MSI R9 270X Hawk Reviewccokeman - October 14, 2013
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MSI R9 270X Conclusion:
I have to say that MSI put together a pretty decent package with the R9 270X Hawk, which lived up to expectations for the most part. At stock speeds, the R9 270X Hawk is just faster than the HD 7870 and is easily faster than the GTX 660 in every test run. It even gives the GTX 760 a run for its money in some of the tests. That alone earns the price point of $219 for the R9 270X Hawk. Adding to the performance is easy by overclocking the card with all the built-in features. However, one key piece was not ready in time for launch and that is a version of MSI's Afterburner software that supports the triple voltage control feature that should let this card really fly. Even without any voltage tweaking, the card was capable of running at over 1200MHz on the core and over 1600MHz on the GDDR5 memory, giving the user a boost of 100MHz on the core and 200MHz on the memory without using voltage tuning. Using the V-Check points allowed me to see that there is plenty of headroom left on the core voltage for tuning. That alone is exciting since I want to see where this card will clock to once the voltage control is available to take advantage of the LN2-ready second BIOS.
The other parts of the puzzle are the Military Class 4 components used in the 8+2+1 phase power design that are used to extend the life of the R9 270X Hawk and allow it to run more efficiently with the power it uses. Power creates heat that has to be removed from the components to keep them running and MSI's Twin Frozr 4 cooling solution does a great job of keeping the core and components cool to maximize cooling and ultimately overclocking headroom. At stock speeds, with the BIOS controlling the fan profile, the R9 270X Hawk was within two degrees Celsius of the coolest running card in the temperature tests. When I ramped up the fans to 100%, the R9 270X Hawk was the coolest running card in the comparison field at 51 °C. Small core and big coolers tend to deliver this kind of result! Usually though, you end up with a screamer of a cooling solution, but not with the Twin Frozr 4 design. By using dual 10cm propeller blade fans, MSI is able to reduce the noise penalty even when running at 100% fan speed. Outside the chassis you could barely hear the fans at 100%, while they were inaudible when reduced to around 75%; something to make everyone in the household happy. Dust build-up is always going to cause the fans to deliver less airflow through the heat sink, but MSI fixes this problem by running the fans in reverse on start up to remove the buildup on the heat sink fin array. The benefit of course is diminished if you only turn your computer off once in a blue moon, but not everyone leaves the box on full time and under load.
The display flexibility seen on this card is a win for the AMD camp. Hooking up a three-monitor Eyefinity setup was a piece of cake, with the ability to finally use any of the four display outputs to connect to the display panels. In the past, this required special cards or active adapters to have all three panels live and ready for use in a 3x1 configuration. Using any combination of the four display outputs resulted in a single large surface once I configured the Eyefinity panel in the Catalyst Control Center. At the end of the day, you have to figure out if the benefits of the MSI R9 270X are worth the $219 price point. As far as gaming prowess is concerned, it is faster than its direct competitor, the GTX 660, but the price drops recently revealed by the green camp make the comparison more challenging when you are sticking with a 1920x1080 resolution. Compared to the HD 7870 GHz edition, the R9 270X is faster in each and every game, even when comparing factory-overclocked editions head to head. Pricing may be a wash, as you can find an HD 7870 GHz edition for as low as $150 after rebates, so again it's a tough choice to make when we are talking a 5 FPS max margin. When you look at the feature set on MSI's R9 270X, it has an excellent feature set for long term usage by the mainstream user. It is cool running and quiet with good looks to boot. At 1920x1080, it delivers gaming performance at moderately high settings and comes with a warranty should anything go wrong.
- Low noise
- Military Class 4
- Display flexibility
- MSI Afterburner software not ready