MSI GeForce GTX 460 HAWK 1GB Video Card Overclocked

The HAWK has always been about the overclock, and this article wouldn't be here unless we had something special to show you.

Published Thu, Sep 2 2010 3:26 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:02 PM CST
Manufacturer: MSI

Introduction and Overclocking


MSI GeForce GTX 460 HAWK 1GB Video Card Overclocked 02 |

I'll admit I was a little harsh on the HAWK in my initial review. I felt that while the GTX 460 HAWK from MSI was a very nice card, it wasn't anything that really wowed us. And yes, while the cooler is fantastic, the most important thing for so many people is the performance of the card.

The decision for MSI not to overclock the memory and also not push the core to at least 800MHz like we've seen from other companies, I feel was a bit of a mistake. Because what it meant was out of the box cards from Palit, Gainward and Galaxy were going to beat the MSI model out of the box.

You know what, though? - The HAWK is all about the overclock, and it's all about Afterburner. What it does that others don't is let us adjust a few extra settings while giving us even more head room. What exactly do we mean? Well, let's just get into it and break it all down.


For me Afterburner has felt like a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to MSI and it letting everyone use it. On one hand you have the MSI logo literally everywhere when it comes to screen shots of peoples overclocked video cards, while on the other hand you kind of have to wonder, why buy an MSI card when you can buy a cheaper one and overclock it yourself?

So what do MSI do to combat this? They release stuff like the Lightning and HAWK series which lets even more abilities open up with in MSI. These series are essentially the ACE up MSIs sleeves.

The plan with the GTX 460 HAWK was to do a normal article like you've already seen; cover the package, the card and all that jazz. Then it was time to do this one, assuming a decent overclock could be seen. With 925MHz achieved with the Palit card already, as far as I was concerned the MSI HAWK had its job cut out for itself.

Using the 1.6.1 official Afterburner already installed, there wasn't anything too special when it came to the overclock. While I managed to get around the 925MHz mark with no real dramas, I couldn't get to 950MHz. Without going at least 25MHz higher than the Palit, it wasn't worth doing an article.

Anyway, I spoke to MSI and they gave me V2.0 Beta6 which unlocked all the goodies. This let us increase the voltage on the Core, Memory and AUX; the three things we can monitor with the included cables.

It also let us go above the standard 1.087v max limit that is imposed by the normal Afterburner on other cards. Instead it let us go to +.2v. MSI actually told us that each GTX 460 has a bit of fluctuation when it comes to the default core clock. The particular one we had came at 1.062v which was on the higher side of things, so +200mv gave us 1.262v; much higher than the standard 1.087v limit that we're used to seeing.

Anyway, all this mucking around resulted in :-

MSI GeForce GTX 460 HAWK 1GB Video Card Overclocked 01 |

Or as I'm calling it, a friggen' HUGE ASS OC!! - What we ended up with was a core clock of 988MHz. This bumped the Shader clock to 1976MHz. Since we had the ability to ramp more volts through the memory as well, that managed a whopping 4480MHz QDR memory clock.

MSI GeForce GTX 460 HAWK 1GB Video Card Overclocked 03 |

Above you can see the extra settings in MSI Afterburner. The left image is as you open it; the right is when you click the little down tab next to the core voltage which gives you access to the other voltage areas.

Test System Setup and 3DMark Vantage

MSI GeForce GTX 460 HAWK 1GB Video Card Overclocked 99 |

We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASRock, Kingston, Western Digital, Noctua and Thermaltake.

With just a massive overclock achieved, let's see what happens when we start tearing up our benchmark line-up.

Let's get started!

3DMark Vantage

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:
Buy It Here

3DMark Vantage is the new industry standard PC gaming performance benchmark from Futuremark, newly designed for Windows Vista and DirectX10. It includes two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, and support for the latest hardware.

3DMark Vantage is based on a completely new rendering engine, developed specifically to take full advantage of DirectX10, the new graphics API from Microsoft.

MSI GeForce GTX 460 HAWK 1GB Video Card Overclocked 20 |

That didn't take long for the HAWK to lay down the law to who's boss.

Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Version and / or Patch Used: 1 and 2
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

New benchmark grants the power to unleash the DirectX 11 potential in the gift wrapping of impressively towering graphics capabilities. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. With the interactive mode emerging experience of exploring the intricate world is ensured within reach. Through its advanced renderer, Unigine is one of the first to set precedence in showcasing the art assets with tessellation, bringing compelling visual finesse, utilizing the technology to the full extend and exhibiting the possibilities of enriching 3D gaming.

Note: If a card doesn't support DirectX 11 the benchmark will be left out, if it does it will be included along with the DirectX10 results.

