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MSI GeForce GTX 560 Ti HAWK Video Card Review

With recent high end Lightning models looked at, we now check out the more budget friendly GTX 560 Ti HAWK.
@ShawnBakerTW
Published Mon, May 2 2011 2:47 AM CDT   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Rating: 95%Manufacturer: MSI

Introduction and Package


Introduction

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As much as I love the recently looked at Lightning cards from MSI, their high price tag continues to let us know that they're not for everybody. This is ultimately where the HAWK series comes in to the picture.

Essentially the HAWK series is very similar to that of the Lightning when it comes to what MSI want to achieve, but instead of aiming for the fastest card overall like they do with the Lightning, they aim for the fastest at the easier to swallow mid-range price point.

The GTX 560 Ti looked the goods when the model launched and like the GTX 460 we knew it was going to be only a matter of time till MSI offered us this new mid-range beast under the HAWK tag. Well, that time has come now; but before we see exactly what's on offer in performance land, let's check out the package, the card itself and the specifications the MSI GTX 560 Ti HAWK carries out of the box.


Package

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Looking at the bundle, it's very HAWK. We get all the normal stuff you expect to see from a bundle, but being a HAWK card means you also get the little voltage connectors to see the power draw on the AUX, Core and Memory. We've also got a little mini-HDMI to HDMI connector in the bundle.

Card and Specifications


The Card

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Head on the GTX 560 Ti HAWK looks similar to a lot of other cards we've seen from MSI that carry the Twin Frozr cooler. Unlike the previous GTX 560 Ti we looked at from MSI, though, this one carries the Twin Frozr III cooler instead of the Twin Frozr II. Hopefully it yields some impressive cooling and noise numbers.

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Power comes in the form of two 6-Pin PCI-E power connectors at the top of the card and closer to the front we've got a single SLI connector. Across the top of the card we've also got a really nice bracket which is designed to prevent any flex happening in the card.

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While we still have our voltage measuring points, they're not located at the top of the card like we're used to. Instead they're located at the back towards the bottom. Most people aren't going to make use of this ability, but as always we show you where it is.

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Connectivity comes in the form of two Dual-Link DVI connectors and a single mini-HDMI port. As we mentioned on the previous page, MSI have been kind enough to include a mini-HDMI to HDMI connector in the bundle.


Specifications

Something that surprised me was that MSI have been quite aggressive with the out of the box clocks on the card. The core has been bumped to 950MHz from the default 822MHz. This also means the Shader clock has been bumped from 1644MHz too 1900MHz.

As for the 1GB of GDDR5 memory, that's also been bumped slightly from 4008MHz QDR to 4200MHz QDR.

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Of course, like we normally do with the HAWK and Lightning cards, we overclock. What we ended up with was 1020MHz on the core which pushed the Shader clock to 2040MHz. As for the 1GB of GDDR5, that got pushed to a round 4400MHz QDR.

Test System Setup and 3DMark 11


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

We're comparing the GTX 560 Ti HAWK from MSI against a number of other setups today which include the GTX 560 Ti Twin Frozr II, Palit GTX 550 Ti Sonic in SLI along with the GTX 570 and GTX 580 from MSI.

For AMD we've got the HD 6850, HD 6870, HD 6950 and HD 6970. We've got a pretty strong line-up on offer and it will be interesting to see what this 1000MHz+ GTX 560 Ti HAWK from MSI can offer.

Let's get started!


3DMark 11

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.3dmark.com/3dmark11/
Buy It Here




3DMark 11 is the latest version of the world's most popular benchmark. Designed to measure your PC's gaming performance 3DMark 11 makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to consistently and reliably test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

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Straight away we can see the very strong performance on offer from the GTX 560 Ti HAWK that manages to perform similar to both the GTX 570 and GTX 550 Ti SLI setup.

3DMark Vantage




Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmarkvantage/
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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We again see strong performance and you can see the kind of increase over the lower clocked Twin Frozr II version we looked at in the past. There's some great performance on offer here.

Unigine Heaven Benchmark




Version and / or Patch Used: 2
Developer Homepage: http://www.unigine.com
Product Homepage: http://unigine.com/press-releases/091022-heaven_benchmark//



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.

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Heaven performance is strong and we see a nice increase over the lower clocked GTX 560 Ti.

Benchmarks - Resident Evil 5


Resident Evil 5

Version and / or Patch Used: Demo Benchmark
Developer Homepage: www.residentevil.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.residentevil.com/




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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Across the board we see a nice boost in performance with numbers that just offer us silky smooth gameplay across the board.

