MSI Radeon HD 5770 HAWK 1GB Video Card

MSI has strapped the Afterburner software to the HD 5770. Let's see if we can break the sound barrier.

Manufacturer: MSI Computer
12 minutes & 7 seconds read time


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If you're gaming at 1920 x 1200, the HD 5770 is the card I would recommend in a heartbeat, especially if you want to protect yourself a little bit for future titles. It offers us consistent performance at 1920 x 1200 with the detail level set high.

As always, though, we appreciate some extra performance. Last year we saw MSI attach the GT 240 from NVIDIA with its Afterburner software. Outside of just giving us normal abilities like overclocking the core and memory, it also gave us a chance to increase the voltage on the core. What this ultimately meant was that we could achieve an ever higher core clock.

While the ability was no doubt pretty cool, the fact that it was used on a GT 240 was a bit boring. We felt the potential of the card software could be used on higher models. Well, today they've given the ability to the HD 5770, a model that we already think is fantastic. Today we'll find out what exactly the software can do for this model. But before we do that, let's look at the package.

The Package

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Having a look inside the package, there's not really anything that you wouldn't normally see. In saying that, however, there's a little cable inside the package. What this does is plug onto the card and with a multi meter you can grab a reading of the voltage the card is putting out. Quite a neat little feature, but we're not sure how many people would use it.

Video Card

Having a look at the card, you might notice the cooler that MSI has opted for is similar to what we've seen before. This isn't the first time we have seen the TwinFrozrII cooler; mind you, we tend to see it on higher end models.

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The cooler is quite large and takes up the majority of the card. We've got two fans that sit over the top and a bunch of heat pipes across the bottom. We can see the brand in the middle of the cooler and the cooler name on the left.

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At the back of the card we have a single 6-Pin PCI Express power connector that's needed to power the card. Closer to the front we have a single CrossFire connector which is a bit weird. I actually spoke to MSI quickly about this; the single CrossFire connector still supports two cards without an issue. The lack of an extra connector also frees up a bit of PCB space, giving MSI more room to play with.

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In the I/O department we've got three connections. Starting from the left, we have DisplayPort, HDMI and Dual-Link DVI. These three connections will give us the ability to run EyeFinity.


Out of the box the HAWK HD 5770 only offers us a 25MHz overclock coming in at 875MHz. As for the 1GB of GDDR5, that remains at the stock 4800MHz QDR clock. This didn't really interest us, though. What we wanted to know was what we could achieve if we moved the core voltage from 1.15v to 1.35v.

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It gave us so much of an overclock, it wasn't even funny. We moved from 875MHz to 1045MHz on the core and the RAM went from the above mentioned 4800MHz QDR to a blistering fast 5552MHz QDR.

Test System Setup and 3DMark Vantage

Test System Setup

Processor(s): Intel Core i7 920 @ 3.8GHz (190MHz x 20)
Cooling: Noctua NH-U12P (Supplied by Noctua)
Motherboard(s): GIGABYTE EX58-UD5 (Supplied by GIGABYTE)
Memory: 3 X 2GB Kingston Hyper X PC3-16000 2000MHz DDR CL9 (Supplied by Kingston)
Hard Disk(s): Western Digital 640GB SATA 2.0 HDD (Supplied by Western Digital)
Operating System: Windows 7
Drivers: Catalyst 10.1

Since the core clock on the model out of the box was only 25MHz extra, we didn't worry about testing it at that speed. Instead we thought we would see what kind of results we got at the overclocked speed we achieved.

We didn't want to take the focus away from what the HD 5770 HAWK offered, so we have today chosen to only compare the HD 5770 HAWK at the speed we achieved to a stock clocked one.

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.

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Straight away you can see this massive boost in performance from the HAWK. Looking at the numbers, you can see this give us what is a 20% performance increase. We move from just over P10000 to almost P13000; this is a simply awesome increase. Let's hope it translates in the real world.

Unigine Heaven Benchmark (DX10 & DX11)

Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Version and / or Patch Used: 1
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 DirectX 10 results.

Direct X 10

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Direct X 11

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Under Unigine we again see a great performance increase in both the DX10 and DX11 tests and at both resolutions. There's some serious power to be had here from this little model.

Benchmarks - CINEBENCH R10


Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10
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).

