As impressive as reference cards can be when they are introduced, it’s always impressive to see what all of the manufactures do with them when they have a little time to toy with the overclocks and fit their aftermarket cooling designs. A good example would be the card I’m going to take a look at today. The MSI GTX 760 Hawk looks similar to the GTX 780 Gaming that I recently took a look at, but with a yellow theme that would go perfectly with their new Z87 M Power motherboard. I wonder how it will perform compared to the reference GTX 760 as well as the aftermarket cards. They set the mark high, so MSI is going to have their work cut out for them.

 

Product Name: MSI GTX 760 Hawk

Review Sample Provided by: MSI

Written by: Wes

Pictures by: Wes

 

Specifications

Model Name

N760 HAWK

Model

V300

GPU

Nvidia GeForce GTX 760

Codename

GK104

CUDA Core

1152 Units

Core Base Clock

1111 MHz

Core Boost Clock

1176 MHz

Memory Clock

6008 MHz

Memory Size

2048 MB GDDR5

Memory Bus

256 bits

Output

DisplayPort / HDMI /

DL-DVI-I / DL-DVI-D

Power Consumption

170W

Card Dimensions

264 x 130 x 40mm

Form Factor

ATX

 


Packaging

Although the GTX 760 Hawk uses the same overall layout that we have seen on other MSI video cards, there is a clear difference with the cover having a full picture of a F17 fighter plane all the way across it. You can see the OC certified logo in the top right corner as well as the GTX 760 branding on the bottom right corner. Under the Hawk name you can see how much memory you are getting as well as PCI Express 3.0 and DirectX 11. All of the important information is there while still keeping it all clean. I can’t help but think in a retail setting that a photo of the great looking card itself would really get people’s attention though. The front of the box does open up to have more details information on the cards cooler, overclocking features, and military class 4 components.

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Because of the information inside the front cover, the back gets right to the point with a feature list, minimum specifications, and a full specifications listing. It’s great to see that they can put the specifications on the box rather than keeping things ambiguous like other manufactures do to be able to use the packaging on multiple models.

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Inside the packaging you will find a box sitting on top with all of your accessories and then under it the GTX 760 Hawk is wrapped up in a static protective bag and places in foam to keep it from moving around. Inside the accessories box you will find a quick start guide and a driver disk, a DVI to VGA adapter, three voltage reading headers, and two six to 8 pin adapters. I like the red and black theme that they went with, this is much better than the mixed colors that you would normally see on adapters like this.

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Card Layout and Photos

At first glance one might think that the GTX 760 Hawk is just a yellow themed GTX 760 TwinFrozr from the outside appearance. It isn’t really until you look a little close that you see Hawk branding on the card at all actually. You will find the stealth F17 and the Hawk logo on the centers of the two fans. If you look even closer though you will catch that the PCB itself says Hawk on it, obviously MSI has done a little bit more to this card than just toss on a little yellow. They went with a custom PCB design that is considerably longer than the reference design in order for them to be able to slip in two additional PWM phases. The longer PCB also helps the GTX 760 Hawk support the length of the TwinFrozr IV cooler. Speaking of the TwinFrozr cooling, MSI is using their Propeller Blade Technology that provided 20% more airflow than a traditional fan design of the same size. They also sport their dust removal technology that spins the fans in reverse on bootup to kick off any dust or in my case cat hair that may have collected.

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Because it is one of the only parts of the card that you will actually see when it is installed in your case, the top edge of the GTX 760 Hawk does have a MSI logo on the fan shroud. It would be nice if there was also a GTX 760 Hawk badge though to really show off the card.

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The TwinFrozr cooling on the GTX 760 Hawk is sporting a total of five heatpipes to pull the heat from the GPU and out onto the cards heatsink. Four of the five heatpipes are on the bottom while the last heatpipe on the top that goes out to the cards farthest point is much thicker than the others. The nickel-plated finish on each heatpipe really gives the card a great look when you can see them, especially from the bottom. It’s a shame that hardly anyone will see them once the card is installed in a PC. MSI used a bracket from the PCI slot cover all the way to the backplate to give the card even more strength, this same design was used on the GTX 780 Gaming as well.

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One of the cards key overclocking features are the three voltage check points on the end of the card. As you may have seen in the packaging section MSI included small adapters that plug into these headers to make it easier to plug your multi-meter prongs into while adjusting your overclock. You can also see here that the fan shroud design is open on the end of the card meaning some of the heat generated by the card will vent into your case. This isn’t a big deal in most cases but if your case struggles with heat already you may want to keep it in mind.  

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Although MSI calls the backplate a second heatsink, in my book it is a typical backplate like we have seen on a few cards in the past. I really wish we saw backplates on more cards because not only do they strengthen the card but they also protect the PCB from damage when you are handling it and even in your computer. The only downside is a backplate like this also cuts into the space between two cards if for some reason you are forced to run two cards up against each other rather than spacing them out at all. Another feature here on the back of the card is the dual BIOS switch that MSI included for overclockers to be able to switch between a normal over from a normal BIOS to their LN2 BIOS for example.

