Final words and conclusion
Final Words & Conclusion
The HAWK edition graphics cards are the most high-end versions within a specific product line, meaning that the HAWK is the most enthusiast GTX 760 you'll be able to purchase from MSI. I say this specifically because it really is a little hard to explain the difference in-between the HAWK and the gamers editions from MSI. They look fairly similar and have the same cooler aside from a color change. But don't let the looks fool you though, the GTX 760 HAWK is by far more advanced. It is a very sturdy and quality design that offers more enthusiast features. At default this card has been clocked quite a bit higher then the gamers edition. Next to that it uses a different PCB, you get the extra's like DDM voltage monitoring and a secondary BIOS with LN2 mode. And what we noticed as a slightly higher then average voltage at default, resulting into better overclock yields. The design looks great, the cooling is awesome with low noise and very cool temperatures, but very important, these products are often merely a tenner or two more expensive opposed to the reference cards.
With the reference cards having a base-clock at 980 MHz, being factory clocked to 1111 MHz the magic is to be found in the boost clock as at that factory tweak the GPU all of the sudden finds its turbo frequency above 1176 MHz (when the power signature allows it to do so). As a result the GPU continuously is hovering in the 1150~1250 MHz range during gaming. Now a card like shown today with its factory tweak, well let me just say that it is absolutely golden for the guys and girls with a 1920x1080 and 1920x1200 range in monitor resolution, there's not a game out there that it can't deal with at this resolution. In Crysis 3 we end at an average of 42 FPS in 1920x1200 with Very High quality settings and that high resolution texture package and FXAA. Battlefield 3 is another example, with all eye candy opened up in game and again at 4xAA the card still pushes 58 FPS at 19x12 and that nearly equal to the GeForce GTX 680. So while this product might have two shader clusters less, the performance really remains exceptionally good and once the dynamic clock aka turbo kicks in.
MSI applied their TwinFrozr cooler solution which dramatically improves cooling performance. It is much better then reference cooling. Even better are the temperatures, we where hovering at give or take 67 Degrees C as highest logged entry after finishing up our entire benchmark suite. I must add that this was measured during a heat wave here in the Netherlands with ambient temps above 30 Degrees C! Overall that is just an awesome temperature, specially when you consider that all reference models will do 80 Degrees C and you can't hear the card at all. And that yellow stripe... well the most high end series SKUs from MSI can be matched together, have a peek:
As you have been able to see in our test sessions, the cooler does its job really well. The NVIDIA reference coolers are great, but they follow the temperature target of 80 degrees C. With the TwinFrozr IV cooler however the GPU will get way more cooling power at your disposal. As a result the temperature target might remain at roughly 67 degrees C. An added benefit of that is that the dynamic clock frequency will go higher up to the point it reached its power target. So this is why the card is so close and sometimes a small notch faster then some of the competition. Noise wise it's silent, you can hardly hear the card. Honestly, that's just really good.
The GeForce GTX 760 edition as tested today shows roughly 170 Watt peak power consumption at utilization with a modern game. Honestly that is pretty good as well. Not far off from reference, of course. But remember the 760 is injected in the graphics arena as a mid-range product, but comes with a high-end class GPU that has been limited a bit.
The MSI HAWK edition in most scenarios maybe is 5% slower than the GTX 670. However it tweaks better then any other card we tested. And that brings the card rather close to a nice 1400 MHz on the boost clock, if you know what you are doing overclocking wise you'll gain another 10% in performance. Drivers wise we can't complain at all, we did not stumble into any issues. And with a single GPU there's no micro-stuttering (if that ever bothered you) and no multi-GPU driver issues to fight off. Performance wise really there's not one game that won't run seriously good at the very best image quality settings.
Realistically whatever GeForce GTX 760 you will purchase doesn't matter that much with overclocking in mind, as NVIDIA effectively killed off that enticing and thrilling market by tightening and binning tweaking options. All this is related to the GPU power, voltage and temperature targets. Cards like HAWKS and Lightnings are designed to push much further but NVIDIA is keeping their foot down when it comes to these limitations and voltage restrictions. That right now is killing off the enthusiast market, and NVIDIA apparently just doesn't get the message from the enthusiast community, the guys that actually drive their sales.
MSI is being a little ballsy though, the Lightnings already have seen the light with an SE edition of MSI Afterburner and what we noticed with this HAWK is that the default GPU voltage is higher then reference. That yields into better tweaking potential. Overall the card at default is clocked pretty impressive making it the fastest GTX 760 we have tested to date. But tweaking wise to getting close to 1350~1400 MHz on the boost clock was impressive to see alright. So hat's off to MSI for managing that.
Add to that the good stuff that a HAWK card offers like the Military class components selection, a nice metal top- and back plate making the card very sturdy and preventing it from bending when mounted horizontally in the chassis. Then there's the TwinFrozr IV cooler that keeps the card nicely cooled without any noise, that doesn't suck I can tell you. Overall we feel that the MSI GeForce GTX 760 HAWK edition offers a tremendous amount of features and tweakability for money you need to pay for it. Put the card in LN2 mode, use AfterBurner, tweak a little and this product will blow away the competition. The MSI GeForce GTX 760 HAWK comes highly recommended by Guru3D.com