MSI RX 470 Gaming X 8G Reviewccokeman -
Category: Video Cards
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MSI RX 470 Gaming X 8G Introduction:
AMD and its partners made a big splash a few months back with the introduction of AMD's latest "Polaris" 4th generation Graphics Core Next architecture. Having looked at a few Polaris-based cards already, it is clear that AMD had targeted the 1920x1080 market and had conceded the top end to its competitor while still keeping VR capability as an option with this new product. The card I am looking at today from MSI has all the hallmarks of the brand: a large well built, low noise cooling solution; Military Class IV power components; and a factory-overclocked Boost clock speed of up to 1254MHz right out of the box. Add in the features like RGB lighting to match the theme of your build and MSI's Gaming APP that lets you control a myriad of effects and tools, and you have a really interesting package. Let's take a look and see how well this card handles a typical gaming scenario!
MSI RX 470 Gaming X 8G Closer Look:
The packaging for the MSI RX 470 Gaming X 8G looks much like what I have seen from MSI on its NVIDIA-based offerings, but in red. The front panel shows the RX 470 Gaming X 8G from a rear looking 3/4 view. The few changes on the front panel really come down to the product name against a red background and the AMD-specific feature set along the bottom left side of the box. A great move for product branding consistency on store shelves. At the top right, you can see MSI is using its Twin Frozr VI cooling solution on this video card. The rear of the package goes over the feature set, including HDR Ready, FreeSync support, Crossfire support, Virtual Super Resolution (VSR), and more. The big highlights are the Custome RGB lighting, Twin Frozr VI cooling solution, and the MSI Gaming APP, which is ready to offer three different clock speed profiles along with some really nice add-ons. Inside the box, the card is packed well in an open-cell foam shell with a warranty registration card. The accessories included with the RX 470 Gaming X 8G are a driver and software disk should you not have Internet access and an quick installation guide. Minimal to say the least, but at this point, if you are spending on a decent video card, you more than likely have a monitor supporting at least a DVI connection.
The MSI RX 470 Gaming X 8G is built upon AMD's Polaris 10 4th generation GCN technology. From the front, you can see the large 95mm Torx 2.0 ball bearing fans with dispersion blades that help push 22% more airflow directly through the large heat pipe equipped fin array. The translucent red accents light up in red while the MSI logo on the top of the card is able to light up in the full RGB spectrum. The back side of the card does not feature a back plate to help with card rigidity. Nevertheless, the card feels fairly robust without it. On the back side, there is not much to note. The top and bottom views show just how large the Twin Frozr VI cooler is. There are a pair of heat pipes packed into this two-slot cooling solution that loop through the contact plate and into the fin array. These heat pipes are held pretty tight to the top of the custom black PCB and are part of the close quarters cooling solution employed by MSI to keep the GDDR5 memory and Polaris 10 core cool. At 275x137x35mm in size, the RX 470 Gaming X 8G is modestly sized and should easily fit the majority of chassis on the market. Much like just about every current gaming-centric video card, the RX 470 Gaming X 8G is designed to run in a 16x PCIe 3.0 slot, but is backwards compatible.
Display connectivity on this RX 470 from MSI consists of a single DL-DVI-D port, a pair of HDMI 2.0b ports, and a pair of HDR ready DisplayPort 1.4 ports that support up to four displays. The I/O port has a decorative touch that looks like the MSI dragon logo with some additional accent work that allows plenty of airflow through the back of the chassis. Even with the open-shroud design, some of the thermal load gets dumped into the chassis air stream. This usually is not a problem as most modern chassis have enough airflow capacity built in right out of the box. The back end of the card is open to facilitate good airflow through the Twin Frozer VI cooling solution. At the bottom left are the shroud LED and Torx 2.0 fan wiring connections.
No longer does AMD use bridge connections to support its multi-GPU strategy, CrossfireX. CrossfireX configurations are supported by way of AMD's XDMA technology that no longer uses a Crossfire bridge connection and sends the inter-GPU communication through the PCIe bus. The MSI Dragon Logo is set by default to white, By using the tool in the MSI Gaming APP, you can change this LED-based lighting to any color in the RGB rainbow to match the theme of your build. An 8-pin power connection, when combined with the PCIe slot, provides up to 225 watts to the card. By using an 8-pin PEG connection, MSI ensures that this card does not suffer the wrath of the public over-consuming much more power than the PCIe or PEG connection can provide. The TDP of this card comes in at 110W from MSI. With a TDP this low, MSI recommends at least a 450 watt power supply to power the system.
The Twin Frozr VI cooling solution is held on the 4th generation GCN core by four spring-loaded screws through the PCB. Pulling the cooler off the card allows us to see the components on the PCB. The amount of thermal paste used on the core is enough to cover the core and part of the surrounding area, so coverage is pretty good with the thin paste. This amount of TIM does not seem to impact cooling efficiency. A low profile heat sink is used to cover the Military Class IV power regulation system, including MSI's tantalum filled Hi-C caps. The balance of the Military class components used on the 4+2 phase system on this board are the Super Ferrite chokes and solid capacitors. These components combine to offer a cooler running, longer lasting power solution with a higher power handling capacity.
As the vehicle to remove the thermal load from the core, the Twin Frozr VI cooling solution from MSI is built to handle the load. A pair of 95mm Torx 2.0 fans feature dispersion blades in addition to the standard blades on each of the fans. The dispersion blades are used in a 1:1 ratio with the standard blades for a total of seven of each blade on each fan. This configuration allows for up to 22% higher air pressure through the Twin Fozr VI fin array to employ MSI's Close Quarters cooling for the Military Class IV components. The heat pipe based cooler has a pair of heat pipes, one 8mm and one 6mm, that flatten out as they go over the nickel-plated copper contact plate to improve thermal transfer. If you look at the side of the fin array, you can see some directional veins that direct airflow through the fin array for improved cooling. MSI calls this Airflow Control Technology and improves cooling efficiency. MSI also employs Zero Frozr Technology, which keeps the fans from spinning when the cards temperature is kept under 60 °C. Once the card reaches 60 °C, the fans start spinning to manage the thermals. You get the best of both worlds: low noise and great thermal performance.
AMD's Polaris 10 is built on AMD's Fourth Generation Graphics Core Next Ellesmere architecture. This architecture is AMD's first foray into the 14 nanometer process, using GlobalFoundries to build the chips. Housing 5.7 bilion transistors in a 230mm² die, this "Polaris 10" core has 2048 shader units, 128 texture units, and 32 ROPS, with a maximum boost clock speed of 1254MHz in OC mode. By using MSI's Gaming APP, you can choose one of three profiles that have varying clock speeds. The gaming profile is slightly lower than the OC profile, while the silent profile comes in at 1206MHz. 8GB of high-speed GDDR5 memory from Micron is used, running an 7.6Gbps effective rate (1900MHz actual) and flows through a 256-bit wide bus.
Each of MSI's Gaming X cards that I have tested have proven to be solid performers with excellent noise and cooling characteristics. Let's see if this AMD-based sample can live up to the expectations.