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MSI GeForce GTX 460 1GB Hawk Review

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Metro 2033 (DX11)

Metro 2033 (DX11)


There has been a lot of buzz about Metro 2033 which has mostly centered on its amazing graphics coupled with absolutely brutal framerates on even the best GPUs on the market. For this test we use a walkthrough and combat scene from The Bridge level which starts at the beginning of the level and lasts for about 3 minutes of walking, running and combat. Famerates are measured with FRAPS and Advanced PhysX is turned off.


1680 x 1050

HAWK-73.jpg


1920 x 1200

HAWK-74.jpg


2560 x 1600

HAWK-75.jpg
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Unigine: Heaven v2.0 (DX11)

Unigine: Heaven v2.0 (DX11)


Unigine’s Heaven benchmark is currently the de-facto standard when it comes to simple, straightforward DX11 performance estimates. While it is considered a synthetic benchmark by many, it is important to remember that no less than four games based on this engine will be released within the next year or so. In this test we will be using a standard benchmark run with and without tessellation enabled at three resolutions,


1680 x 1050

HAWK-76.jpg


HAWK-77.jpg


1920 x 1200

HAWK-78.jpg


HAWK-79.jpg


2560 x 1600

HAWK-80.jpg


HAWK-81.jpg
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Messages
12,841
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8xMSAA Testing

8xMSAA Testing


In this section we take a number of games we have tested previously in this review and bring things to the next level by pushing the in-game MSAA up to 8x. All other methodologies remain the same.


BattleField: Bad Company 2 (DX11)
Note that 8x MSAA is enabled via the game’s config file for the NVIDIA cards since it is not a selectable option within the game menu

HAWK-52.jpg


Dirt 2 (DX11)

HAWK-59.jpg


F1 2010 (DX11)

HAWK-91.jpg


Just Cause 2 (DX10)

HAWK-66.jpg
 

SKYMTL

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Temperature & Acoustics / Power Consumption

Core Temperature & Acoustics


For all temperature testing, the cards were placed on an open test bench with a single 120mm 1200RPM fan placed ~8” away from the heatsink. The ambient temperature was kept at a constant 22°C (+/- 0.5°C). If the ambient temperatures rose above 23°C at any time throughout the test, all benchmarking was stopped. For this test we use the 3DMark Batch Size test at it highest triangle count with 4xAA and 16xAF enabled and looped it for one hour to determine the peak load temperature as measured by GPU-Z.

For Idle tests, we let the system idle at the Windows 7 desktop for 15 minutes and recorded the peak temperature.


HAWK-83.jpg

Twin Frozr heatsinks have never ceased to impress and with numbers like these, it’s no wonder MSI’s design is considered one of the best around. The acoustics are near perfect as well without any perceptible noise.


System Power Consumption


For this test we hooked up our power supply to a UPM power meter that will log the power consumption of the whole system twice every second. In order to stress the GPU as much as possible we once again use the Batch Render test in 3DMark06 and let it run for 30 minutes to determine the peak power consumption while letting the card sit at a stable Windows desktop for 30 minutes to determine the peak idle power consumption. We have also included several other tests as well.

Please note that after extensive testing, we have found that simply plugging in a power meter to a wall outlet or UPS will NOT give you accurate power consumption numbers due to slight changes in the input voltage. Thus we use a Tripp-Lite 1800W line conditioner between the 120V outlet and the power meter.

HAWK-82.jpg

Unfortunately, power consumption for this card is quite high when compared to the latest generation of NVIDIA and AMD products. This is the one area which the GTX 460 really does fall flat; especially when overclocked.
 

SKYMTL

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Overclocking Results

Overclocking Results


By using a combination of MSI's AfterBurner overclocking software and their Kombustor artifact checking utility, stability was relatively easy to achieve for short spurts above the 925Mhz mark but complete in-game stability was only attainable a 915Mhz on the core. Even with a vCore bump to 1.1V, this was as high as this card would go. Nonetheless, MSI has to be complimented for releasing some excellent software.

The GDDR5 meanwhile reached the same levels we have come to expect from GTX 460 cards.


Core Speed: 915Mhz
Memory Speed: 4220Mhz (QDR)


HAWK-94.jpg
 

SKYMTL

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Conclusion

Conclusion


Some of you may remember that a few years ago MSI was in a bit of a funk. Their products didn’t really stand out as unique when compared to their competition, the prices weren’t particularly attractive and availability was slim at best. In the past 18 months or so, a new team has essentially turned the ship around and we are now seeing unique, well priced products like the Hawk series of graphics cards.

With the recent introduction of NVIDIA’s GTX 560 Ti many were predicting the quick demise of GTX 460 cards but instead of fading away, they have lived on with substantially reduced prices. Indeed, even our retailer contacts say that more GTX 460 1GB cards are selling now than ever before.

With a price of about $185 USD depending on where you look, MSI’s Hawk offers up some enticing performance numbers for a large portion of today’s consumer base. It does run into some tough competition every now and then in the form of AMD’s HD 6850 though. In most cases the HD 6850 put forth framerates that were within spitting distance of the Hawk while retailing for slightly under $170.

The disparity in price coupled with a similarity in performance may lead you to believe the choice between a HD 6850 1GB and the Hawk is a bit of a toss-up. You’d be right. AMD’s card holds the edge in efficiency and price while this particular GTX 460 wins the average framerate, noise and thermal performance crowns. In the end, the final choice will likely boil down to vendor preference.

The MSI Hawk is a great card which retails for a price that will ensure mass market appeal. Granted, the voltage read points will be completely pointless for the vast majority of consumers but all of the other features just add to its already outstanding value.


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