MSI N560GTX-Ti Hawk Review

RHKCommander959 - 2011-04-19 15:00:25 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: RHKCommander959   
Reviewed on: May 15, 2011
Price: $264

Introduction:

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.

 

Closer Look:

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!

Closer Look:

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!

Specifications:

Graphics Engine
GeForce GTX 560 Ti
Bus Standard
PCI Express x16 2.0
Memory Type
1GB GDDR5
Memory Interface
256 bits
Core Clock Speed(MHz)
950
Memory Clock Speed(MHz)
4200
Memory Bandwidth(GB/sec)
134.4
Texture Fill Rate(billion/sec)
60.8
DVI Output
2
D-SUB Output
2(optional, via DVI to D-Sub adaptor)
HDMI-Output
2(Optional, via Mini HDMI to HDMI dongle)
Mini HDMI-Output
1
DisplayPort
N/A
Mini DisplayPort
N/A
TV-Output
N/A
VIVO(Video-in/out)
N/A
HDTV Support
Yes
HDCP Support
Yes
Dual-link DVI
Yes
Display Output (Max Resolution)
2560x1600
RAMDACs
400
DirectX Version Support
11
OpenGL Version Support
4.1
SLI Support
Yes
3-way SLI
N/A
Card Dimension(mm)
244 x 116.6 x 37mm
Weight
801g

 

Features:

 

 

 

All Information courtesy of MSI@ http://www.msi.com/product/vga/N560GTX-Ti-Hawk.html

Testing:

The testing consists of running Aliens vs. Predator, Metro 2033, Crysis Warhead, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Just Cause 2, Unigine Heaven Benchmark 2.1, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, 3DMark 11 Professional, 3DMark Vantage and temperature/power consumption testing. Three common resolutions are used for all the tests with 4AA and 16AF settings, but the 3DMark tests have four resolutions/runs. After a run through all the tests, the card is overclocked to roughly its maximum stable capabilities and then tested again. Settings stay the same for each card tested so the results can be compared. All testing is done on similar hardware running 64-bit Windows 7. The charts are all organized in terms of best to worst performance.

 

Comparison Video Cards:

 

Overclocking:

Overclocking the Hawk was very easy. The main limitation was cooling for the power circuitry. I was able to pass most benchmarks at 1050MHz core but it began freezing. In feeling around the card, I found the hottest area to be the backside above the phases. The metal plate isn't the best at dissipating the heat when pushing the clocks further. 1020MHz still wasn't stable enough to pass all testing but 1010MHz was. The memory overclocked outstandingly, nearly 21.5% faster and it still probably could've went higher with better cooling! At 1275MHz it was pushing 163GB/sec bandwidth, stock for this card is around 134GB/sec with factory is at 128.25GB/sec. 1250MHz was rock solid stable for the memory but it was able to run testing at 1275 MHz, not much higher was possible with the stock system though. Testing was ran at 1250MHz to ensure stability, equating to 160GB/sec in bandwidth. For the design, the Frozr III had decent cooling performance but the PWM cooling performed less than my expectations based on the card design. After seeing all of the other features for overclocking that were packed in, I had hoped that there would be sufficient cooling there to allow for higher overclocks. Above 70% fan speed was only worth 1°C difference and a huge noise increase. Core voltage was only bumped up 25mV and 10mV for memory at 1250 MHz while at 1275 MHz they needed 70mV. Personally I would modify the heat plate near the power circuits, adding in some heat sinks with thermal adhesive or some other modification since that seems to be the weak spot. With that done it would also be easier to watercool the core only, possibly with a Peltier or other extreme options.

 

 

Maximum Clock Speeds:

Testing for the maximum clock speed consists of looping Crysis Warhead and Unigine 2.5 for 30 minutes each to see where the clock speeds will fail when pushed. If the clock speed adjustment fails, then the clock speeds and tests are rerun until they pass the full one hour of testing.

