|MSI R6870 Hawk Graphics Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Hank Tolman|
|Friday, 04 March 2011|
Page 13 of 14
MSI R6870 Hawk Temperatures
It's hard to know exactly when the first video card got overclocked, and by whom. What we do know is that it's hard to imagine a computer enthusiast or gamer today that doesn't overclock their hardware. Of course, not every video card has the head room. Some products run so hot that they can't suffer any higher temperatures than they generate straight from the factory. This is why we measure the operating temperature of the video card products we test.
Before stressing the video card to its extremes, I want to get a good baseline for how the card runs at idle. I use GPU-Z to measure the temperature reported by the GPU to get this number. After that's taken care of I want to really stress the card. I use FurMark to do this. It is important to remember that, with FurMark, we will get temperature and power consumption numbers that are probably far above anything a game could produce. I run FurMark at full blast on the stress settings with everything turned all the way for 20 minutes before checking the temps. At the same time, the idle temps were taken after sitting at the desktop for 20 min after a cool start up. While checking the temperatures, the ambient room temperature remained stable at 22C. I use an open-air test bench for testing, so air restriction is not a problem.
Now, the MSI R6870 Hawk touts up to 21 degree cooler temperatures than the reference design. When Olin tested the Radeon HD 6870 reference design with ambient temperatures of 20C, he found idle temps of 39C and load temps of 74C. Keeping in mind that my ambien temperature is a couple of degrees warmer, these are the numbers I got.
At idle, the MSI R6870 Hawk comes in at a cool 35C. A very cool 36C. That's a very low temperature, and it looks like the Twin Frozr III with propeller blade design is starting off successfully. To add to that, with FurMark running at full blast, and the Twin Frozr III dual-fans running on auto-pilot, the temperature of the card reaches a mere 64C. That's 10C lower than the reference design already and, to be honest, I couldn't hear the fan over the natural noises of my office. Because I couldn't hear the fan unless I put my ear next to it, I decided to crank it up to 100%, just to see how loud it was and if it made a significant difference in the temperature. The fan was significantly louder when turned up to 100%. That being said, it wasn't unbearably so. At 100% fan speed, the MSI R6870 came in at 56C. That's 18C cooler than the reference design. Add in the 2C extra ambient room temperature and we are coming within spitting range of that 21 degree difference MSI called for. Very impressive. Let's see how it does while overclocked.
With MSI Afterburner now offering in-depth ability to overvolt the GPU and the memory, we were able to achieve a good overclock on the MSI R6870 Hawk of 1000MHz on the clock speed and 1170MHz on the memory clocks. We'll talk more about how in a second, but what is amazing is that the idle temperatures only rose by 3C over the stock clock speeds. At load and auto fan settings, the temperature rose 5C, the same with the fan on 100%. That's still 13C cooler than the reference design. Keep in mind that I didn't test the reference design, so there are a lot of factors to take into consideration. That being said, the MSI R6870 Hawk is an extremely cool running card, great for overclocking and gaming.
Since Afterburner got its upgrade, overclocking has become a lot less limited. With the 8-phase power control on the MSI R6870 Hawk, the potential upside is very good. I loaded up Afterburner to get into overclocking the MSI R6870 Hawk and I had a lot of fun with it.
I increased the auxiliary voltage and memory voltage for the MSI R6870 Hawk using Afterburner by the maximum available values. For the GPU core voltage I slowly increased until I reached a value of 920. Anything above this seemed to have a detrimental impact on the performance of the card, even if it did run stably. In the end, I was able to achieve a very nice result with the overclocking. The MSI R6870 Hawk reached a GPU core clock speed of 1000MHz, up from the already OC'd 930MHz it came with and the 900MHz reference design clock. That constitutes an increase of about 7%. With the memory, I was able to achieve stability at 1170MHz, up from 1050MHz, which is standard for the Radeon HD 6870. That increase is about 11.5%.
All the overclocking in world may be fun and exciting, but if it doesn't translate into increased performance, then what was the point? The increase in clock speed I was able to pull out of the MSI R6870 Hawk translated into a few extra FPS in most of our benchmarks.