The following chart compares the overall result (frames per second) across all benchmarks with the maximum power consumption at peak 3D workload conditions. It’s important to take these results with a grain of salt, as no 3D board runs at peak load at all times, and also because the power consumption readings apply to the entire test system. The reference card does well here, which does not say anything about its overclocking capabilities. Overclocking clearly increases performance, but it is apparent that basic GPU overclocking is only half of the equation. You will only get noticeable performance gains if you also add video memory tweaks to your overclocking ambitions. A 4% performance increase for an extra 7 W seems reasonable.
A better overall performance result leads to a better bang for the buck, which is why all overclocked products look better in the benchmarks. Effectively, this is all about a reference board against factory-overclocked cards, which cost an additional $50-100. Is it worth spending the extra money, knowing that the overclocking benefits will be limited at default voltages? For enthusiasts, this is going to be debatable. MSI's dual-fan cooler does help enable cooler GPU operation, despite the slight factory overclock. The card even generates less noise. If you were to buy a comparable aftermarket cooler, you’d have to install it separately and you would be working on a reference PCB layout as well. At the same time, it's important to remember that the extra $100 you pay suddenly puts you in the neighborhood of a GeForce GTX 480, which is faster by default and can also be overclocked.
In the end, you’re getting an overclocked product with better cooling, better performance, lower noise, and functional 2D profiles (the higher factory clock speeds ensure that the card throttles GPU and memory clock speed when it runs in 2D mode). Overclocking GPU and the memory on your own typically leads to increased idle clock speeds and substantially higher idle power consumption. Our cross check shows that you’ll be getting similar results on factory-overclocked cards from other vendors as well. It doesn't make sense to go for such a card from a performance standpoint, because of a disproportion between performance gain and additional cost. Enthusiasts might still want to consider a higher-clocked card, though. As always, the last bit of performance comes at much greater cost.