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MSI R6870 Hawk Graphics Card E-mail
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Written by Hank Tolman   
Friday, 04 March 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
MSI R6870 Hawk Graphics Card
Closer Look: MSI R6870 Hawk
MSI R6870 Hawk Detailed Features
Features and Specifications
Video Card Testing Methodology
DX10: 3DMark Vantage
DX9 SSAO: Mafia II
DX11: Aliens vs. Predator
DX11: Battlefield: Bad Company 2
DX11: DiRT-2 Demo
DX11: Lost Planet 2
DX11: Unigine Heaven 2.1
MSI R6870 Hawk Temperatures and Overclocking
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

MSI R6870 Hawk Detailed Features

When we take off the cover here, we can see that MSI strayed significantly from the reference design when building the R6870 Hawk. They even deviated from their original R6870 design, which followed the reference design very closely. The non-Hawk R6870 uses the Twin Frozr II design and the reference design has a blower wheel near the end of the board that funneled air over the components and out the I/O panel through a full shroud. The R6870 Hawk goes with the dual-fan Twin Frozr III design which incorporates propeller blades on the dual fans.


The propeller blades are 13 short, grooved blades on the fan that allow for a 20% increase in airflow and increases the range of airflow over the board. These fans are set atop a nickel-plated copper heatsink that uses SuperPipe technology. With the increased airflow over the heatsink and the three 6mm and two 8mm heat-pipes drawing heat out of the GPU, MSI promises the ability of the Twin Frozr III to decrease GPU temperature by up to 21 degrees. The reference design and R6870 heatsink was extremely small in comparison and only had two 6mm and one 8mm heat-pipes. Just from looking at it, the claim of 21 degrees cooler seems extremely possible. That's not to mention the 7dB quieter that MSI also claims.


While the reference design for the Radeon HD 6870 and the original R6870 switched up the placement of the voltage regulator modules, and used a 4-phase PWM design. The R6870 Hawk switches things back and bumps it up to an 8-phase design. The cooling method on the R6870 Hawk allows for better airflow where the VRM is situated now, and having it closer to the power supply section is always a good idea. The 8(+2) phase design should offer double the amount of current as the 4(+1) design used in the original R6870, up to 160A rather than 80A.


MSI went all out on the components used for the R6870 Hawk. On the front of the box, they tout these components as being Military Class II components. This includes using Hi-C Cap (Highly Conductive Capacitors) with a Tantalum cores that are very stable and can provide up to 15x less leakage. Also used are Super Ferrite Chokes that should provide up to a 10% improvement in efficiency and up to a 30% improvement in current capacity. Finally, the R6870 Hawk uses all solid-state capacitors which are more efficient, run cooler, and have a longer life span than the alternative.


On the back side of the board we have a little close-up so you can see the care that MSI took with solder quality and component placement. Some of the areas on the PCB can get rather crowded and any left-over solder or an out of place part can cause a short or other problem to occur and fry the card. Some residue in crowded areas of the board can be expected due to the different processes used to clean the solder off and mass production of cards, but overall, the board has an excellent design quality.


Keeping all this information in mind, let's take a look at the official features and specifications published by AMD and MSI.


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