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The MSI GTX 760 Hawk has the same two SLI bridge connections that the other GTX 760’s also have. That means you can run them in triple SLI if you decide that two in SLI isn’t enough for your needs.

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All you have to do is look at the two 8-pin power connections to know that MSI means business with the Hawk. The reference card has two 6-pin connections and the two other overclocked cards that I have covered sport an 8-pin/6-pin combination.

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The MSI GTX 760 Hawk has all of the same connections that we saw on other GTX 760’s. You get a full sized DisplayPort, a full sized HDMI, and two DVI connections. There is a good amount of ventilation on the PCI cover as well including a small bit in between the HDMI and DVI ports.

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Our Test Rig and Procedures

Our Test Rig

CPU

Intel i7-3960X

Memory

Corsair Vengeance 1600 MHz DDR3 RAM Quad Channel  (4x4GB)

Motherboard

Asus Rampage IV X79 Motherboard 

Cooling

Intel Active Thermal Solution RTS2011LC

Power Supply

Cooler Master Gold Series 1200 Watt PSU

Storage

Kingston Hyper X 120 SSD

Seagate Constellation 2tb Hard drive 

Case

High Speed PC Test Bench

Our Testing Procedures

Bioshock Infinite 

Using the Adrenaline Action Benchmark Tool we run Bioshock Infinite on the “Xtreme” quality setting. This has a resolution of 1920x1080, FXAA turned on, Ultra Texture detail, 16x Aniso Texture Filtering, Ultra Dynamic Shadows, Normal Postprocessing, Light Shafts on, Ambient Occlusion set to ultra, and the Level of Detail set to Ultra as well.

Tomb Raider

Using the Adrenaline Action Benchmark Tool we run Tomb Raider on the “Xtreme” quality setting. This has a resolution of 1920x1080, Exclusive Fullscreen turned on, Anti-Aliasing set to 2xSSAA, Texture Quality set to Ultra, Texture Aniso set to 16x Aniso, Hair Quality set to TressFX, Shadow set to Normal, Shadow Resolution on High, Ultra SSAO, Ultra Depth of Field, High Reflection quality, Ultra LOD scale, Post Processing On, High Precision RT turned on, and Tessellation is also turned on. 

Hitman: Absolution

Using the Adrenaline Action Benchmark Tool we run Hitman: Absolution on the “Xtreme” quality setting other than the MSAA setting is turned down from 8x to 2x. That setting puts the resolution at 1920x1080, MSAA is set to 2x, Texture Quality is set to High, Texture Aniso is set to 16x, Shadows are on Ultra, SSA is set to high, Global Illumination is turned on, Reflections are set to High, FXAA is on, Level of Detail is set to Ultra, Depth of Field is high, Tessellation is turned on, and Bloom is set to normal.

Sleeping Dogs

Using the Adrenaline Action Benchmark Tool we run Sleeping Dogs on the “Xtreme” quality setting. That means our resolution is set to 1920x1080, Anti-Aliasing is set to Extreme, Texture Quality is set to High-Res, Shadow Quality is High, Shadow Filter is set to high, SSAO is set to High, Motion Blur Level is set to High, and World Density is set to Extreme.

F1 2012

We use the built in benchmark for F1 2012. We set our resolution to 1920x1080 and then use the “Ultra” setting.

Batman Arkham Asylum

We used the built-in benchmark set to 1920 x 1080, Multi Sample AA 16XQ, Detail Level, Very High, Bloom: Yes, Dynamic Shadows: Yes, Motion Blur: Yes, Distortion: Yes, Fog Volumes: Yes, Spherical Harmonic Lighting: Yes, Ambient Occlusion: Yes, PhysX: Off

Total War: Shogun 2

Direct X11 Benchmark High setting

Crysis 2

Using Adrenaline Crysis 2 benchmark.  1080p, 4x Anti-Aliasing, DX11, Laplace Edge Detection Edge AA, on the Times Square map, with hi res textures turned on.

Battlefield 3

Using Fraps with the game set to Ultra settings with 4x MSAA Antialiasing Deferred, 16X Anisotropic Filter, at 1920x1080.

Sniper V2 Elite

1920 x 1080 resolution, graphics detail set to ultra

Dirt Showdown

1920 x 1080 resolution, 4x MSAA multisampling, Vsync off, Shadows: ultra; Post Process: High; Night Lighting: High; Vehicle Reflections: Ultra; Ambient Occlusion: Ultra; Water: high; Objects: Ultra; Trees: Ultra; Crowd: Ultra; Ground Cover: High.

