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MSI GTX 670 Power Edition: When Reference is Not Reference

Author: Josh Walrath
Manufacturer: MSI


What is not to like with the GTX 670 Power Edition? A user will get an updated and upgraded cooling solution, an upgraded PCB with more power handling capabilities, a pretty aggressive overclock that looks to actually exceed official specifications, and a nice and quiet package that will fit in any enthusiast’s case. Add into that equation the fact that this Power Edition product ends up being around $5 more expensive than a reference card (after rebate), and we can see that we have a pretty convincing product.

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The GTX 670 PE at the top, the R7850 3G/OC in the middle, and finally the old HD 6950 OC.

Not all is rosy though. While the card is faster overall than the HD 7950 it was pitted against (both are overclocked), is it really $60 to $75 better? I am a bit on the fence about this one. AMD has been very aggressive with its Radeon HD 7000 series of cards since the beginning of this summer, and a overclocked HD 7970 is around the same price as the GTX 670. Such a card would be faster overall (as long as it was clocked around the 1 GHz mark), and the extra 1 GB of memory is handy when it comes to high resolution gaming.

The card I received though has much going for it. The cooler is fantastic, it overclocks well, and it performs well above the reference designs that are only a few dollars cheaper. It is dead silent when at load, and even when it was overclocked. The quality of the board seems very good, and the output options are a step above what the AMD products tend to offer.

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I liked this card. I really enjoyed playing with a GTX 600 part for the first time. It was good that it was as fast as it was, and the extra features that the 600 series brings is really nice. Overclocking is amazingly easy, and it is pretty quick and painless to get out of an overclock that was too aggressive. The only downside I see is perhaps a lack of performance in a couple of titles as compared to the much cheaper competition. If a person were to play 3D Mark 2011 all day, then the GTX 670 is for them. In real world gaming, the differences are usually not so extreme.  Only when we get to titles like DiRT Showdown or Battlefield 3 do we see some real distance between the R7950 and the GTX 670.

Through no fault of its own, MSI is sorta stuck at the plus $400 price point with this card. NVIDIA should probably lower prices on the GTX 670 to more adequately match what the competition offers at around $60 less. We also must be aware that a new 600 family member is about to be released, and that particular price point might make the current GTX 670 somewhat unattractive.

Overall this is a great card at a competitive price when looking at only other GTX 670 products. When we start to include the latest HD 7970 and HD 7950 price cuts, the GTX 670 PE starts to lose some of its luster. Still, for die-hard NVIDIA fans this is going to be a great card for them. Most other consumers will really want to weigh overall performance in the games they tend to play vs. that of overall price. Gamers looking for Surround gaming solutions will really want to take a look at cards featuring 3 GB to 4 GB of memory onboard.

MSI has produced a really good card at a very competitive price in the GTX 670 market. It has enough features to really pull it ahead of the crowd at those prices, and the performance it brings is really outstanding in a wide variety of applications (except when it falls down in DiRT Showdown). Keep a close eye on this one, as it could be quite popular at retail. Also keep a close look at prices, as some new surprises are on the way.

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August 24, 2012 | 08:29 AM - Posted by mdevos (not verified)

I was wondering how much of a performance gain is seen versus a reference GTX670. Unfortunately, this is not included in the graphs of the game testing. Too bad..

I don't understand the last part of the article, where you mention that MSI's default overclock, is actually causing crashes when put into benchmark / torture test. This would mean MSI's overclock is unstable?

August 27, 2012 | 10:34 AM - Posted by Josh Walrath

You are looking at most at about a 4% increase over a stock clocked GTX 670.  The differences are not all that great.  You are primarily getting this card for the cooling and unique design/voltage control rather than it being a much, much faster product than the stock GTX 670.

The last part actually reads, "At no time was this card unstable during benchmarking and torture tests..." So basically it was perfectly stable even with the boost speed up to 1170+ right out of the box.  The card performed without issue.

August 29, 2012 | 10:49 AM - Posted by Davin (not verified)

Hey Josh, I wanted to say thanks for the article. I have been on the fence about upgrading from my old xfx radeon 5870. I had been hunting the various 670/680 cards and the amd 7970 and so forth. After all is said and done I got this card yesterday for $395 with borderlands 2 and mafia 2. I have overclocked it an have the core at 1170 mhz and my boost has been anywhere from 1250-1350mhz. This is of course with a voltage bump and such. Anyway, thank you again for a quality article that has resulted in a massive performance bump for me. Temperatures are still low even under load and even at 50% fan the card is still nice and quiet. :D

September 1, 2012 | 05:59 PM - Posted by Gambler (not verified)

Josh, I was comparing the BF3 at 2560x1600 Ultra results in your article to those from the Galaxy GTX 670 GC 4GB article. Your results for the MSI GTX 670 PE card are 48fps min and 63.8fps avg. The results for the Galaxy card at the same settings are 26fps min, 41fps avg and 66fps max.

Can the BF3 results for the MSI and Galaxy cards from the two articles be compared? If so, why pay more for the extra 2GB of memory on Galaxy card? Any chance the results for the MSI card are avg and max?

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