MSI R9 270X Hawk Review

ccokeman - 2013-10-04 20:56:02 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: October 14, 2013
Price: $219

MSI R9 270X Introduction:

Over the years, MSI has put together some overclocking and enthusiast friendly GPU products with its Lightning series cards and has even worked some magic for the mainstream segment with video cards that do not break the bank and deliver great performance for your dollars spent. Recently, I looked at the Hawk Edition for the green camp, which provided value as well as performance for the mainstream gamer. Now with the introduction of AMD's latest R9 series cards, MSI has worked its magic on another mainstream offering, the R9 270X Hawk. This card features enhancements to the core to support DX 11.2 and the ability to use any of the four display outputs for a 3x1 Eyefinity configuration, as well as compatibility with AMD's new Mantle API.

Outside the AMD specifics, we have to look at what MSI brings to the table to support the architecture. We get MSI's Military Class 4 technology used with the 8+2+1 VRM circuit, enhanced cooling performance thanks to MSI's own Twin Frozr cooling solution with dust removal technology, a dual BIOS switch with the stock 1100MHz/1150MHz Boost profile, and a no holds barred LN2-ready configuration that disables OCP protection and active phase switching to deliver the power to the components for the highest possible clock speeds. Triple voltage control is the third part of the equation, allowing the user to tune the voltages needed to improve overclocking and ultimately gaming performance. Priced at $219, the MSI R9 270X Hawk comes with a price premium over the reference card, but adds so much more to the card for that price point. Let's see what MSI has in store for the mainstream gamer running at 1080 resolutions and see whether it stacks up to the competition.

MSI R9 270X Closer Look:

The packaging for the MSI R9 270X Hawk features the image of an F-117 Nighthawk (or as we commonly know it, the Stealth Fighter) as it is lifting off the tarmac for another mission. Highlights on the front panel show this is a factory overclocked model using the latest R9 series hardware from AMD, supporting PCIE 3.0 and DirectX 11.2. The back panel details the feature set on the R9 270X Hawk, as well as the minimum system requirements for using this graphics card. To the right, the base specifications are communicated in a many different languages to cover the global scope of the brand. The front panel of the package flips open to detail the MSI-specific feature set employed on the R9 270X Hawk. One of the new features is a dual BIOS featuring two profiles, stock and LN2, which invokes active phase switching and disabling of the OCP Protections. Military Class 4 components are used on this card with Super Ferrite chokes, dark capacitors, and tantalum-filled Hi-C caps. On the bottom, MSI digs into the Twin Frozr 4 cooling solution that uses Superpipe and dust removal technologies, which work with the 100mm propeller blade fans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Internally we get a pair of black boxes; one with the MSI logo embossed on it. The thinner package has the accessory bundle, while the bottom holds the R9 270X Hawk securely in a black foam to protect against transit damage. The accessory bundle consists of documentation and a driver disk, while the hardware support comes in the form of a pair of dual 4-pin Molex to 6-pin PEG power adapters, DVI to VGA adapter, and the v-check point harnesses. The latter devices are used to allow the end user the ability to check voltages of the GPU, Memory, and PLL circuit without relying on software.

 

 

 

Having seen what the Hawk series from MSI is capable of in the past, let's see how this iteration fares and how it is equipped.

MSI R9 270X Closer Look:

Built around the Curacao XT GPU core, the MSI R9 270X Hawk is a custom-configured video card and sits at the top of MSI's R9 270X product stack. The R9 270X is built upon a custom PCB configured with MSI's Military Class technology, including Super Ferrite chokes, tantalum-filled Hi-C caps, and dark solid capacitors that are designed to extend the lifespan of the components and card while running more efficiently. Measuring 263 x 126 x 38 mm, or just under 10.5 inches, it will occupy a pair of PCIE slots worth of space on the motherboard and should easily fit most current chassis. Interestingly enough, most motherboards that support dual graphics cards solutions now build this dual-slot spacing into the design of the board. From the front we can see the Twin Frozr 4 cooling solution that is equipped with a pair of 10cm PWM-controlled propeller blade fans to supply the airflow to the large Superpipe-equipped heat sink. The back side has a backplate used to stiffen the PCB to prevent flex from damaging the traces in the PCB. Near the front of the card you can see the active phase switching LEDs that light up when each phase is in operation. The top and bottom views show that the MSI R9 270X Hawk is built for use in a motherboard that supports a 16x PCIe3.0 slot, but is backwards compatible. On the top, the large 8mm Superpipe carries part of the core's thermal load to the fin array, while the four smaller pipes carry the rest of the load.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The display configuration on the MSI R9 270X Hawk is a bit different than MSI's previous offerings. You get a full size DisplayPort with multi-streaming support, HDMI 1.4a, a single DL-DVI-D, and a single DL-DVI-I port. You can use any combination of these ports to run an Eyefinity panel without using active adapters, matching what NVIDIA is doing with its 700 series GPUs. This alone is a welcome addition from the red camp for gamers using multiple panels. A vent above the HDMI and DP ports is used to help vent some of the thermal load outside the chassis, although most of the load will be recycled within the chassis. Most modern chassis provide enough airflow that this should not be a concern. The back end of the PCB has little of interest, other than the V-Check points. These connection points allow the more technical user the ability to hook up a multimeter and read the applied voltages to the GPU core, memory, and PLL, so you do not have to rely on the readings given in a software utility. I found these easy to use and helped diagnose one issue I had with the card. To use this tool, just insert the adapters into the ports on the PCB and insert the leads of your meter into the red and black plugs.

