Spicing up the GTX 670
The Power Edition graphics card series from MSI is a relatively new addition to its lineup. The Power Edition often mimics that of the higher-end Lightning series, but at a far lower price (and perhaps a smaller feature set). This allows MSI to split the difference between the reference class boards and the high end Lightning GPUs.
Doing this allows users a greater variety of products to choose from, and to better tailor users' purchases by their needs and financial means. Not everyone wants to pay $600 for a GTX 680 Lightning, but what if someone was able to get similar cooling, quality, and overclocking potential for a much lower price? This is what MSI has done with one of its latest Power Edition cards.
The GTX 670 Power Edition
The NVIDIA GTX 670 cards have received accolades throughout the review press. It is a great combination of performance, power consumption, heat production, and price. It certainly caused AMD a great amount of alarm, and it hurriedly cut prices on the HD 7900 series of cards in response. The GTX 670 is a slightly cut-down version of the full GTX 680, and it runs very close to the clock speed of its bigger brother. In fact, other than texture and stream unit count, the cards are nearly identical.
The HAWK Returns
The $300 to $400 range of video cards has become quite crowded as of late. If we can remember way back to March when AMD introduced their HD 7800 series of cards, and later that month we saw NVIDIA release their GTX 680 card. Even though NVIDIA held the price/performance crown, AMD continued to offer their products at what many considered to be grossly overpriced considering the competition. Part of this was justified because NVIDIA simply could not meet demand of their latest card, and they were often unavailable for purchase at MSRPs. Eventually AMD started cutting back prices, but this led to another issue. The HD 7950 was approaching the price of the HD 7870 GHz Edition. The difference in prices between these products was around $20, but the 7950 was around 20% faster than the 7870. This made the HD 7870 (and the slightly higher priced overclocked models) a very unattractive option for users.
It seems as though AMD and their partners have finally rectified this situation, and just in time. With NVIDIA finally being able to adequately provide stock for both the GTX 680 and GTX 670, the prices on the upper-midrange cards has taken a nice drop to where we feel they should be. We are now starting to see some very interesting products based on the HD 7850 and HD 7870 cards, one of which we are looking at today.
The MSI R7870 HAWK
The R7870 Hawk utilizes the AMD HD 7870 GPU. This chip has a reference speed of 1 GHz, but with the Hawk it is increased to a full 1100 MHz. The GPU has the entire 20 compute units enabled featuring 1280 stream processors. It has the 256 bit memory bus running 2GB of GDDR-5 memory at 1200 MHz, which gives a total bandwidth of 160 GB/sec. I am somewhat disappointed that MSI did not give the memory speed a boost, but at least the user can enable that for themselves through the Afterburner software.
XFX Throws into the Midrange Ring
Who is this XFX? This is a brand that I have not dealt with in a long time. In fact, the last time I had an XFX card was some five years ago, and it was in the form of the GeForce 8800 GTX XXX Edition. This was a pretty awesome card for the time, and it seemed to last forever in terms of performance and features in the new DX 10 world that was 2007/2008. This was a heavily overclocked card, and it would get really loud during gaming sessions. I can honestly say though that this particular card was troublefree and well built.
XFX has not always had a great reputation though, and the company has gone through some very interesting twists and turns over the years. XFX is a subsidiary of Pine Technologies. Initially XFX dealt strictly with NVIDIA based products, but a few years back when the graphics market became really tight, NVIDIA dropped several manufacturers and focused their attention on the bigger partners. Among the victims of this tightening were BFG Technologies and XFX. Unlike BFG, XFX was able to negotiate successfully with AMD to transition their product lineup to Radeon products. Since then XFX has been very aggressive in pursuing unique designs based on these AMD products. While previous generation designs did not step far from the reference products, this latest generation is a big step forward for XFX.
Subject: Graphics Cards | March 6, 2012 - 08:55 PM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: Twin Frozr, R7970, R7870, msi, Lightning, hd 7950, hd 7850, HD 77750, hd 7770, hawk
The Romanian site Lab 501 was able to snap some shots and get some information about the latest generation of custom built graphics products from MSI. We had actually talked to Alex Chang of MSI about what Twin Frozr IV would bring to the table, but today we actually get to see the (nearly) finished parts.
It looks as if MSI is changing around their color scheme, but the heatsink remains as big as the previous generation's. (image courtesy of Lab 501)
The products shown were of course only the AMD based parts, as the NVIDIA Kepler products are still under wraps (but apparently should see the light of day later this month). MSI is giving the full Twin Frozr IV treatment to every HD 7750 and above part. The HD 7970 is getting the Lightning edition with all the bells and whistles, while the HD 7870 is going under the Hawk brand.
We have few details about what all Twin Frozr IV includes, but it keeps the propeller blades and the anti-dust technology that we first saw in the N580GTX Lightning. From the shots we have, it does not appear that they will be using the temperature sensitive fan units that actually change color when going above 45C.
They were able to take a good shot of the board without the heatsink, and it is just as jam packed as the previous Lightning products. (image courtesy of Lab 501)
The Lightning will feature a total of 4 Display Ports and 2 DVI ports, so it can support up to 6 monitors at once. This appears similar to what Asus did with the EAH6950 and EAH6970 cards that were recently reviewed here. The Hawk will only feature 2 Display Ports, HDMI, and DVI-I. The rest of the lineup looks like reference based cards with custom Twin Frozr IV coolers.
It is good to see MSI continues with the more affordable Hawk brand. (image courtesy of Lab 501)
Of particular interest is the board design of the Lightning card. It is simply jam packed with power regulation components and the new "Twin Form-in-One" bracing system which supports both sides of the PCB with metal plates to minimize warping, improve cooling, and funnel airflow. Looking at the back of the card reveals the plate having a nice sized hole in it which would be perfect for another fan to cool all of the components on the back. More digging has informed us that it is actually a removable "GPU Reactor Core". More details should be available soon.
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