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MSI N560GTX-Ti HAWK Graphic Card Review

Author: Josh Walrath
Manufacturer: MSI Computers

Overclocking and Conclusion


This is the endeavor that the HAWK was made for.  The BIOS switch was set to Silent and the other overclocking switch was set to default.  Every card is different, so not all HAWKs will be able to replicate my experiences here.  The memory was overclocked first due to the error correcting properties of the NVIDIA controller and GDDR-5.  The memory was bumped up and then the card was benchmarked.  Once performance started to decrease, the memory clock was reduced until performance stabilized.  With the memory slightly overvolted, I was able to achieve 1075, which translates to 4.3 GTPS as compared to stock at 4.2 GTPS.

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Note the three voltage monitoring points at the bottom left.

At stock voltage (1.062v) I was able to take the GPU speed to 1005 MHz, which resulted in the shaders running at 2010 MHz.  Breaking 1 GHz was remarkably easy with this card.  I then set the voltage for the chip at 1.15v.  I was able to get the card to run benchmarks at 1035 MHz (2070 MHz shader).  Temperatures reached to the mid 80s at this setting, and I was able to see around a 3% to 4% increase in overall performance.  1035 MHz is not so bad once we consider a stock 560 Ti is running at 822 MHz.


MSI makes some mean video cards.  While they may not have always kept a sterling reputation, the past several years have seen some pretty significant leaps in board and cooling design from MSI.  The N560GTX-Ti HAWK is just another in a long line of pretty successful video cards from the company.

The concept for this card is obviously not new, but MSI has built upon their experiences with the previous generations of HAWK and Lightning cards.  What has been delivered to us is one of the finest midrange cards currently available.  The stock overclock is already at a pretty high level, and being able to take it past 1 GHz pretty easily should make most overclockers quite happy.

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The original R5770 HAWK seems so puny as compared to the N560GTX-Ti (middle) and the R6970 Lightning (bottom).

The Twin Frozr III cooling system does its job just as expected.  The board has amazingly low idle temperatures, and even at full load and overclocked it does not compromise the stability of the card or the rest of the components inside a closed (and hopefully well ventilated) case.  The board design and use of high quality components basically ensures that this card will last longer than the 3 year warranty that MSI supplies with the card.  The bundle is not overwhelming, but it is decent.  The free game is a nice extra, but the real star is the Afterburner software.  That makes life quite a bit easier for reviewers and users alike.

Perhaps the biggest surprise with this card is how closely it compares to the AMD HD 6950.  This is a good thing for NVIDIA and its partners, as these cards exist right around the same area in terms of price.  The typical 560 Ti comes in around $234 before MIR, and the MSI N560GTX-Ti HAWK is sitting right around $264.  Most 2 GB HD 6950s are in the range between $260 and $300.  So in terms of performance, the HAWK card is right where it should be.  Once we factor in things such as cooling performance, overclocking abilities, and overall build quality and warranty, I feel like the HAWK is hitting its mark quite nicely.

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I am glad that MSI got away from the backplate design of the original HAWK.  Users wanting to do multi-monitor setups were somewhat out of luck with that particular setup.

The only real issue that a user could have with this card is the 1GB framebuffer.  This is something of a hotly debated topic in the industry now, and I personally am more in the middle.  I like that the AMD cards feature 2GB of memory with the HD 6950 and HD 6970, but as of yet the only situations where we have seen a problem in performance is with a handful of games running at 2560x1600 resolution.  We start to see the age old problem that we invariably encounter as we are moving up in frame buffer size, and that problem is how can we tell if the GPU or the memory is holding us back at that particular resolution with that particular game?  Certainly there is pressure on the memory, but is the poor performance manifested due to the GPU just not being able to push the scene in the first place?  My gut feeling here, and looking at the results, is that the GPU is holding back the 560 Ti in those situations rather than having one half of the available framebuffer as the competition.  There is no doubt that we will get to the point where 2 GB is necessary, but at today’s standard resolutions that still is not much of an issue with 1GB cards.

