The simple fact right up front here is that the AMD R9 270X is an evolution of what saw with the Pitcairn products in the HD 7870, so it should come as no surprise that the new card is positioned just above the former in the gaming market. Mind-blowing performance isn’t what AMD is about these days, and this card is proof of that. Rather, it’s more about extending the shelf life and relevance of Pitcairn (and Bonaire, with the budget cards), in a newly refreshed package that offers strong gaming value for consumers. That is not a bad thing, regardless of how you look at it.
That said, you don’t get the full benefit of all the new features on the 270X, as those are relegated to the upper echelon 280X and 290X. You will, however, get great support for OpenGL, DirectX11.2 and AMDs Mantle API. You also get 1080p gaming at high settings and of course the 4k UltraHD gaming & movie capabilities. The 270X likely won’t have enough horsepower on its own, but CrossFire is certainly recommended. But the point is you get the option, and it’s a push in the right direction by AMD to try to stay ahead of the curve.
With a healthy factory overclock out the box, the MSI R9 270X HAWK can run with a Radeon 7950, and handily beats Nvidia’s GTX 660. That’s very impressive, as this new card essentially cannibalizes AMD’s current lineup, and effectively renders the 7950 end of life; the price structure simply cannot support it since the reference 270X is only $200. We suspect the 7950 supply will dry up and likely see some clearance sales, so keep your eyes open for some deals, particularly if you already own one and want to go with CrossFire.
Since MSI’s Afterburner isn’t ready for primetime with the R9 series at launch time, the triple voltage unlocking abilities aren’t currently available for this review, so unfortunately we weren’t able to fairly test the overclocking prowess on this card. Hopefully we can update that in the near future. That said, we’ve historically seen what the MSI triple voltage abilities, backed by the improved power design and solid components, can do. So we fully expect the R9 270X HAWK to overclock like a champ. However, it must be mentioned that you’ll experience diminishing returns because of the healthy factory overclock already built into the card.
MSI has the R9 270X HAWK set to retail for $220, which is $20 more than the reference design. We think that’s an excellent value considering the high caliber components, low temperatures and noise levels, and factory overclock (not to mention potentially more OC headroom available). So against the AMD competition, MSI’s card is very well positioned. However, Nvidia has recently announced price reductions on their competing cards, so things will be very interesting, as AMD is in for a tough fight.
If you’re looking for a new card in the $200 range, the MSI R9 270X HAWK is an excellent value option, showcasing a strong combination of sleek styling, low temperatures and noise, and great performance.
MSI R9 270X HAWK