 

 

 

MSI's R9 270X can be used in a two-card, multi-GPU CrossFireX configuration due to the single CrossFire bridge connection on top of the PCB. Running a pair of these cards in a CrossFireX configuration will enable you to have the same gaming experience at resolutions greater than 1920 x 1080. A pair of 6-pin PCIe connections are at the back end of the PCB to support the rated 161W board power requirement before using the triple voltage controls to really see what this card can do when it is time to push the clock speed limits. A memory heat sink works in concert with the back plate to stiffen the PCB. Just forward of the PCIe power connections is the dual BIOS switch that is used to switch from the standard profile to the LN2 profile that disables the OCP limits and APS (Active Phase Switching) on the 8+2 phase VRM design.

 

 

Cooling abilities for the R9 270X Hawk come in the form of MSI's own Twin Frozr 4 cooling solution. This dual-PWM propeller blade fan equipped heat sink assembly uses many unique features to cool down the GPU core. Inside the nickel-plated fin assembly are air diverters that redirect airflow through the fin array to provide enhanced cooling while still retaining the low noise benefits of the PWM fan design. A large 8mm heat pipe is used to supplement the four 6mm heat pipes to more efficiently move the thermal load from the GPU core. Using this type of cooling solution allows the PCB components to receive airflow to expand the lifespan of the onboard components. Many of these designs are noisy once you ramp them up to full speed. Not so with the Twin Frozr design. Inside the chassis, the fans were barely audible when set to run at 100% and totally silent at less than 75% when the chassis is buttoned up. MSI rates these fans at just over 21dBa with the card under full load and controlled by the card's BIOS. Silence and cooling do go hand in hand here.

 

 

AMD has given the 28nm Pitcairn GPU a couple new features and now call it Curacao XT. You get the same 2.8 billion transistors, 1280 streaming processors, 32 ROPs, and 80 texture units packed into the 212mm2 sized core. The memory interface is unchanged with 2GB or 4GB of GDDR5 memory running through a 256-bit bus, so not much has changed here either. In light of that, MSI has bumped up the core clock speeds on the R9 270X Hawk to 1100MHz, with a 1150MHz boost clock on the core, while the 2GB of GDDR5 memory sees a clock speed of 1400MHz. MSI has chosen to use Elpida EDW2032BBBG modules that are rated to run at up to 6Gbps using 1.5v, leaving some headroom over the 1400MHz rated speed.

 

 

In the past, MSI's Hawk Edition video cards have proven to be stellar performers that offered up a little something more when pushed to their limits. Let's see if the R9 270X Hawk can live up to that reputation.

MSI R9 270X Specifications:

Product Specification
Product Name
R9 270X HAWK
GPU
AMD Radeon ™ R9 270X
Codename
Curacao XT
Processors
1280 Units
Core Clock
Base:1100 MHz
Boost:1150 MHz
Memory Clock
5600 MHz
Memory Size
2048 MB GDDR5
Memory Bus
256 bits
Outputs
DisplayPort / HDMI /
DL-DVI-D / DL-DVI-I
Power Consumption
161 W
Card Dimension
263 x 126 x 38 mm
Form Factor
ATX
Technology Support
Afterburner OC
GPU / Memory / PLL
DirectX
11.2
OpenGL
4.3
Multi-GPU Technology
CrossFire
Multi-Display Technology
Eyefinity
3D Technology
HD3D
Power Saving Tech.
Powerplay
HDCP Capable
Y
Accessory
Driver CD
 