MSI GeForce GTX 460 HAWK 1GB Video Card Overclocked 21 |

If Vantage was anything to go by, this isn't all that surprising. We see the GTX 460 HAWK when overclocked able to outperform the GTX 470 again in this instance.

Benchmarks - CINEBENCH


Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10 and Release 11.5
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

CINEBENCH is a real-world test suite that assesses your computer's performace capabilities. MAXON CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software, CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.

MAXON CINEBENCH runs several tests on your computer to measure the performance of the main processor and the graphics card under real world circumstances. The benchmark application makes use of up to 16 CPUs or CPU cores and is available for Windows (32-bit and 64-Bit) and Macintosh (PPC and Intel-based).

MSI GeForce GTX 460 HAWK 1GB Video Card Overclocked 22 |

CINEBENCH performance is good; the massive OC seems to bump R10 performance up slightly.

Benchmarks - Resident Evil 5

Resident Evil 5

Version and / or Patch Used: Demo Benchmark
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

Resident Evil 5 is a survival horror video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the seventh installment in the Resident Evil survival horror series, and was released on September 18. Resident Evil 5 revolves around Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar as they investigate a terrorist threat in Kijuju, a fictional town in Africa.

MSI GeForce GTX 460 HAWK 1GB Video Card Overclocked 23 |

In our first benchmark we see some serious performance gains; not quite GTX 470 OC performance, but very close to it here. Hopefully we'll be able to surpass it in some areas.

Benchmarks - BattleForge


Version and / or Patch Used: Auto Patched at Load
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

The Gods have disappeared and the old sun has died, letting a vile twilight engulf the world of Nyn. In exchange for all treasures the mortals possessed, the evil giants agreed to forge a new sun and hurl it into the sky.

But the deal was betrayed, the treasure stolen and now the mortals flee the wrath of the giants. Under the light of a new sun the mortals stumble into a world changed and twisted by an age of twilight. The long journey home has become a conquest of survival.

Note: Supporting DirectX 11 we have seperated the graphs for NVIDIA and ATI cards. While the numbers between the two brands can be compared you have to make note that ATI based HD 5000 series cards are running DirectX 11.

MSI GeForce GTX 460 HAWK 1GB Video Card Overclocked 24 |

We've got some serious gains here; not quite enough to bring our 2560 x 1600 performance up to a 60 FPS average, though. Those 1920 x 1200 and lower results are very impressive nonetheless.

Benchmarks - Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X is an arcade-style flight simulator video game developed by Ubisoft Romania and published by Ubisoft for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and iPhone OS.

The fundamental gameplay mechanics are similar to those of other console-based flight series. Players take on enemies with over 50 aircraft available. Each mission is at real world locations in environments created with commercial satellite data. A cockpit, first person, and third person view are selectable. The third person view gives the player an external view of both their plane and the target.

Set above the skies of a near-future world, increasingly dependent on private military companies with elite mercenaries who have a relaxed view on the law. As these non-governmental organizations gain power, global conflict erupts with one powerful PMC attacking the United States.

MSI GeForce GTX 460 HAWK 1GB Video Card Overclocked 25 |

Strong performance across the board; enough to make it the fastest card here with it having no problem picking the GTX 470 off.

Benchmarks - Darkest of Days

Darkest of Days

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.4
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

Darkest of Days takes the player through time into historic battles in an effort to save key individuals from certain death. The battles range from Custer's Last Stand at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876 to fighting in Pompeii as ash and fire rain down from an erupting Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. Other locations include the battles of Antietam and Tannenberg, and a German World War II P.O.W. camp. There are different missions in every time period and the game takes about 4 hours to complete.

The game features over twenty weapons, both from the original time period as well as those brought back from the future. In addition, there are artillery weapons from different time periods to assist in battle.

Note: With the PhysX set to Medium or High Darkest of Days take advantage of the NVIDIA PhysX abilities. For that reason we will test ATI cards at the Low preset, NVIDIA based cards though will be tested at Low and High.

MSI GeForce GTX 460 HAWK 1GB Video Card Overclocked 26 |

MSI GeForce GTX 460 HAWK 1GB Video Card Overclocked 27 |

Again, very strong performance. Massive gains that put it only a few FPS behind the GTX 470 can be witnessed in this instance.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2

Far Cry 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01
Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:
Buy It Here

The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.

MSI GeForce GTX 460 HAWK 1GB Video Card Overclocked 28 |

Big numbers across the board and we can see while the HAWK at stock just scraped in at that 30 FPS minimum we need, the same card when overclocked helped boost us way past that number, making for extra smooth game play.

