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MSI GeForce GTX 460 1GB HAWK
Date 12th November 2010
Author DiGiTaL MoNkEY
Editor James "Agg" Rolfe
Manufacturer MSI


Today we take a look at MSI's unique take on NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 460 1GB. In this article we cover the features MSI's engineers implemented into this HAWK edition, as well as how it compares to a similarly priced AMD graphics card, and of course performance when overclocked.

The MSI GeForce GTX 460 1GB HAWK measures in at 238 x 111 x 37 mm in size and a minimum of 450W or greater system power supply is recommended (with a minimum 12V current rating of 24A). As with all cards in NVIDIA's mainstream to high end 400-series segment, it features support for NVIDIA's SLI multi-GPU technology, 3D Vision, 3D Vision Surround, PhysX acceleration, Microsoft's DirectX 11 game support as well as a variety of video enhancement technologies under the NVIDIA PureVideo umbrella.

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Inside the box we find a quick user's guide and a more detailed manual for the features and general requirements of the video card. A software and driver disc for installation is also included. Two PCI-Express 6-pin to Molex power connectors are present, as well as a mini-HDMI to HDMI converter and DVI to VGA converter. One neat and unique feature is the three short black and red cables that connect to the three voltage monitoring plugs at the end of the card, allowing you to use a multimeter or similar device to keep an eye on the voltages directly.

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MSI's GeForce GTX 460 HAWK conforms to the reference for connectors, which include a pair of dual-link DVI outputs along with a mini-HDMI (version 1.4a) output header. It also features enhanced audio support over HDMI, which includes bitstreaming support for both Dolby True HD and DTS-HD Master Audio over HDMI with the supporting software packages.

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On the top of the card we find a single SLI connector; due to the mainstream nature of this card NVIDIA has limited its scaling abilities to two cards. While most enthusiast would love to tri-SLI three of these cards, only the GTX 465, 470 and 480 allow more than two cards in an appropriate motherboard.

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At the end of the card with find a pair of PCI-Express 6-pin power connectors. To the left of those connectors are the three voltage check points for the GPU, Memory and PLL (PCI-Express interface). As mentioned earlier, MSI include a set of cables that you can attach easily to your multimeter (not provided) for accurate voltage monitoring while benchmarking or volt-modding.

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One of the most obvious ways that MSI's card differs from the reference cards is the cooling system. The card sports MSI's own TwinFrozr II thermal cooling solution with four heatpipes to transfer the heat load, via a nickel-plater copper base, to a high-density aluminium heatsink which is cooled by two 8cm PWM fans.

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The GTX 460 HAWK maintains a clean PCB around the GPU and memory, while power circuitry are grouped and arranged in a neat manner. MSI chose a 7+1 phase PWM design increasing the maximum current value to 120A, approximately 30A over the reference specifications, allowing for a increased and stable power delivery when overclocking and adjusting voltages. They also utilise an all-solid-capacitor design, Super Ferrite Chokes and Hi-C Capacitors to enhance current capacity, power efficiency and the card's lifespan.

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Taking a closer look at the back of the card, we find an array of red LEDs. These indicators allow for the monitoring of how many phases are being utilised by the GPU as part of its active phase switching technology, to save power when the GPU is not in use. At idle two of the six LEDs are active, while during gaming up to six LED's are lit up depending on load.

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Many users are now familiar with MSI's Afterburner software that is developed in partnership with the people that created RivaTuner. This software works with the video card to allow for the adjustment of the core (GPU), memory and PCI-Express (PLL) voltages as well as the usual core and memory frequencies and monitoring capabilities in a single software package.

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All original content copyright James Rolfe.
All rights reserved. No reproduction allowed without written permission.
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