MSI HD R5770 Hawk Reviewjlqrb - February 21, 2010
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The first thing you will notice about the MSI HD R5770 Hawk graphics card is the Twin Frozr II dual-fan cooler. This cooler has a large copper base that is coated with Nickel, three heatpipes that efficiently transfer heat from the base of the cooler to the fins and uses dual PWM fans that blow though the fins to remove the heat. MSI claims with the use of this cooling solution the Hawk should run about 13c cooler than a card using ATI's reference design. Another benefit over the reference cards is the unique and appealing look the Twin Frozr II adds, which really helps it stand out from other cards in the series. Like other HD 5570 graphics cards the MSI HD R5770 Hawk is a dual slot design and will require two open expansion slots to proper fit into a case. The Hawk comes equipped with PCIe 2.1, but is fully compatible with older PCIe slots - this will ensure there are no compatibility issues when upgrading to this card regardless of what version of PCIe your board uses. This card also supports CrossFireX which will allow for additional graphics cards to be connected together for added gaming power. To run CrossFireX, the HD R5770 Hawk uses a single CrossFire connector instead of two. Even with the use of one connector, this setup will still work the same as other cards out that have two CrossFireX bridge connectors.
When it comes to expansion, the MSI HD R5770 has more than enough ports to satisfy most users. There is a DisplayPort and DL-DVI-I port that are both capable of running at 2560 x 1600, and there is also an on-board HDMI port that has a max display of 1920 x 1200 and comes with Dolby® TrueHD and DTSHD Master Audio Support. With the use of these ports, the HD R5770 Hawk can run up to three monitors utilizing ATI's Eyefinity technology, with a max resolution of 5670 x 1200 spanning the three screens. Missing, however, is the dual DVI-I configuration found on other HD 5770 graphics cards. This could make setting up Eyefinity a bit more complicated than other cards on the market that use dual ports. Turning to the back you can see the HD R5770 Hawk requires the use of an additional power source beyond that of the PCIe slot, this additional power is supplied by a single 6-pin power adapter that is situated under the rear portion of the heatsink. Even with the extra needed power connection, the HD R5770 Hawk is not a excessively power hungry and MSI has the card running at around 120 watts while at full load.
The HD R5770 Hawk uses the Juniper (RV840) core, which comes with rather impressive specifications considering it is a mid-range product. The Juniper core is built on 40nm technology, has 800 packed-in Stream Processors, 1.4 billion transistors, 16 ROP units and 40 texture units. The core comes clocked at 875MHz, which is 25MHz faster than the reference models, and there is 1GB GDDR5 memory rated at 1200MHz. The memory uses a 128-bit memory bus, which is half the bandwidth of the more expensive ATI cards, but the effects of this reduction should be minimal with the use of fast GDDR5 memory. The HD R5770 Hawk has eight total memory chips that are manufactured by Samsung, with the model number K4G10325FE-HC04, which seems to be the standard for ATI's 5-series cards. To get a better look at the GPU core and memory, I removed the heatsink and once off you can really see the quality of this card. It has all solid military class components as well as the use of the 7+1 phase design to supply better current throughout the card. The use of these high quality parts should greatly increase the stability, durability, and overclocking potential of HD R5770 Hawk graphics card.
For the hardcore overclockers out there MSI has gone a step beyond other graphics card manufactures and added a few extra goodies to help you reach the highest frequencies possible. The first is an inconspicuous chip that is situated near the CrossFireX bridge connector on the back of the card. This chip with the model number UP6204CJ is a voltage control regulator that will allow for software voltage adjustment to the GPU and will let you over or under volt the GPU from 1.0v to 1.35v, which can be done using MSI's Afterburner overclocking utility. Just like when overclocking your system's memory and processor, extra voltage to that area can mean a higher and more stable overclock. Another feature geared toward overclockers is the V-Check points. These are two headers that will allow you to use the jumpers that are included with the accessories to connect a multimeter, to get real-time voltage readings of both the GPU and memory. Even though the majority of users will not need this function, it is nice to see MSI has included an easy to use tool for those extreme enthusiasts looking to push their hardware to the limits.
Now that we have had a good look at the hardware, we move on to the software, getting us one step close to the performance testing that I know you are waiting for.