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MSI N460GTX Hawk Review



Testing of the N460GTX Hawk from MSI 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 equal and greater capabilities to show where it falls on the performance ladder. The games used are some of today's newest and most popular titles to give you an idea on how the cards perform relative to each other. The system specifications will remain the same throughout the testing. No adjustment will be made to the respective control panels during the testing with the exception of the 3DMark Vantage testing where PhysX will be disabled in the NVIDIA control panel. I will test the card at stock speeds, then overclocked in order to see how much additional performance is available and to determine if it can run with the current fastest single GPU cards on the market. The drivers used in this test will be the 10.10 Catalyst drivers for ATI (The exception being the HD6800 series) and the 260.89 Forceware drivers from NVIDIA. Tests will be conducted at both stock and overclocked settings to gauge performance when an increase in clock speed is applied.


Comparison Video Cards:



  • MSI N460GTX 922/1844/2074Mhz

Everyone saw the YouTube video of one of these cards hitting a stable 1GHz on the core while running MSI Kombuster as the load. I was really jazzed up to see if this card could do the same based on that video. Of course, the Hawk is the only 460 out with triple voltage controls so it must be possible with the high end component selection, right? Unfortunately wrong! It looks like MSI pulled the reins in on the voltages that could be applied in the MSI Afterburner utility from +200mv to +100mv so without the extra juice it just won't get close to the 1GHz core clock speed. The best I could pull off with stability was 922MHz on the core and 2074MHz on the memory to make this card the highest clocking GTX 460 I have tested. Still, a far cry from the 1GHz that was pushed around on the net. By using the built-in voltage monitoring points (these are incredibly handy and make checking voltages a snap!) I was able to visualize the maximum voltage being applied under load to 1.16v. The idle voltage was .897 and was upped to .984 when the +100mv was applied. By uninstalling Afterburner 2.0 and 2.1 and rolling back to 1.6.0, the voltage applied when overclocked reached 1.239v measured under load. This allowed the core to be clocked up to 955Mhz so applying more voltage (as is the case normally) does result in a significant overclocking increase. Without the additional voltage to the memory that can be applied, I was limited to a 1960Mhz overclock on the memory. So, you get a little good with the bad. I am guessing the corporate bean counters got involved in this one when they started calculating RMA costs.

One other note on overclocking. There are two switches on the back of the PCB that are there to enable removal of the overcurrent and thermal protection. When I finished testing the first card and could not reach 1GHz on the core, I decided to get rid of the protections and go for broke. Broke is what I got. Unknown to me was an email sitting in my inbox stating this early batch had issues when the protections are bypassed! I made it through about 15 seconds of a 3D load before I had the black screen of death usually associated with a bad overclock. MSI promptly replaced this card and the new sample has a warning label on it that gives you the spiel about voiding warranties if removed. Lesson learned. Even with all that, I again have to reiterate that the N460GTX has reached the highest core clock speed on a GTX 460 model I have tested to-date.


Maximum Clock Speeds:

MSI's Kombuster utility was used to test stability and to put a constant load on the GPU for the purposes of testing maximum power draw and temperatures. The stability test was used to find a range of settings that are stable through a 15 minute run at 1920 x 1200 8xAA. The reported clock speeds are those that proved stable over a 15 minute test at 1920 x 1200, 8x AA and the run through the benchmarks suite.



  • Gaming Tests:
  1. Far Cry 2
  2. Metro 2033
  3. Crysis Warhead
  4. Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2
  5. Just Cause 2
  6. Unigine Heaven Benchmark 2.0
  7. Batman: Arkham Asylum
  8. Resident Evil 5
  9. 3DMark 06 Professional
  10. 3DMark Vantage
  • Usage:
  1. Temperature
  2. Power Consumption

  1. Introduction & Closer Look
  2. Closer Look (The Video Card)
  3. Specifications & Features
  4. Testing: Setup & Overclocking
  5. Testing: Far Cry 2
  6. Testing: Metro 2033
  7. Testing: Crysis Warhead
  8. Testing: Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2
  9. Testing: Just Cause 2
  10. Testing: Unigine 2.1
  11. Testing: Batman Arkham Asylum
  12. Testing: Resident Evil 5
  13. Testing: 3DMark 06
  14. Testing: 3DMark Vantage
  15. Testing: Temperatures
  16. Testing: Power Consumption
  17. Conclusion
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