Installation Guide
Y
DVI to D-Sub Dongle
Y
6-Pin Power Cable
Y

 

MSI R9 270X Features:


 

All information courtesy of MSI @ http://us.msi.com/product/vga/#/?fp=R9 Series

MSI R9 270X Testing:

Testing of the MSI R9 270X Hawk will consist of running it and comparison cards through the OverclockersClub.com suite of games and synthetic benchmarks. This will test the performance against many popular competitors. Comparisons will be made to cards of a range of capabilities to show where each card falls on the performance ladder. The games used are some of today's newest and most popular titles, which should be able to provide an idea of how the cards perform relative to each other.

The system specifications will remain the same throughout the testing. No adjustments will be made to the respective control panels during the testing to approximate the performance the end user can expect with a stock driver installation. I will first test the cards at stock speeds, and then overclocked to see the effects of an increase in clock speed. The cards will be placed in order from highest to lowest performance in each graph to show where they fall by comparison. The NVIDIA comparison cards will be using the 320.18 drivers while AMD-based cards will be using the Catalyst 13.5 beta 2 drivers and latest CAP profile. The results generated in my testing were reached by utilizing the latest FCAT tools to illustrate the true picture of the gaming experience. To do so will require a second PC setup to capture the data stream generated by the compared video cards.

 

Testing Setup:

FCAT Capture Setup:

 

Comparison Video Cards:

 

 

Overclocking:

Overclocking is a way to gain additional FPS performance basically for free. MSI's Special Edition cards allow the end user to increase the voltages on three key parameters, masquerading as the triple over voltage control feature set. Unfortunately, with the rush to ship and be ready for the AMD launch, it looks like MSI's utility that normally works out of the box is not ready for the feature, so I feel there is more left on the table with the latest Pitcairn (Curaucao XT) once you put the squeeze on it with the additional voltage controls, once they are ready. Even so, under load the R9 270X Hawk has 1.21v applied to the core, so we get some overclocking headroom for the enthusiast, but not much on the core due to the out-of-the-box 1150MHz boost clock. The memory is also aggressively clocked at 1400MHz, delivering a measurable performance boost over the previous generation HD 7800 GHz edition. Overclocking was fairly straight forward without the added voltage control variables. Boost the core until it is unstable and then back down roughly 10 to 15MHz. In this case, the MSI R8 270X Hawk is willing to clock to 1215MHz without adding any voltage. The memory used on this card easily scaled up to 1600MHz, which meant a 200MHz bump over the 1400MHz base memory clock speed. A small gain on the core and big gains in the memory department without tweaking voltage are sure to boost the FPS output based on the scoring in 3DMark

 

Maximum Clock Speeds:

Testing for the maximum clock speed consisted of looping Unigine Heaven 4.0 for 30 minutes each to see where the clock speeds failed when pushed. If the clock speed adjustment failed, then the clock speeds and tests were rerun until they passed a full hour of testing.

 

 

  1. Metro: Last Light
  2. Splinter Cell Blacklist
  3. Bioshock Infinite
  4. Crysis 3
  5. Far Cry 3
  6. Battlefield 3
  7. Batman: Arkham City
  8. Unigine Heaven Benchmark 4.0
  9. 3DMark

 

  1. Temperatures
  2. Power Consumption

MSI R9 270X Testing:

Part first-person shooter, part survival horror, Metro: Last Light is the followup to the extremely popular game Metro 2033. Developed by 4A games and published by Deepsilver, this game uses the 4A game engine. In this game set a year after the missile strike on the Dark Ones you continue on as Artyom as he digs deeper into the bowels of the Metro.

 

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At 1920x1080, the MSI R9 270X Hawk is going to deliver just over 30 FPS in this game with the settings used. At 5760x1080, the drop in frame rate makes the game almost unplayable with a single card. Reducing the visual quality can help boost frame rates at the cost of visual quality.

 

FCAT Results:

In the percentile charts, the MSI R9 270X Hawk delivers an almost flat frame time curve until the 95th percentile. Frame times in game at 1920x1080 are in the high 20 to high 30ms range, while at 5760x1080 the results are indicitive of the type of performance you can expect from a card designed to work best at 1920x1080 where it does better than the GTX 660 and HD 7870.