MSI just keeps the hits coming on the video card front.  While I was not overly impressed with their latest motherboard offerings this past month, they have kept their foot on the gas when it comes to graphics.  The best part about these cards is that generally they are not that much more expensive than the reference versions.  With the HAWK series this is especially true.  In this case, it sits right around the upper-middle portion of current offerings using this GPU.  MSI has created yet another outstanding video card for enthusiasts everywhere.


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MSI N560GTX-Ti HAWK Silver Award Winner

June 12, 2011 | 06:59 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

this review lacks substance , compairing only a few cards against the MSI card does not give the reader the ability to make a choice if considering buying this card . Like how does it stack up against a standard 560TI ? Or how does it do against older cards . Thats why I never bother much reading the Reviews at PcPer .

June 12, 2011 | 01:53 PM - Posted by Josh Walrath

There are some advantages and disadvantages for having a whole slew of video cards for comparison, unfortunately the disadvantages start to overwhelm the advantages once the amount of cards starts to increase. The primary issues that we face are that of time, DirectX level, and changes in performance due to driver adjustments and patches to individual applications. As a reviewer I already spend about 20 to 40 hours on a single review, depending on what product it is.

Benchmarking the cards we have takes up most that time. You are probably thinking, "Why not just leave your setup the same so the numbers and driver revisions match?" Some publications do this, unfortunately we have seen some significant advances in performance due to software optimizations that have changed the competitive landscape between manufacturers. A good example of this are some of the latest Catalyst driver revisions which made products like the HD 6950, which upon introduction was slower than products like the GTX 480, suddenly wake up and outperform that card.

So as a balance, I try to pick and choose the competition for any one card based on what I have available, what price points we are looking at, and what seems to have a lot of interest from our readership (via email and forum posts). I also try to make sure they share the same level of DX compliance. Sure, it would be interesting to see how a GTX 285 would compare against a 560 Ti, but then we see an increase in workload to make sure we match up the DirectX settings... which in most cases would disable things like tessellation in the games that utilize it, or optimized DX11 pathways such as in BF:BC2. There just is not a good way to go about this in a timely manner, and things get messy quickly. Btw, a GTX 285 is slower than a GTX 460, while a standard GTX 560 Ti is about 20% faster than the 460... and the MSI 560Ti here is about 7% faster than a stock clocked 560Ti.

We try to cover as best we can the majority of bases, but oftentimes things get left out due to time constraints on our part.  Keeping a good balance in reviews is hard, and invariably someone is disappointed in our coverage of a product.

June 14, 2011 | 05:33 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I can understand your point but if Reviews at PcPer are going to compete with other major players on the web then Your going to have to adapt and add more hardware to compair with the hardware your reviewing. Just look at any of the other major players reviews and you will soon see that Your view point needs to change if if Your ever going to compete with these sites and bring PcPer review up to a top notch site.

June 15, 2011 | 10:11 AM - Posted by Josh Walrath

As a counterpoint to that, if I offer the same type of review as "the big guys" what do I have that differentiates my writing from theirs? Personally when I go to Tom and Anand's, and am greeted by graphs that span 20 products, a lot gets skipped over. It really seems like a lot of noise to me, and I know I am not the only one who pays attention for the first couple of graphs... but then just skip over most of the rest. Unlike reviews like HardOCP, who only bench a couple of cards... but bench them very thoroughly and have some really tremendous insights into actual performance in realworld situations.

I try to take a middle approach to those, and offer a good selection of competing products, yet not overwhelming the reader with so much data that the true advantages and disadvantages of a card are lost because of the sheer amount of data being thrown at the reader.

October 12, 2011 | 10:54 PM - Posted by Mark Harry (not verified)

Anonymous can always go elsewhere to get his headache, I love Tom's and Anand, but overload comes to mind. You guys answered every question about this product and I think I'm buying it since I only have 10.5 inches of space. By the way I'm watching Ryan's stream crash live on TWIT, love you guys.

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