Not only is the MSI HD 7870 HAWK an awesome AMD Radeon HD 7870 part, but it's an absolutely awesome video card period. Like other video cards that are part of the HAWK, Lightning and Power Edition series, they not only perform great, but they're just awesome fun to use because of the wicked overclocking ability due to all of those high quality parts and workmanship added by MSI.
Something we noticed when it came to benchmarking was that when benching at 2560 x 1600, the HD 7870 HAWK either had no issue out performing the reference clocked HD 7970 or sat behind it by a little. The main reason for this would be that while the clocks we reached are indeed massive, we're being a little limited by that 256-bit memory bus verse the 384-bit bus that's present on the more expensive Radeon HD 7970.
Quite often we would see the overclocked HAWK outperform the HD 7970 at 1680 x 1050 and 1920 x 1200, but when we moved up to that super intensive 2560 x 1600 resolution, the performance fell behind. It was most common in the super intensive engines (Metro 2033, Lost Planet 2 and Aliens vs. Predator).
It's not a major issue at all for us, but it's something that stood out for us while we were testing. For AMD, the HD 7970 continues to be the only video card that can really offer us consistent playable FPS at 2560 x 1600 out of the box.
While we still don't have the price on this video card yet as it hasn't quite hit the market, one thing we would say is if you're not going to be overclocking, buy the standard MSI HD 7870 TwinFrozr model we looked at the other week, because while we don't know the price of the HAWK, we know that it will cost more than the standard TwinFrozr model. The HAWK series is all about overclocking (just like the Lightning) and to get the most of the video card, you will want to fire up MSI Afterburner and unleash the beast to its fullest potential. If you just want to have some fun benchmarking or want some massive clocks across the board, then this is exactly the kind of video card you want.
In typical MSI fashion the quality of the video card is very excellent and the TwinFrozr cooler always does a good job. The black and blue theme looks great and would really suit the black and blue theme that's present on MSI motherboards.
MSI's Radeon HD 7870 HAWK is just a feature packed video card that's a blast to use thanks to the really impressive overclocking capabilities. If you want to have some serious fun benchmarking on a bit of a budget or just want a video card that can perform like the more expensive Radeon HD 7970 at times, buy this video card.