   

 

  1. Aliens vs. Predator
  2. Metro 2033
  3. Crysis Warhead
  4. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
  5. Just Cause 2
  6. Unigine Heaven Benchmark 2.1
  7. Battlefield: Bad Company 2
  8. 3DMark 11 Professional
  9. 3DMark Vantage
  1. Temperature
  2. Power Consumption

Aliens vs. Predator, developed by Rebellion Developments, is a science fiction first-person shooter and is a remake of its 1999 game. The game is based off the two popular sci fi franchises. In this game, you have the option of playing through the single player campaigns as one of three species, the Alien, the Predator, and the Human Colonial Marine. The Game uses Rebellion's Asura game engine that supports Dynamic Lighting, Shader Model 3.0, Soft Particle systems, and Physics. To test this game I will be using the Aliens vs. Predator benchmark tool with the settings listed below. All DirectX 11 features are enabled.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

Performance was right around the GTX 470 level, just as it should be since this card is its replacement. It wasn't far behind the GTX 570 and GTX 480 either and beat the XFX HD 5870 as well!

Testing:

Part first-person shooter, part survival horror, Metro 2033 is based on the novel of the same name, written by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. You play as Artyom in a post-apocalyptic Moscow, where you'll spend most of your time traversing the metro system, with occasional trips to the surface. Despite the dark atmosphere and bleak future for mankind, the visuals are anything but bleak. Powered by the 4A Engine, with support for DirectX 11, NVIDIA PhysX and NVIDIA 3D Vision, the tunnels are extremely varied — in your travels, you'll come across human outposts, bandit settlements, and even half-eaten corpses. Ensuring you feel all the tension, there is no map and no health meter. Get lost without enough gas mask filters and adrenaline shots and you may soon wind up as one of those half-eaten corpses — chewed up by some horrifying manner of irradiated beast that hides in the shadows just waiting for some hapless soul to wander by.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

The Hawk kept switching positions with the XFX HD 6950. As the resolutions grew, it managed to beat it. Results were similar to the last benchmark. With this performance, it is hard to justify buying a GTX 570.

Testing:

Crysis Warhead is a standalone expansion pack situated in time with the story line of the original Crysis. As Sergeant "Psycho" Sykes, you have a secret mission to accomplish on the far side of the island. Along the way there are EMP blasts and aliens to contend with, as you hunt down the KPA chief. This game uses an enhanced version of the CryEngine 2.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

The Hawk was able to stick between the 6950 and 6970 at the first two resolutions, but at 2560 x 1600 it lost some ground.

Testing:

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is an iteration of the venerable first person shooter series, Call of Duty. Despite its long, successful pedigree, the game is not without substantial criticism and controversy, especially on the PC. Aside from the extremely short campaign and lack of innovation, the PC version's reception was also marred by its lack of support for user-run dedicated servers, which means no user-created maps, no mods, and no customized game modes. You're also limited to 18-player matches instead of the 64-player matches that were possible in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Despite all this, the game has been well received and the in-house IW 4.0 engine renders the maps in gorgeous detail, making it a perfect candidate for OCC benchmarking. You start off the single player missions playing as Private Allen and jump right into a serious firefight. This is the point where testing will begin. Testing will be done using actual game play with FPS measured by Fraps.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

The Hawk and GTX 570 provide similar performance again. It also switches hands with the 6950 in the resolutions again. The GTX 480 lags behind a few FPS in each resolution despite having a lot more memory and CUDA cores. Showing that the GTX 500 series is more efficient.

Testing:

Just Cause 2 is a third-person shooter that takes place on the fictional island of Panau in Southeast Asia. In this sequel to 2006's Just Cause, you return as Agent Rico Rodriguez to overthrow an evil dictator and confront your former boss. When you don't feel like following the main story line, you're free to roam the island, pulling off crazy stunts and causing massive destruction in your wake, all beautifully rendered by the Avalanche Engine 2.0. In the end, that's what the game basically boils down to — crazy stunts and blowing things up. In fact, blowing things up and wreaking havoc is actually necessary to unlock new missions and items.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

Just Cause 2 has the GTX 560s falling back a little. They still score closely to the 6950 in most of the resolutions.