Benchmarks - Batman Arkham Asylum

Batman Arkham Asylum

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

Batman: Arkham Asylum exposes players to a unique, dark and atmospheric adventure that takes them to the depths of Arkham Asylum - Gotham's psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane. Gamers will move in the shadows, instigate fear amongst their enemies and confront The Joker and Gotham City's most notorious villains who have taken over the asylum.

Using a wide range of Batman's gadgets and abilities, players will become the invisible predator and attempt to foil The Joker's demented scheme.
Batman: Arkham Asylum features an original story penned exclusively for the game by famous Batman author and five-time Emmy award winner Paul Dini, whose credits include Lost season one and Batman: The Animated Series.

Note: With support for PhysX NVIDIA based cards will be tested with the technology on and off, ATI cards will be tested with the technology off due to it not being supported on their cards.

MSI GeForce GTX 460 HAWK 1GB Video Card Overclocked 29 |

MSI GeForce GTX 460 HAWK 1GB Video Card Overclocked 30 |

Big numbers, and bigger gains. With PhysX on this extra power gives us some fantastic numbers and while we fall short at 2560 x 1600 with PhysX on, we're oh so close.

Benchmarks - Dark Void

Dark Void

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

The game's story takes place during World War II and centers around a cargo pilot named William Augustus Grey (voiced by Nolan North) who is teleported to another world while flying through the Bermuda Triangle. In this world, known as the 'Void', Will encounters an alien race as well as other humans, which are known as the Watchers and the Survivors respectively.

Will reluctantly joins the Survivors who are engaged in a feud with the alien race to satisfy his desire to return to Earth. While aiding the Survivors, Will discovers that the Void is a middle ground that connects both the Watchers homeworld and Earth. It also becomes apparent that the Watchers are supplying the Axis powers with various supplies for reasons unknown. With the help of Nikola Tesla, Will utilizes retrofited Watcher technology to combat the Watchers and eventually find a way to escape the Void.

MSI GeForce GTX 460 HAWK 1GB Video Card Overclocked 31 |

MSI GeForce GTX 460 HAWK 1GB Video Card Overclocked 32 |

Like Batman AA we've got big numbers and bigger gains; the difference is we're above that 30 FPS minimum by a good chunk at all resolutions when PhysX is turned on.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF

High Quality AA and AF

Our high quality tests let us separate the men from the boys and the ladies from the girls. If the cards weren't struggling before they will start to now.

Far Cry 2

MSI GeForce GTX 460 HAWK 1GB Video Card Overclocked 33 |

A really nice boost to the average, while at the same time a bump in the minimum which will help make sure everything runs nice and smooth.

Resident Evil 5

MSI GeForce GTX 460 HAWK 1GB Video Card Overclocked 34 |

A massive performance gain is seen here. More importantly, the gains bring us over that 60 FPS average we need which changes our game play. This is exactly why we overclock.

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

MSI GeForce GTX 460 HAWK 1GB Video Card Overclocked 35 |

Like RE5 we again see a very good gain. Across the board, though, we see all the cards struggle to hit that 60 FPS average we want to achieve.

Benchmarks - Elcomsoft Wireless Security Auditor

Elcomsoft Wireless Security Auditor

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.51
Timedemo or Level Used: Sample File
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

ElcomSoft has pioneered many software innovations that have made it easier to recover passwords protecting various types of resources. For the first time in the industry, the company's patent-pending GPU acceleration makes its way into Wi-Fi password recovery, reducing the time required to recover Wi-Fi passwords up to a hundred times.

Supporting up to four NVIDIA boards such as GeForce 8, 9, and 200, as well as ATI video cards such as RADEON HD 4000 Series and up, Elcomsoft Wireless Security Auditor allows building servers with supercomputer performance at a fraction of the price.

MSI GeForce GTX 460 HAWK 1GB Video Card Overclocked 36 |

The performance increase from the extra MHz on offer is really very nice here.

Benchmarks - Badaboom


Version and / or Patch Used: Release
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

Badaboom eliminates the frustration of video conversion by providing users with speed, efficiency, quality, and a sleek interface. In a practice that used to take several hours, Badaboom converts feature-length movies in a matter of minutes while keeping the videos looking crisp and clear.

By harnessing the power of NVIDIA CUDA-enabled GPUs, Badaboom offloads the CPU to allow users to continue browsing the Internet or checking email without decreased system performance, making transcoding high-quality video fast, easy, and painless.

Note: With the requirement for a CUDA enabled graphics card to run Badaboom, this means that we can only use NVIDIA based cards for this test.