Benchmarks - Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2


Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.2

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/UK/default.aspx
Product Homepage: http://www.hawxgame.com/




Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2 is an arcade-style flight action game developed by Ubisoft Romania and published by Ubisoft. The game is the sequel to Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X., released in 2009.

The game begins with Colonel David Crenshaw participating in a routine patrol mission in the Middle East. After halting an insurgent attack, a volley of missiles is fired at the Air Force base that Crenshaw was stationed at, with one of the missiles disabling Crenshaw's aircraft, resulting Crenshaw being in enemy captivity. A joint strike force composed of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and a Ghost Recon squad executes an operation to rescue Crenshaw. In Scotland, Royal Navy Pilot Colin Munro encounters an unidentified passenger aircraft that explodes from an on-board bomb when undergoing training exercise. In Russia, an air force squadron led by Colonel Denisov and Captain Dmitri Sokov engages separatist aircraft but is ordered to retreat from the region after numerous Russian military installations have been attacked.

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HAWX 2 performs very well on the NVIDIA cards and here is no different with some great numbers at all resolutions, showing us that the GTX 560 Ti HAWK can even handle the high 2560 x 1600 resolution.

Benchmarks - Mafia II


Mafia II

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage: http://www.2kczech.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.mafia2game.com/
Buy It Here




Mafia II is a third-person action-adventure video game, the sequel to Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven. It is developed by 2K Czech, previously known as Illusion Softworks, and is published by 2K Games. The game is set from 1943 to 1951 in Empire Bay (the name is a reference to New York's state nickname "The Empire State"), a fictional city based on San Francisco and New York City, with influences from Chicago and Detroit. The game features a completely open-ended game map of 10 square miles. No restrictions are included from the start of the game. There are around 50 vehicles in the game, as well as licensed music from the era.

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Mafia II sees some great performance, but we do see it fall just behind that 60 FPS average at the highest resolution. With a bit of a detail drop, though, we'd be able to break the 60 FPS mark which is good news if you own a high resolution monitor like the Dell 30".

Benchmarks - Lost Planet 2


Lost Planet 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark - Test A Scene 1
Developer Homepage: http://www.capcom.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.lostplanet2game.com/




Lost Planet 2 is a third-person shooter video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the sequel to Lost Planet: Extreme Condition which is also made by Capcom, taking place ten years after the events of the first game, on the same fictional planet. The story takes place back on E.D.N. III 10 years after the events of the first game. The snow has melted to reveal jungles and more tropical areas that have taken the place of more frozen regions. The plot begins with Mercenaries fighting against Jungle Pirates. After destroying a mine, the Mercenaries continue on to evacuate the area, in which a Category-G Akrid appears and attacks them. After being rescued, they find out their evacuation point (Where the Category-G appeared) was a set-up and no pick up team awaited them. The last words imply possible DLC additions to the game, "There's nothing to be gained by wiping out snow pirates... unless you had some kind of grudge."

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Lost Planet 2 is extremely intensive and we see a lot of cards struggle to get playable FPS. While 1680 x 1050 isn't an issue we do see that the card struggles a little at 1920 x 1200. The good news is thanks to the overclock we're a nice chunk closer to the average we want over the lower clocked GTX 560 Ti, so getting that couple of extra FPS shouldn't be too difficult by dropping detail just slightly.

Benchmarks - Aliens vs. Predator


Aliens vs. Predator

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage: http://www.rebellion.co.uk/
Product Homepage: http://www.sega.com/games/aliens-vs-predator/




Aliens vs. Predator is a science fiction first-person shooter video game, developed by Rebellion Developments, the team behind the 1999 original PC game, and published by Sega for Microsoft Windows, the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. The game is based on the Alien vs. Predator franchise, a combination of the characters and creatures of the Alien franchise and the Predator franchise. There are three campaigns in the game, one for each race/faction (the Predators, the Aliens and the Colonial Marines), that, while separate in terms of individual plot and gameplay, form one overarching storyline.

Following the storyline of the campaign modes comes the multiplayer aspect of the game. In this Multiplayer section of the game, players face off in various different gametypes in various different ways.

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Like Lost Planet 2 we see some great performance at 1680 x 1050, but above that the mid-range GTX 560 does struggle a little bit. To get to that 60 FPS average we aim for we'd want to move the detail just a little down. A small drop should give us that extra FPS to make sure we don't dip below a 30 FPS minimum.