Testing:

Unigine Heaven Benchmark 2.0 is a DirectX 11 GPU benchmark based on the Unigine engine. What sets the Heaven Benchmark apart is the addition of hardware tessellation, available in three modes — Moderate, Normal and Extreme. Although tessellation requires a video card with DirectX 11 support and Windows Vista/7, the Heaven Benchmark also supports DirectX 9, DirectX 10 and OpenGL. Visually, it features beautiful floating islands that contain a tiny village and extremely detailed architecture.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

Unigine shows the GTX 480 coming out ahead barely. The Hawk keeps up with the 6950 and GTX 570 again.

Testing:

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is a first-person shooter developed by EA Digital Illusions CE (DICE) and published by Electronic Arts for Windows, PS3 and XBox. This game is part of the Battlefield franchise and uses the Frostbite 1.5 Engine, allowing for destructible environments. You can play the single player campaign or multiplayer with five different game modes. Released in March 2010, it has so far sold in excess of six million copies.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

Bad Company 2 favours the NVIDIA cards a bit. At the lower resolutions the Hawk was at the top for single-core performance! At the highest resolution, the GTX 580, GTX 570, and GTX 480 managed to pass it by. The extra CUDA cores seem to be helping out at 2560 x 1600. The AMD 6900 cards were beat by a long shot.

Testing:

3DMark 11 is the next installment for Futuremark in the 3DMark series with Vantage as its predecessor. The name implies that this benchmark is for Microsoft DirectX 11 and with an unintended coincidence, the name matches the upcoming date in number (which was the naming scheme to some prior versions of 3DMark nonetheless). 3DMark 11 is designed solely for DirectX 11 so Windows Vista or 7 are required along with a DirectX 11 graphics card in order to run this test. The Basic Edition has unlimited free tests on performance mode whereas Vantage only allowed for a single test run. The advanced edition costs $19.95 and unlocks nearly all of the features of the benchmark and the professional edition runs $995.00 and is mainly suited for corporate use. The new benchmark contains six tests, four of which are aimed only at graphical testing, one to test for physics handling and one to combine graphics and physics testing together. The open source Bullet Physics library is used for physics simulations and although not as mainstream as Havok or PhysX, it still seems to be a popular choice.

With the new benchmark comes two new demos that can be watched, both based on the tests but unlike the tests, these contain basic audio. The first demo is titled "Deep Sea" and have a few vessels exploring what looks to be a sunken U-Boat. The second demo is titled "High Temple" and is similar to South American tribal ruins with statues and the occasional vehicle around. The demos are simple in that they have no story, they are really just a demonstration of what the testing will be like. The vehicles have the logos of the sponsors MSI and Antec on their sides with the sponsorships helping to make the basic edition free. The four graphics tests are slight variants of the demos. I will use the three benchmark test preset levels to test the performance of each card. The presets are used as they are comparable to what can be run with the free version so that results can be compared across more than just a custom set of test parameters.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

The Hawk puts up another good fight with the 6950. Also at Extreme settings, the overclocked Hawk ties with the stock 6970 run!

Testing:

Featuring all-new game tests, this benchmark is for use with Vista-based systems. "There are two all-new CPU tests that have been designed around a new 'Physics and Artificial Intelligence-related computation.' CPU test two offers support for physics related hardware." There are four preset levels that correspond to specific resolutions. "Entry" is 1024 x 768 progressing to "Extreme" at 1920 x 1200. Of course, each preset can be modified to arrange any number of user designed testing. For our testing, I will use the four presets at all default settings.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

The Hawk comes in really close the 6970 in Vantage. Overclocking allows it to surpass the stock 6970 in all four tests. The GTX 570 leads by a small margin while the GTX 580 has a much larger lead.

