. The core also has 32 ROPs and 64 TMUs. The GTX 560 is still built on the 40nm fabrication technology at TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company). The reference clocks are 822 MHz core, 1645 MHz Shader, and 4008 MHz memory speeds. The GTX 560 Ti only supports 2-way SLI although performance users could still have a 3rd card for SLI PhysX processing. This series supports Microsoft DirectX 11, OpenGL 4.1 and DirectCompute 5.
MSI has designed the Hawk for performance enthusiasts as well as hardcore overclockers. The clock speeds have been ramped up to 950 MHz core, 1900 MHz Shader, and 4200 MHz memory! That equates to approximately a 15.5% increase for the core and 5% for the memory from factory. The memory equipped is 1GB of GDDR5 from Samsung (model K4G10325FE) and connected through a 256-bit memory bus. These eight ICs are rated for 5.0Gbps speed at 1.455 to 1.545V but has been clocked at 4Gbps so it will be real interesting to see how it overclocks! The heat sink has a copper base with four heat pipes coming through it, all of which is nickel coated to prevent corrosion. Two fans with specialized impellers cool this heat sink, an aluminum shroud holds them and guides the airflow somewhat. The shroud design is nice and clean, the coloration should fit in with most cases and it wouldn't be hard to paint over the small red line to make it fit other schemes. Flipping the card over you can see that all of the memory ICs are on the inner side of the card. At the back of the card are extreme overclocking switches to unlock OCP and aid in extreme cooling. There are eight diagnostic LEDs here as well to show the PWM phase status. Other than that, there are just the typical surface components.
The side shot shows the fan speed switch and BIOS hookup, along with the bracket that keeps the PCB straight. This design works well as the PCIe socket supports the other side, MSI has made it adjustable so this device will likely make its way onto other MSI cards too. Both of the power connectors are side-mounted here along with the typical SLI connection. MSI has decorated the side view nicely. The motherboard side shows the four heat pipes, along with the PWM fan connection to the right. The voltage measuring points are located nearby the fan header.
The card supports dual DVI-I and Mini HDMI outputs, with an adapter for D-Sub VGA and another for HDMI. Two screws to the left are where the card stiffening mechanism attaches. MSI chose to use blue colored DVI ports. Flipping the card around you can get a good look at the voltage measurement points, along with a look at the memory and power cooling plate. Both fans have their wiring run all the way to the fan header rather than spliced together.
The base plate had machining grooves typical of most manufacturers. Lapping the base would be easy but it would remove the nickel plating and won't really help performance much since the GPU core is still protected by the IHS. Two screws hold each mounting bracket to the heat sink suggesting that the design could be easily deployed on other cards with different spacing. Four screws hold the fan shroud to the heat sink, and another three screws hold each fan to the heat sink. Three screws hold the stiffening bar to the video card, two on the I/O panel and one pivoting screw near the power connections. Five more screws hold the plate that cools the memory and power circuits.
Removing all of the items off of the card we can get a good glimpse at the board itself. You can see the rows of chokes, capacitors, and MOSFETs that transfer power to the rest of the card. Thermal pads are used to conduct heat away from the components. The stiffening bar has an adjustable length by loosening a screw. This is unnecessary for users as it is already set to the proper length. As the thermal pads show from the indentations left from components, most of the thermal plate design is focused on cooling the power delivery circuitry with the mounting pressure focused on that region as well. The memory is still cooled although the pressure there is much less focused.
First up here is a close up of the BIOS fan speed switch and SLI connection. The GTX 560 Ti specifications show that it can only support 2-way SLI. Whether or not that is true remains to be seen. The switch has three positions with the right being "reserved", center for Silence mode, and left for Performance mode. The second photograph highlights the two power connections, three voltage monitoring points, and four-pin fan header. The voltage points are for GPU, memory, and PLL in reference to the picture.
Here you can clearly read the IHS covering the GPU core. As stated before, the GF114 is built at TSMC on their 40nm fabrication technology and packs in nearly two billion transistors. The IHS protects the core from being accidentally damaged from improper heat sink installation as the brittle cores can break at their corners. A better solution thermally is to expose the core and surround it with a shim to help prevent damage. This provides the best heat transfer while still offering a good amount of protection. The memory is produced by Samsung, model K4G10325FE-HC04 and is rated for 5.0Gbps at 1.455 to 1.545V. On this card, it is clocked at 4200 MHz, 192 MHz over NVIDIA reference speeds.
Time to move on to the specifications and features page!