Benchmarks - Street Fighter IV


Street Fighter IV

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage: http://www.capcom.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.streetfighter.com/




While Street Fighter IV features models and backgrounds rendered in 3D, the gameplay remains on a traditional 2D plane, with the camera having freedom to move in 3D at certain times during fights, for dramatic effect. Producer Yoshinori Ono has stated that he wanted to keep the game closer to Street Fighter II. A new system called "Focus Attacks" ("Saving Attack" for the Japanese version) has been introduced, as well as Ultra moves. The traditional six-button control scheme returns, with new features and special moves integrated into the input system, mixing classic gameplay with additional innovations.

All the characters and environments in Street Fighter IV are rendered as 3D models with polygons, similar to the Street Fighter EX sub-series Capcom produced with Arika. However, there are a couple of key differences. Art director and character designer Daigo Ikeno, who previously worked on Street Fighter III 3rd Strike, opted for non-photorealistic rendering to give them a hand-drawn look, with visual effects accented in calligraphic strokes, ink smudges and ink sprays during the fights.

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No surprise under SF IV that we've got some strong performance and really nothing out of the ordinary here.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2


Far Cry 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01
Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long
Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.farcry2.com/
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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Far Cry 2 performance is very strong and we're able to see that the GTX 560 Ti HAWK would have no trouble getting the FPS we need at any resolution.

Benchmarks - Batman Arkham Asylum


Batman Arkham Asylum

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.batmanarkhamasylum.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.batmanarkhamasylum.com/





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.

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We again see very strong performance that shows us the GTX 560 Ti HAWK is able to man handle Batman AA at any resolution.

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.

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Apart from Aliens vs. Predator we've got very good FPS across the board including Mafia II which manages a 61 FPS average thanks to that overclock that's on offer.

Benchmarks - PhysX Tests


PhysX Tests

Here we're able to find out when PhysX is turned on in games that support it what kind of frame rates we're able to get. We always set PhysX to the highest possible in game settings while also keeping detail at its highest.

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While Mafia II with AA on isn't really an option, we can see that Batman AA performance is good across the board with PhysX set to high.

Temperature Test


Temperature Tests



The temperature of the core is pulled from MSI Afterburner with the max reading used after a completed run off 3DMark Vantage and the Performance preset.

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It comes as no surprise that the Twin Frozr cooler does a very good job of keeping core temperature down, even when at these very high speeds.

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).

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Noise levels aren't bad at all either, which is great as there's nothing worse than a cooler running core coming at the cost of extreme noise.

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 SSD hard drive is used with a single CD ROM and minimal 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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At just over 400 Watt there's no surprise on the power draw. Any good 600 Watt PSU isn't going to have a problem dealing with this card even at these clocks.

Total Performance Rating (TPR)


Total Performance Rating

The TPR graph is a combination of all our benchmarks in which NVIDIA and AMD are on an even playing field.

The TPR number is a combination of:

3DMark 11, Heaven Benchmark V2, Resident Evil 5, Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.2, Mafia 2 (PhysX Off), Lost Planet 2, Aliens vs. Predator, Street Fighter IV, Far Cry 2, Batman: Arkham Asylum (PhysX Off) and our four High Quality tests which include Mafia 2, Aliens vs. Predator, Street Fighter IV and Far Cry 2.

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.

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The MSI GTX 560 Ti HAWK is just a really good performing card that has no problems performing at almost HD 6970 levels.

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 Newegg.com. 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.

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At just over $260 US the MSI GTX 560 Ti HAWK is actually a very well valued product thanks to its overclocking potential.

Final Thoughts




The GTX 560 Ti HAWK does exactly what you would both expect and want it to do. Priced at $264 US, the card performs exceptionally well at that price point in both performance and also cooling and noise.

The design team behind the HAWK series of cards has, as always, done a great job and what you ultimately end up with is just a fantastic performing mid-range video card that's not going to bust the bank account open like the higher end Lightning models.

If you're looking for a GTX 560 Ti with great cooling but would like to save some money, the MSI Twin Frozr II version we looked at is a good option at $239. On the other hand, if you're looking for something with some more out of the box grunt and you can really have a bit of fun with, then the HAWK version we're looking at today is the perfect choice.

Something else that really stands out on the HAWK version of the GTX 560 Ti is the 950MHz out of the box core clock. So often we see MSI opt for a lower out of the box clock speed and instead give you the tools to make it the fastest card in that price bracket. Here today, though, we've got an exceptionally strong out of the box overclock so in the event you don't want to overclock you get a card that will not only perform fast out of the box, but also cool exceptionally well thanks to that Twin Frozr III cooler.

As always, MSI don't disappoint and we've got ourselves a really great GTX 560 Ti on our hands that people will no doubt want to get their hands on.

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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.

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.

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