There's no way around it, the R6870 HAWK is a very impressive product. See, the reference R6870 all by itself is obviously already a great value product that offers good performance. MSI upped that up a notch by the (though petit) standard overclock.
The HAWK however is not about that shy standard overclock, it's about build quality, sturdy and cool looks and sure, the exemplary cooling. The new TwiNFrozr III cooler definitely managed to impress me. With the help of a little switch you can setup the silent or performance mode and yeah, the card even at the performance mode switch remains silent while keeping GPU temperatures below 65 Degrees C under full load, that's just good.
Combined with the latest revision of MSI AfterBurner you can tweak the card much further though. Without voltage tweaking you'll reach say 950~975 MHz on the graphics processor core. But really, when you buy a card of this caliber and do not apply even a little extra voltage on the GPU, well it would be a shame really. At 1.25V you will be able to pass that 1 GHz barrier, in fact we reached 1044 MHz on the GPU completely stable. Small tip, if you decide to tweak with added voltages, please bare in mind that you should only increase the voltage when needed.
We got the gDDR5 memory clocked (effective data-rate) to 4800 MHz stable as well. These two tweaks ensure you gain another chunk in performance.
The HAWK as such is an exemplary product in many ways, the problem with it is the recent price drop and introduction of the R6950 1GB, you can purchase that product at 230 EUR already, and that's the same price as the HAWK. At default that product is at least as fast or slightly faster and that might hinder the HAWK as GPU specs wise, the 6950 1GB is simply more advanced. But as you have been able to see, performance wise you'll have noting to complain about, pretty much any game up-to 1920x1200 will run just fine with a decent set of image quality preferences enabled. The R6870 is a nice success story, and the HAWK brings it a level higher.
If you can find the MSI R6870 HAWK for the right price, we can wholeheartedly recommend the product. The sheer design and quality components alone make this an awesome product, and is something that the more tweaking and enthusiast crowd will like very much.
Definitely recommended for your average hardware tweaker.
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