This week has certainly had its share of leaked graphics card news, and the latest information on that market indicates that MSI is working on a enthusiast-level HAWK version of the GTX 660 GPU. That card will take the GK106 Kepler chip to the max with the fastest factory overclocks yet.
Last week Nvidia debuted its GTX 660 graphics card, which is currently the lowest-end GPU to use the Kepler GK106 chip. Once the NDA broke, the review of the card went live, and the performance of the reference designs was analyzed.
GK106 features 5 SMX units in 2.5 Graphics Processing Clusters (GPC), which Nvidia has said is the most that the chip will ever have. The GTX 660 version has 960 CUDA cores, 80 texture units, 24 ROPs, and a 192-bit memory bus.
While GK106 will likely not see a version with three complete GPCs, the mid-range Kepler chip still has a bit of performance headroom that can be unleased with overclocking, and several OEMs are preparing factory overclocked GTX 660 graphics cards with custom coolers.
The latest custom GTX 660 to be leaked is the MSI GTX 660 HAWK edition with out-of-the-box overclocked settings, beefed up power management hardware, and a TwinFrozr IV cooler.
MSI has gone with a custom PCB and cooler to keep the GK106 fed with power and running cool. The PCB has been fitted with a 10-phase VRM, SSC chokes, and IR DirectFETs to provide the power needed to run at overclocked settings. Of course, MSI has included its GPU Reactor hardware – a feature exclusive to its HAWK branded cards that differentiates them from the lower tier lightning and power edition cards. The GPU Reactor is a set of tantalum capacitors that are said to deliver more stable voltage to the Kepler chip.
The graphics card continues to be powered by two 6-pin PCI-E power connectors. MSI has also added a dual BIOS feature to the HAWK card that will run the GPU at GTX 660 reference speeds (980/1033MHz) or at the overclocked profile, depending on physical BIOS switch position.
Clockspeeds are where the MSI GTX 660 HAWK really gets interesting, however. The base clockspeed of 1100MHz is more than most GTX 660 cards run at /boost/ speeds, and the 1176MHz boost speed is the fastest boost speed we’ve seen yet. In an interesting twist, MSI has not touched the clockspeed for the 2GB of GDDR5 memory. Instead, it has left the graphics card clocked at 6008MHz memory (the reference speed). It may be that the memory chips simply cannot overclock much beyond the reference clockspeeds as there are no other factory overclocked GTX 660s that I know of that push the memory clocks beyond reference.
Of course, the other big selling point of this MSI card is the custom cooler – one that Josh seems to like thanks to the addition of “supa pipes!” The Twin Frozr IV is a dual fan cooled aluminum fin array that is connected to the block over the GPU by five heat-pipes. There does not appear to be much information on the HSF beyond that, unfortunately. Judging by past iterations, it should be more than capable of running at the factory overclocked speeds, however.
Display outputs will include two DVI, one DisplayPort, and one HDMI. Pricing and availability are still unknown, but expect it to command a small premium over the standard GTX 660’s $229 price tag.
EXPreview was the source of the photos, however the webpage seems to be down at the moment. Fortunately, WCCF Tech manged to grab them before the original page was lost, and you can see more photos of the MSI GTX 660 HAWK (SKU: N660GTX HAWK) on that page.
A comparison chart of the various GTX 600 series cards.
Note: GTX 650 is GK107, GTX 660 is GK106, GTX 660Ti and above is GK104.
Read more about Nvidia's Kepler graphics card architecture at PC Perspective!