The fastest GTX 460 and the best valued video card we've tested to date. That is the GTX 460 HAWK. We had so hoped to get to that magical 1GHz core clock; we could get Vantage running, but we would freeze up in the first benchmark. Really, we shouldn't be complaining, but we were so close and it would've been great to achieve that with stock cooling.
While we've no doubt been lucky with the particular GTX 460 we've received, we've been told that you should get at least 950MHz on the core when it comes to the HAWK. Because of the fluctuating core from NVIDIA, we've been told that if you've got one that comes with the core a little lower, +200mv just won't be as much voltage as one that comes with a slightly higher core clock like ours. Internally MSI have also been able to achieve 1GHz on the air cooling; I wish they decided to send that one to me.
This is ultimately what the HAWK series is about and while it would've been nice to see an 800MHz core clock out of the box and a bump in memory speed to 4000MHz QDR, it's not the end of the world. Really, the HAWK could come in at 675MHz core. Unless you're overclocking you're just not going to see the full advantage of the model.
Companies are really having fun with the GTX 460. Its potential is fantastic, stock doesn't seem to be an issue and the price is really aggressive. While we'll no doubt see a few more of the models in the near future, I don't think we'll see too many more as most companies have really had a crack at it now.
What NVIDIA and its partners have shown us with the GTX 460 is really exciting and it really lights a spark for what NVIDIA are going to be offering us in the next generation of cards. Sure FERMI ran into some issues and the highest end models probably haven't been the success NVIDIA and its partners wanted it to be, but this $200ish price bracket is one of the most important for companies as this is where the cards are sold. Sure, everyone would love HD 5970s and GTX 480s, but people can't afford, or justify the cost associated with a depreciating asset.
If you're into overclocking and you love the feeling of having a product perform faster than more expensive ones, this is the perfect card for you. And while you might not have the same luck as us, you're going to have a hell of a lot of fun trying.
MSI, Afterburner and the HAWK series together help make computing fun. Out of the box you'll run a benchmark and achieve a number, from there you'll do a little bit of overclocking and get a higher number which will end up with you trying to chase something higher. For us it was breaking P22000 today. It took me a while, bumping the core up just a few MHz at a time to get it to the highest stable number while also doing the same for the memory and while I've achieved P22k countless times, and even higher just as many times, there's just something about hitting those massive numbers on a card that costs only $249.