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CINEBENCH doesn't make use of overclocking or Crossfire, so it comes as no surprise that we see the performance on both cards being almost identical.

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.

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The big boosts in performance continue to be seen. We can see at the lower resolution that we're breaking a 100 FPS average, while at 1920 x 1200 the average score on the overclocked HAWK is only slightly behind what the stock clock card offers at the lower resolution.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2

Far Cry 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.03
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.

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A massive boost again in performance. The number worth looking at is the 39.17 on the 1920 x 1200 result of the HAWK. Now, if you look at the minimum for the standard model at 1680 x 1050, you'll notice that the HAWK puts out better numbers at 1920 x 1200 than the stock at 1680 x 1050. Simply awesome performance from the model here.

Benchmarks - World in Conflict

World in Conflict

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

World in Conflict is a real-time strategy video game by Massive Entertainment and to be published by Sierra Entertainment for Windows (DX9 and DX10).

The game is set in 1989 where economic troubles cripple the Soviet Union and threaten to dissolve it. However, the title pursues a "what if" scenario where, in this case, the Soviet Union does not collapse and instead pursues a course of war to remain in power. It is an intensive new game that is sure to put plenty of stress on even the latest graphics cards. We use the built-in benchmarking for our testing.

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A big boost again in performance with the most important aspect being the minimum getting boosted to 30 FPS at 1920 x 1200. This is what we call a game changing difference.

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, while ATI cards will be tested with the technology off due to it not being supported on their cards.

Without PhysX

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We again see another boost in performance here, though the results won't really make the game any better with us already seeing good numbers. In saying that, a boost is always appreciated nonetheless.

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 takes advantage of the NVIDIA PhysX abilities. For that reason we will test ATI cards at the Low preset, while NVIDIA based cards will be tested at Low and High.

PhysX set to Low

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Moving over to Darkest of Days, we want to see an average of over 60 FPS when we have no minimum. You can see that we're already above it with the stock clocked card, but the HAWK does a great job of giving us even more breathing room which is always nice.

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 separated 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.

DirectX 11 (ATI HD 5000 Series Only)

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Like we mentioned in Darkest of Days, when we don't have a minimum we want an average of around 60 FPS. You can see that the stock HD 5770 can't do that. Even the HAWK has trouble at 1920 x 1200. At 1680 x 1050, though, we can see the HAWK is able to break that average which is fantastic in this intensive game.

Temperature and Sound Tests

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.

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While the card has a really nice cooler on it, the extra voltage that we push through the card means it's going to run hotter. While the heat is slightly up, it's not at a worrying number. Considering the extra performance we're seeing from the card, an extra 8c on the core is a great trade off.

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).

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While the card does run a bit warmer, the cooler manages to be a bit quieter than the standard one which is nice.

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.

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Adding the extra voltage through the card increases our idle and load watts. Just over 350 Watt at load isn't anything we would be worried about, though. Any good quality 500 Watt power supply is going to run this card with no dramas.

Final Thoughts

The HD 5770 in my books is already a great card. It's great for gamers who don't want to spend HD 5800 money but still want to do some serious gaming. To be honest, though, next to the HAWK version from MSI the stock one looks slow. The ability and ease of adjusting the voltage on the HD 5770 HAWK is fantastic.

What it does is open you up to a completely new level of performance, 20%+ in some areas from what is the same model is just fantastic. There's no other word to describe the model from MSI here. It really is just fantastic.

Taking the time to install Afterburner and overclock the card is not only extremely fun and interesting, but when you fire up games it's really rewarding. Knowing that you've taken a bit of time to find out what the card is capable of and seeing the massive gains really is a great feeling.

If you're not going to overclock the HAWK, it's still a great model, the TwinFrozrII cooler has proven itself many times in the past and really is a nice unit that is quieter than the stock one. To make the full use out of the model, though, you'll want to spend the time installing the Afterburner software and overclocking the card with the voltage set to 1.35v.

If you're worried that maybe we just got lucky with our model and if you go out and buy one you won't have the same joy, MSI has let us know that they've tested a few from their batch and are receiving a core clock of around 1020MHz at 1.35v.

MSI has created another great product that stands out from the pack. You don't have to be an expert to get the most out of this card and if you spend a bit of time using the Afterburner software, you'll find some fantastic performance hidden underneath that cooler.

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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.

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