 

1920x1080     5760x1080

 

1920x1080     5760x1080

MSI R9 270X Testing:

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Blacklist is the sixth installment in this franchise. Released in mid August 2013 in the US, it is published and distributed by Ubisoft. This game is built around the Unreal 2.5 game engine and uses Havok Physics. A new feature in this third person perspective game is a new game mechanic called Killing in Motion.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At both 1920x1080 and 5760x1080, the MSI R9 270X Hawk delivers playable frame rates. The concern here is that the card is only marginally faster than the GTX 660 and HD 7870, but on the positive side it comes within 4 FPS over the GTX 760.

 

FCAT Results:

In the percentile charts, the card's frame time performance curve is fairly flat with a small rise in frame time as you reach the 95th percentile. Frame times at 1920x1080 fall within an 8ms range, showing smooth gameplay. At 5760x1080, the gameplay experience is a bit rougher around the edges, with higher frame time spikes throughout the run.

 

1920x1080     5760x1080

 

1920x1080     5760x1080

MSI R9 270X Hawk Testing:

Bioshock Infinite, much like the first two installments of the franchise, is a first-person shooter known for its strong story and atmosphere. This third installment of the franchise no longer takes place in the underwater world of Rapture, but in the could city of Columbia. Utilizing many of the gameplay characteristics of the original games, Bioshock Infinite has garnered critical acclaim. Taking the player through a maze of outdoor and indoor scenarios, the action is not constrained by territory. Developed by Irrational Games and published by 2K Games, this iteration uses the Unreal 3 game engine.

 

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Playing at 1920x1080, you get gameplay and FPS performance that is better than the GTX 760, GTX 660, and the HD 7870. At 5760x1080, the R9 270X Hawk is on the cusp of delivering 30 FPS, the commonly held rate at which games are playable.

 

FCAT Results:

The percentile charts do not show anything out of the ordinary in this game. The frame times show some spikes in roughly the same spots in the charts. Frame times at 1920x1080 are in very tight, showing smooth gameplay. At 5760x1080, frame times inch up into the 30 to 50ms range due to the lower FPS results.

 

1920x1080     5760x1080

 

1920x1080     5760x1080

MSI R9 270X Testing:

This third installment of the Crysis franchise, developed by Crytek and distributed by Electronic Arts, uses the CryEngine 3 game engine and requires a DirectX 11 ready video card and operating system due to its demanding graphics engine.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At 1920x1080, the MSI R9 270X Hawk delivers gameplay close to that of the GTX 760 and HD 7950 while outshining the GTX 660 and HD 7870 by 5+ FPS. At 5760x1080, the R9 270X Hawk is within a single FPS of the GTX 760.

 

FCAT Results:

At 1920x1080, the performance curve of the R9 270X Hawk is almost flat with the maximum frame times spiking up to just under 100ms, while the HD 7870 hits spikes over 200ms. Gameplay at 1920x1080 is relatively smooth with the R9 270X Hawk, yet at 5760x1080, you can expect the experience to be less than fluid from just about every card in the comparison.

 

1920x1080 5760x1080

 

1920x1080 5760x1080

MSI R9 270X Testing:

Far Cry 3 is the latest iteration in the Far Cry series. Released in the US in early December 2012, it uses the Dunia 2 game engine and is published and developed by Ubisoft. This action-adventure, first-person shooter offers both single player and multi-player modes.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At 1920x1080, the MSI R9 270X Hawk is within 4 FPS of the GTX 760. At 5760x1080, the margin shrinks to less than a single FPS. Both results are much better than those of the HD 7870 and GTX 660. So far, even with the latest beta driver package and hardware, this game still has a series of anomalies that are more annoying than anything else. The test sequence I run features the protagonist running along a dirt road, and from square one you have shadows that can best be described as dust balls bouncing along the ground where shadows should be. This does not impact performance, but is more noticeable at 5760x1080 than at 1920x1080. More than anything else, it takes away from the visual impact this game is known for.

 

FCAT Results:

The percentile charts do not show anything out of the ordinary when you look at the comparison cards; the performance curve is pretty much flat. Looking at the frame time charts, the majority of the comparison field, including the MSI R9 270X Hawk, are in the 15 to 20ms range that offers smooth gameplay. At 5760x1080, you can see this scale up into the 40 to 50ms range that is going to deliver gameplay that chugs along, offering less than optimal FPS and gameplay – something you can expect with cards delivering less than 30 FPS in this game.

