Test Hardware: Graphics Cards And Platform
MSI N580GTX Twin Frozr II OC Edition
Sporting an 800 MHz core and 1024 MHz memory clock, the N580GTX Twin Frozr II OC Edition is equipped with Nvidia’s most-powerful GPU. The Twin Frozr II keeps the graphics processor cool, while noise is kept to a minimum. Overclockers should be happy to hear that voltage control is supported through MSI’s Afterburner utility.
MSI R6950 Twin Frozr II OC Edition
The R6950 Twin Frozr II OC Edition also boasts the effective dual-fan Twin Frozr II cooling system, and this Radeon’s 810 MHz core is fed by 2 GB of on-board GDDR5 running at 1250 MHz. Five display outputs offer a wide variety of monitor options, including multi-display Eyefinity.
MSI N570GTX Twin Frozr II OC Edition
MSI’s GeForce GTX 570 also supports overvoltage via the Afterburner utility and comes factory overclocked with a 750 MHz core. The card’s 1280 MB of on-board RAM runs at 1000 MHz. This model is equipped with the same Twin Frozr II cooler that we’ve seen on MSI's higher-end cards.
This is MSI’s reference Radeon HD 6870 card, featuring stock 900 core and 1050 MHz memory clocks, plus 1 GB of GDDR5. Like the Radeon HD 6950, the 6870’s five display outputs can support up to four 1920x1200 monitors via Eyefinity.
MSI N560GTX-Ti Twin Frozr II OC Edition
The N560GTX supports MSI's Afterburner overvoltage function. The card employs an 880 MHz core and 1050 MHz memory clock. One gigabyte of memory back Nvidia's graphics processor.
MSI N460GTX Cyclone 1GD5 OC Edition
The N460GTX is equipped with MSI's Cyclone GPU cooler. Unlike the Twin Frozr II, this implementation employs a single fan, but its large heat pipes around the circumference prove effective at keeping the graphics processor cool in our tests.
This card is equipped with 1 GB of GDDR5 RAM at 900 MHz and a 725 MHz core clock. Once again, this model offers voltage control via Afterburner.
MSI R5770 Hawk
This is the lowest-priced option of the test samples we're using armed with the Twin Frozr II cooler and capable of accommodating higher voltages with MSI’s overclocking software. Set to employ an 875 MHz core and 1 GB of 1200 MHz GDDR5 memory, the Hawk is a capable Radeon HD 5770 option.
MSI N550GTX-Ti Cyclone II 1GD5 OC Edition
Yet another MSI card that supports overvoltage, the N550GTX-Ti is factory overclocked to 950 MHz. Equipped with 1 GB of GDDR5 RAM at 1075 MHz, this model sports the Cyclone II cooler for low GPU temperatures.
MSI N450GTS Cyclone 1GD5 OC Edition
The lowliest card in our test suite, the N450GTS Cyclone offers the same voltage control and Cyclone cooler seen on higher-end models. With an 850 MHz core and 980 MHz memory clock, this model is pushed ahead of Nvidia's reference specification.
MSI’s P67A-GD65 is packed with features, including two extra SATA controllers, FireWire ports, SLI and CrossFire support, and on-board power and reset switches. The board showed no weaknesses in our P67 Motherboard Roundup: Nine $150-200 Boards article. Armed with the latest stepping of Intel's P67 chipset, we don't have to sweat the SATA bug, either.