|MSI N460GTX HAWK GeForce GTX 460|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Bruce Normann|
|Friday, 24 September 2010|
Page 19 of 19
MSI N460GTX HAWK Conclusion
From a performance standpoint, it's impossible to argue with the numbers this card puts up, at its price point. As I hypothesized in my Final Thoughts, this is really a 5850-class card from a technology standpoint, and it performed like one. Overclocked far beyond its standard operating point, to 950 MHz on the core, it sweeps the field in its market segment and takes a surprise swing at the next level up. The cooling performance is the best available for this chip, at the moment, including the noise required to achieve it, which was quite low. I was very happy with the standard fan settings, as the default curve is aimed at performance users and the cooler has so much headroom available. The combination of a new low-power Fermi GPU and an over-designed cooler kept operating temperatures very low during both intensive gaming and brutal stress testing.
The appearance of the MSI N460 GTX HAWK video card is very attractive, and yet somewhat conservative. MSI did a nice job producing a subtle design that is business-like, yet manages to show off its muscles at the same time. Kind of like early Schwarzenegger in an Italian suit. The anodized aluminum shroud does a good job of avoiding fingerprints without being a dull expanse of grey. They have definitely improved on the earlier version of the Twin Frozr cooler in terms of visual design.
The build quality of the MSI N460GTX HAWK card was quite good. Everything is assembled well, everything fit when I put it back together, and the overall impression of the card was very solid. The cooler adds a certain heft to the card and also lends a good deal of solidity to the package. The packaging was of the highest quality and very informative. The front panel lifts up to showcase a large display of all the many features this card incorporates. I was not as impressed by the manufacturing quality of the PC board, which still had too much residue from the wave solder/cleaning process for my liking. The unique power supply arrangement used all high quality parts, and was clearly intended to be a class leading design. I pushed this card to the wall repeatedly, and it never complained once.
I also have to give top marks to the new MSI Afterburner software. The full scope of voltage adjustment for the GPU core, memory, and PLL components puts this free, bundled software at the top of the heap. There are other tools available which will work just fine on reference hardware, but the new version 2.0.0 is the icing on the cake for this very special hardware.
The basic features of the MSI N460GTX are fully comparable with the latest offerings from both camps. It has: Microsoft DirectX 11 Support, PhysX Technology, is 3D Vision Ready, also 3D Vision Surround Ready, CUDA Technology, SLI, 32x Anti-aliasing, PureVideo HD, and HDMI 1.4a support. We've been using some of these same, or competitive, technologies on a whole host of Radeon 5xxx cards since last September. Still, it's good to finally have rough parity in the features and functions arena. All the other features are directly related to extracting the full raw computing power from the GPU, and are covered elsewhere on this page.
As of late September 2010, the price for the MSI N460GTX HAWK is $189.99 at Amazon or NewEgg. There is currently a $10 MIR available and MSI is giving away free STEAM codes for Metro 2033 with every GTX460 they sell, so consider that in your purchasing decisions. It's hard to find a bad deal for any of the GTX460 cards; even if you are paying a premium for certain features, more memory, or a software bundle, the price-to-performance ratio is so good, there's not a lot of downside anywhere. This particular model offers the best cooling subsystem available for the GTX460 GPU and arguably the best power section as well, and the price adder for all that is between negligible and non-existent. I rate it as a real bargain for that reason.
Let's face it, almost any GTX460 card is going to get high marks at this stage of the game. NVIDIA has priced it very aggressively, and until ATI responds with some serious price cuts, or releases its next generation of video cards, this is the card to beat in the $200-$250 price range. It's pretty obvious from all the reporting that's been done already, that early production units of the GF104 have tons of overclocking headroom. I got 950 MHz on the core clock with very little effort, and the Twin Frozr cooler kept the temperatures well below 60C no matter how hard I stressed the card. If you really want to push your graphics card to the max and beyond, without worrying about cooking the GPU, this is the GTX 460 card to buy.
+ Incredibly effective cooling system
- Imagine what this card could do with binned GPUs
Final Score: 9.15 out of 10.
Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.
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