Metro Last Light

Using the included benchmark tool. The settings are set to 1920x1080, DirectX 11, quality is set to very high, Texture filtering is untouched at 4x, and motion blue is set to normal. SSAA is unselected, PhysX is unselected, Tessellation is off. We run through scene D6 three times to get an average score.

Synthetic Benchmarks

For video cards our synthetic benchmarks are limited to 3DMark Vantage 2011, and 3DMark 2013 (AKA 3DMark). In 3DMark Vantage 2011 we run both performance and extreme benchmarks. The same goes for the most current version of 3DMark, we run through Fire Strike on standard and extreme settings.

Unreal Heaven Benchmark 4.0

Using the “Extreme” preset

Unreal Heaven Benchmark 4.0 heat testing

We run through Unreal Heaven at 1080p for 30 minutes to test in game heat performance and noise output of the card while under load.

Power Usage

Using Unreal Heaven Benchmark 4.0, we get our “load” power usage number from the peak power usage during our test. We get our numbers from a Kill-A-Watt connected to the test benches power cord.

Noise Testing

Our Noise testing is done using a decibel meter 3 inches away from the video card on the bottom/fan side of the card. We test an idle noise level and then to get an idea of how loud the card will get if it warms all the way up we also turn the fan speed up to 100% and test again. The 100% test isn’t a representation of typical in game noise levels, but it will show you how loud a card can be if you run it at its highest setting or if it gets very hot.

 


Software

A few of the manufactures have gone above and beyond over the past few years to provide software to help your experience with your new card. MSI is one of those manufactures. Much like Asus, their software is designed to work with both their AMD and Nvidia offerings. This makes life easier for someone like me who is constantly swapping out cards and it also helps to only have one file to pick from over one for each.

MSI’s software is called Afterburner and I have been using it off and on since its introduction. The base functionality hasn’t changed much. Just like the other companies offerings you can adjust your power and temperature limits, toy with your memory and core clocks, and even adjust the fan speed. Where MSI has managed to stand out in my opinion is with the built in screen shot and video recording functions. As someone who uses fraps a lot for this same reason, it’s nice to have a free option that does the same thing. It’s especially cool because I would already want to run afterburner anyhow to keep an eye on my video card.

Another option that MSI offers is a voltage slider. EVGA for example hides there’s and hardly gives you any adjustability. If you change your config file in afterburner you can go nuts with toying with your voltage (up to +12 that is). Of course you want to keep in mind that you can damage your card by doing this.

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Cooling, Noise, and Power

Although there might be more to the GTX 760 Hawk than just what you can see on the outside, I can’t help and think back to the amazing performance we have previously seen from the other TwinFrozr cards in the past, because of that I was excited to see how it performed compared to the other GTX 760’s that I have tested in the past. To start things off I went with the temperature testing while running Heaven Benchmark 4.0. The GTX 760 Hawk came in within a degree of the EVGA offering while the Gigabyte triple fan design did out-perform it. The reference card on the other hand was 12 degrees hotter meaning the TwinFrozr cooling did its job outperformed the stock design. Of course with a considerably higher overclock over the other 760’s the Hawk’s performance is even more impressive.

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As you will see right away the MSI GTX 760 Hawk is down near the bottom in both of our tests. I especially like the 100% load noise levels the Hawk is actually within 4 decibels of the idle noise levels on a few other cards and a well below what the Gigabyte Windforce GTX 760 did.

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With a unique PCB design and two additional PWM I was curious if it would make a big difference in power usage. I found the idle results to be spot on with the other GTX 760’s but under load the MSI GTX 760 Hawk did pull another 8 watts over what we saw with the Gigabyte card and 25 watts over the reference design! That puts it up within 11 watts of the GTX 770 cards even. I hope the overclocking and performance is worth the additional draw.

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Synthetic Benchmarks

Before we get into the results from my synthetic benchmarks I also wanted to point out the various base clocks from the other GTX 760’s that I have tested.

GTX 760 Base Clock Speeds

MSI GTX 760 Hawk

1111MHz

Gigabyte GTX 760 Windforce

1085MHz

EVGA GTX 760 Superclocked ACX

1072MHz

Reference Card

980MHz


As you can see, ALL of the overclocked 760’s I have tested have a noticeable increase over stock and the GTX 760 Hawk stands high above them. Because of that I do have fairly high hopes for its performance.

The performance numbers did live up to my expectations. In 3DMark Fire Strike for example the Hawk pulled a 6685 compared to 6300’s for the overclocked cards and a 6147 from the reference card. I would say that is a major jump in performance. Similar results were found in 3DMark 11 and Heaven benchmark as well.