Testing:

Temperature testing will be accomplished by loading the video card to 100% using MSI Kombuster, which is paired with MSI's Afterburner overclocking utility for temperature monitoring. I will be using the stability test set to a resolution of 1920 x 1200 using 8xAA. I will use a 15 minute time frame to run the test, ensuring that the maximum thermal threshold is reached. The fan speed will be left in the control of the driver package and video card's BIOS for the stock load test, with the fan moved to 100% to see the best possible cooling scenario for the overclocked load test. The idle test will be a 20 minute cool down with the fan speeds left on automatic in the stock speed testing and bumped up to 100% when running the overclocked idle and load testing. For load testing, the GTX 500 series, I will use Crysis Warhead running at 2560 x 1600 using the Gamer setting with 8xAA looping the Avalanche benchmark scenario, as I have found this to put a load close to that of Kombuster on a video card. This is needed as a way around the current limiting ability of the GTX 500 series when it detects programs that put an unrealistic load on the GPU, which Kombuster does.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

  

Lower = Better

 

The MSI Hawk was able to beat all of the cards at idle stock and overclocked. But the truly important number is load where the Hawk did good but wasn't breaking any records. Fan speed settings past 70% didn't help much so it is possible that airflow wasn't the problem. Perhaps the heat pipes aren't very efficient.

Testing:

Power Consumption of the system will be measured in both idle states and loaded states and will take into account the peak voltage of the system with each video card installed. I will use MSI Kombuster to load the GPU for a 15 minute test and use the peak load of the system as my result for the maximum load. The idle results will be measured after 15 minutes of inactivity on the system. For load testing the GTX 500 series, I will once again use Crysis Warhead run at 2560 x 1600 using the Gamer setting with 8xAA looping the Avalanche benchmark scenario.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

Lower = Better

 

Idle voltage from the Hawk was the lowest out of all of the cards. The Auto PWM switch toggling the phases at idle allowed it to operate at much lower power levels than the others at idle. Load is a different story with the Hawk drawing more power than the ASUS GTX 560 although, it is clocked higher. Components used on the ASUS could possibly have a higher efficiency too.

Conclusion:

The MSI N560GTX-Ti Hawk was definitely impressive! With some minor refinements this card could probably push the core overclocking further and thus improve the already high performance! The card is able to match and sometimes beat an AMD HD 6950 and tie most of the time with the GTX 570 while costing much less than both. Overclocking was able to increase the core speed from 950MHz to 1010MHz stable with stints up to 1050MHz. The memory speed was increased from 1050MHz all the way to 1250MHz with headroom left, a dramatic increase! When pushing the core speed, the back side of the PWM area became very hot and was likely the reason for the smaller core overclock. The voltage measuring points and BIOS performance switch are nice touches for those looking to push the card although, the PWM heat seems to be the only thing limiting further overclocking. Noise wasn't an issue with the card unless gaming for a good length and then it couldn't be heard over the game noise without a silent break. This was on Performance mode. Silence would assist that goal further. Two full DVI-I ports are always nice to see, the third port is a Mini HDMI output that comes with an adapter for regular HDMI. A DisplayPort would have been nice but since the market hasn't had any demand for it, NVIDIA has not yet jumped ship to that medium.

There weren't any real cons for this video card. There were some things that could be improved upon such as the PWM cooling, but overclocking is never a guarantee and the card is already clocked high out of the box. The base had some machining grooves but that doesn't matter when the core is blocked by an IHS anyway. Everything else was good.

A card that comes well equipped with accessories and features is not always easy to find. The Hawk threw down with cards that were supposed to be more capable and even came out ahead in some scenarios while matching them in others. With all of the features this card could easily fit in to the advanced overclocking crowd while still blending in with with regular users and enthusiasts. It has the price and performance ratio covered well. A free game is always a nice added bonus!

 

Pros:

 

Cons: