Article Index

Verdict

MSI may think the nighthawk fighter, implying stealth and surgical precision, inspires their HAWK cards but with their huge power delivery capability and overclocking potential, these graphic cards feels more like a bomber than a fighter.

Although not be fitted with the fastest GPU in the fleet, the card's brute force and voltage controls will make most enthusiasts feel comfortable enough to throw everything the card can give to reach their target of ever-higher performance and overclocks.

Both the Radeon R9 270X HAWK and GTX 760 HAWK can make an enthusiast feel like a pro overclocker without being too intimidating, yet still remain relevant to the ultra-elite overclocker.

We were sceptical of the N760 HAWK at first, assuming the two 8 pin connectors was a marketing gimmick and overkill for a performance mid-segment GPU with only a 170W TDP but once we understood the product's tweaking ability we were on-board with the idea and saw some impressive power consumption and overclock figures.

Which MSI HAWK is right for you depends on your brand loyalty or budget. Although there is a price difference, consider that NVIDIA is frequently changing their game bundle and support Shadowplay plus somewhat better game smoothness and frame rates while the AMD card is cheaper and offers better compute performance. AMD does offer 'raptr' as a value add competitor to NVIDIA GeForce Experience but at this time NVIDIA provides a better software suite for gamers.

The MSI R9 270X HAWK delivers great bang for under $300 bucks

For those who not have experienced NVIDIA Shadowplay, here is our sample of Crysis 3 recorded using the technology.

Pros/Cons

MSI R9 270X HAWK

Pros:

  • Card Aesthetics and visual design, F-117A Nighthawk motif will be liked by technology, aviation and military enthusiasts.
  • Sturdy mechanical build
  • Twin Frozr IV advanced cooler provides good cooling and acoustics.
  • Over-engineered and components PCB which not only allows for good overclocks, but encourages it with ease and * reliability
  • Requires only standard two 6-pin power connections
  • Phase LEDs on top of card
  • Value for money, small premium above lower spec MSI 270X

Cons:

  • OC-Kit connectors designed for open test bed and in bad position for case use
  • Poor accessory bundle for an enthusiast-oriented card
  • Naming of 'LN2' overclock mode somewhat misleading and discouraging
  • Memory not overclocked
  • No Game bundle
  • Too similar to the HAWK HD 7870 and not a recommended upgrade from it

MSI GTX 760 HAWK

Pros:

  • Card Aesthetics and visual design, F117A Nighthawk motif will be liked by technology, aviation and military enthusiasts.
  • Sturdy mechanical build
  • Twin Frozr IV advanced cooler provides good cooling and acoustics.
  • Over-engineered and components PCB which not only allows for good overclocks, but encourages it with ease and reliability
  • NVIDIA PhysX, GeForce Experience and Shadow Play software.
  • NVIDIA game bundles.

Cons:

  • OC-Kit connectors designed for open test bed and in bad position for case use
  • Poor accessory bundle for enthusiast-oriented card
  • Naming of 'LN2' overclock mode somewhat misleading and discouraging
  • Memory not overclocked
  • High Price for the GTX 760 HAWK, R9 270X HAWK provides better value for money.
  • No Phase LEDs like the AMD HAWKs
  • Not completely superior to the competitive AMD 270X HAWK
  • Overclocking when using out of box BIOS settings is restricted, likely by NVIDIA's policies

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