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In Game Benchmarks

The MSI GTX 760 Hawk performed well in the synthetic benchmarks but we all know in game performance is what it’s all about right? Most of us build our PC’s specifically too game, so if it doesn’t do well there none of the other stuff matters. The MSI GTX 760 Hawk showed a similar bump in performance as in the synthetic benchmarks, this translated to at least 2-3 FPS in most games. This was enough to bring the numbers up fairly close to the results from the GTX 680 in some cases as well as the GTX 770. That wasn’t in every game, games like Tomb Raider where the FPS was lower overall, I saw a much bigger gap between the GTX 770/680 and the GTX 760 Hawk. It’s still interesting to see what big overclock will do though. All in all you are going to see playable frame rates in every game that you can toss at it with the settings turned up. If you are looking for 60FPS there will be a few games that you may need to turn off or turn down AA slightly.

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Overclocking

Much like all of the other GTX 760’s I put the MSI GTX 760 Hawk through our normal overclock testing. That means I tweaked to see how high I could get the GPU and Memory clocks while running the card through test two on 3DMark 11 for a short load test. All of my testing is with the power limit set as high as possible as well as the fan on 100% to make sure temperatures aren’t holding things back. I started with GPU Clock Speed overclocking and almost immediately hit my limit when I attempted a 200MHz offset as well as 150MHz offset. After some playing I found that 140MHz offset was the highest I could go without any crashes. This took my FPS up from 42.70 to 46.57.

On to memory clock overclocking I started extremely aggressive with a 300MHz offset and without any issues continued to push things up over and over. When I hit 600 I started jumping up in 50MHz increments because I was a little more worried that I was going to damage the card. Even so I was able to keep pushing the Hawk all the way up to an 850MHz offset before I had issues at 900MHz. That put my highest test result all the way at 3856MHz aka 7712MHz, a VERY impressive number. This is much higher than the 3602MHz I was able to eek out of the reference GTX 760.

GPU Clock Speed Overclocking

GPU Clock Speed Offset

Pass/Fail

Resulting GPU Speed

FPS Result

Notes

0Mhz

Pass

1267Mhz

42.70

 

100Mhz

Pass

1359Mhz

45.43

 

200Mhz

Fail

1463Mhz

N/A

Driver Crash

150MHz

Fail

1411MHz

N/A

Driver Crash

130MHz

Pass

1385MHz

46.20

 

140MHz

Pass

1398MHz

46.57

 

145MHz

Fail

1411MHz

N/A

Driver crash

 

Memory Clock Offset Overclocking

Memory Clock Speed Offset

Pass/Fail

Resulting Memory Speed

FPS Result

Notes

300Mhz

Pass

3305Mhz

43.02

 

400Mhz

Pass

3402Mhz

43.11

 

500Mhz

Pass

3506Mhz

43.18

 

550MHz

Pass

3557MHz

43.23

 

600MHz

Pass

3602MHz

43.25

 

650MHz

Pass

3649MHz

43.29

 

700MHz

Pass

3703MHz

43.33

 

750MHz

Pass

3758MHz

43.35

 

800MhZ

Pass

3802Mhz

43.40

 

850MhZ

Pass

3856Mhz

43.41

 

900Mhz

Fail

N/A

N/A

Artifact’s

 

 


Overall and Final Verdict

For the first time in a very long time, when I was putting together my Pro’s and Con’s for the MSI GTX 760 Hawk I actually ran out of room in the Pro’s section. If you have read any of the previous sections you will find that the Hawk out performs all of the other GTX 760 options in cooling, synthetic benchmarks, in game benchmarks, and even overclocking.

There are only two areas where the Hawk didn’t top the charts for its class; first its power draw was considerably higher than any other GTX 760 that I have tested. The second area we have yet to talk about is price. I’m told that the Hawk will come in at 289.99 or 299.99. Even the lesser amount is about $40 more than the other GTX 760’s. But you are getting a lot more card for the additional money. Along with the additional performance, you are getting a backplate, two more PWM’s, and one of the best coolers on the market.

Considering the price gap between the GTX 760 and the GTX 770, I think MSI has a great card here. Additionally, for those looking at this card for overclocking, I can say without a doubt that even though my numbers are great. There is still more performance to be had once you get into toying with the voltages as well. 

fv3tophonorseditorschoice

Author Bio
garfi3ld
Author: garfi3ldWebsite: http://lanoc.org
Editor-in-chief
You might call him obsessed or just a hardcore geek. Wes's obsession with gaming hardware and gadgets isn't anything new, he could be found taking things apart even as a child. When not poking around in PC's he can be found playing League of Legends, Awesomenauts, or Civilization 5 or watching a wide variety of TV shows and Movies. A car guy at heart, the same things that draw him into tweaking cars apply when building good looking fast computers. If you are interested in writing for Wes here at LanOC you can reach out to him directly using our contact form.

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garfi3ld replied the topic: #32037 07 Aug 2013 20:13
Today I take a look at something special from MSI, check out the GTX 760 Hawk!

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