MSI GeForce GTX 460 HAWK 1GB Video Card Overclocked 37 |

Badaboom unfortunately isn't making use of the OC here, which doesn't come as a surprise.

Temperature Test

Temperature Tests

With the TES 1326 Infrared Thermometer literally in hand we found ourselves getting real-world temperatures from the products we test at load (3D clock speeds).

There are two places we pull temperature from - the back of the card directly behind the core and if the card is dual slot and has an exhaust point we also pull a temperate from there, as seen in the picture.

MSI GeForce GTX 460 HAWK 1GB Video Card Overclocked 38 |

With the fan set to 100% it comes as no surprise that temps aren't bad. Considering the amount of extra voltage we're pumping through the whole card, it's still mighty impressive, though.

Sound Test

Sound Tests

Pulling out the TES 1350A Sound Level Meter we find ourselves quickly yelling into the top of it to see how loud we can be.

After five minutes of that we get a bit more serious and place the device two CM away from the fan on the card to find the maximum noise level of the card when idle (2D mode) and in load (3D mode).

MSI GeForce GTX 460 HAWK 1GB Video Card Overclocked 39 |

Like the page before, it comes as no surprise we're getting these noise levels since the fan is running at 100%.

Power Consumption Tests

Using our new PROVA Power Analyzer WM-01 or "Power Thingy" as it has become quickly known as to our readers, we are now able to find out what kind of power is being used by our test system and the associated graphics cards installed. Keep in mind; it tests the complete system (minus LCD monitor, which is plugged directly into AC wall socket).

There are a few important notes to remember though; while our maximum power is taken in 3DMark06 at the same exact point, we have seen in particular tests the power being drawn as much as 10% more. We test at the exact same stage every time; therefore tests should be very consistent and accurate.

The other thing to remember is that our test system is bare minimum - only a 7,200RPM SATA-II single hard drive is used without CD ROM or many cooling fans.

So while the system might draw 400 watts in our test system, placing it into your own PC with a number of other items, the draw is going to be higher.

MSI GeForce GTX 460 HAWK 1GB Video Card Overclocked 40 |

Power draw has REALLY skyrocketed. You can see the card is sucking almost as much juice as an SLI setup. In saying that, its power draw is nothing a good power supply won't handle. Of course, if you drop the voltage when idling, its idle power will also drop back to under 200w.

Total Performance Rating (TPR)

Total Performance Rating

The TPR graph is a combination of all our benchmarks in which NVIDIA and ATI are on an even playing field. This includes benchmarks where PhysX can be forced off like Dark Void and Batman: Arkham Asylum, but not Darkest of Days.

The TPR number is a combination of:

3DMark Vantage, Heaven Benchmark V2, CINEBENCH R11.5, Resident Evil 5, BattleForge, Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X., Far Cry 2, Batman: Arkham Asylum (PhysX Off), Dark Void (PhysX Off) and our three High Quality tests which include Far Cry 2, Resident Evil 5 and Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

All of the benchmark results achieved are then combined into a single number. As this graph will grow over time and cards won't be re-tested, next to each model you'll find the driver version that was used when the card was benchmarked.

MSI GeForce GTX 460 HAWK 1GB Video Card Overclocked 41 |

Strong performance that really sees the card shoot up the ladder. It's really only beaten by cards carrying a significantly higher price tag.

Total Value Rating (TVR)

Total Value Rating

The TVR graph is the TPR score divided by the price of the video card. The price of the video card is based on the list price of the model on In the event the card isn't listed, it will be based on the U.S. $ MSRP given to us by the manufacturer.

In the event we can't source a price from either, the product will not receive a TVR rating. As with our TPR graph, the amount of video cards on the list will grow over time and the price of the model won't change from what it was when first reviewed. For this reason the U.S. $ price that the card is based off will be included next to the name of the model.

In the event you want to find the TVR rating yourself based on the current price, all you have to do is simply divide the TPR number by the list price.

TVR numbers are rounded to the nearest whole number; 100.3 will be 100; 100.8 will be 101 and 100.5 will be rounded down to 100.

MSI GeForce GTX 460 HAWK 1GB Video Card Overclocked 42 |

That huge performance and the same $249 price tag means the card shoots directly to the top of the charts as the best valued card we've tested since introducing our TVR system. Really, a fantastic achievement for both NVIDIA and MSI.

Final Thoughts

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.

PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.

USUnited States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at

UKUnited Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at

AUAustralia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at

CACanada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at

DEDeutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf

Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

Newsletter Subscription

Similar Content

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

Related Tags

Newsletter Subscription
Latest News
View More News
Latest Reviews
View More Reviews
Latest Articles
View More Articles