 

1920x1080 5760x1080

 

1920x1080 5760x1080

MSI R9 270X Testing:

Battlefield 3 is a first-person shooter developed by EA Digital Illusions CE and published by Electronic Arts. Battlefield 3 uses the Frostbite 2 game engine and is the direct successor to Battlefield 2. Released in North America on October 25, 2011, the game supports DirectX 10 and 11.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In BF3, MSI's R9 270X Hawk delivers FPS results close to those of the GTX 760 and improves upon the FPS delivered by the HD 7870.

 

FCAT Results:

The percentile charts show that the R9 270X Hawk has a few more outliers than the HD 7870 once you get close to the 80th percentile range at 1920x1080, but settles down with an overall tighter spread at 5760x1080. Although the frame times look all over the board, the vast majority of the results are within a very tight 4ms range top to bottom. The end result is smooth gameplay using the Ultra Preset!

 

1920x1080     5760x1080

 

1920x1080     5760x1080

MSI R9 270X Testing:

Batman: Arkham City is the sequel to Batman: Arkham Asylum released in 2009. This action-adventure game based on DC Comics' Batman super hero was developed by Rocksteady Studios and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. Batman: Arkham City uses the Unreal 3 engine.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Batman: Arkham City, the R9 270X Hawk Delivers performance on par with that of the GTX 760 at both 1920x1080 and 5760x1080, while it is decidedly faster than the GTX 660 and HD 7870 at the same resolutions.

 

FCAT Results:

Looking at the percentile and frame time charts, the experience in this game is fairly smooth with the same spikes across all the runs.

 

1920x1080 5760x1080

 

1920x1080 5760x1080

MSI R9 270X Testing:

Unigine Heaven Benchmark 4.0 is a DirectX 11 GPU benchmark based on the Unigine engine. This was the first DX 11 benchmark to allow testing of DX 11 features. 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, DirectX 11 and OpenGL 4.0. Visually, it features beautiful floating islands that contain a tiny village and extremely detailed architecture.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Performance in this test shows that the R9 270X is faster than its contemporaries, the GTX 660 and HD 7870 GHz edition.

 

FCAT Results:

Looking through the percentile and frame time charts, we see nothing out of the ordinary with each card delivering a consistent performance. The frame time results for the R9 270X and HD 7870 mirror each other throughout the run without anything out of place.

 

1920x1080 5760x1080

 

1920x1080 5760x1080

MSI R9 270X Testing:

3DMark: The just-released version of Futuremark's popular 3DMark suite is designed to let a wider range of the user base make a comparative analysis of the gaming prowess of their systems from entry level PCs to notebooks and extreme gaming PCs.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking at the performance of the MSI R9 270X Hawk in this test, you can see that it outshines the HD 7870 GHz edition, GTX 760, and GTX 660 in all the tests. A pretty strong showing in this test.

MSI R9 270X Testing:

Temperature testing will be accomplished by loading the video card to 100% using Unigine's Heaven Benchmark Version 4.0, with MSI's Afterburner overclocking utility for temperature monitoring. I will be using a resolution of 1920x1080 using 8xAA and a five-run sequence 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 involve a 20-minute cooldown, with the fan speeds left on automatic in the stock speed testing and bumped up to 100% when running overclocked.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MSI's Twin Frozr 4 dual-fan cooler design has been the mainstay on MSI's custom in-house cards for the past few years with the R9 270X being equipped with revision 4. The ducting in the Twin Frozr 4 heat sink is effective at lowering temperatures with minimal fan noise. At stock speeds and letting the VGA BIOS manage the fan speed, the card delivers excellent thermals. Increasing the fan speed manually only improves the cooling scenario, providing a 15 °C improvement, with the only penalty being the slight noise increase when ramping up the fans.

MSI R9 270X Testing:

Power consumption of the system will be measured at both idle and loaded states, taking into account the peak voltage of the system with each video card installed. I will use Unigine's Heaven Benchmark version 4.0 to put a load onto the GPU using the settings below. A 15-minute load test will be used to heat up the GPU, with the highest power usage recorded as the final result. The idle results will be measured after 15 minutes of inactivity on the system with the lowest recorded power usage as the final result.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Idle power consumption on the MSI R9 270X Hawk is slightly higher than the Devil HD 7870 in all four tests, but is a spot-on comparison with the Powercolor card using three smaller fan blades instead of the larger Propeller blade fans used on the R9 270X Hawk.

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.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: