Bundle, Afterburner, Kombuster
For all the glitz and glamour of the card, the bundle is basic. MSI does have one weapon in the software arsenal and it goes by the name of Afterburner/Kombuster. We updated the CD version (v1.4.1) to the latest stable build (v1.5.0) and had a play with what MSI believes is the best graphics-card utility on the market.
Designed with cooperation from RivaTuner, the Afterburner interface is intuitive and easy to navigate. As shown above and alluded to on the previous page, the GPU's BIOS pumps 1.2V through the engine. It can be reduced to 1.1V and increased to 1.35V. Somewhat strangely, there's no method of adjusting the voltage for the memory modules.
Once installed, a click on the left-hand 'K' launches the Kombuster stress-testing application. Those who tinker with overclocking GPUs will know that the skin is practically identical to FurMark's...and it does much the same job in loading up the graphics card.
Overclocking made easy
Back to the Afterburner, overclocking the HAWK is as easy as pushing the sliders across to the right and then qualifying settings with Kombuster. Stealing some thunder from the power-draw section, the system draws 220W when under load at 1.125V, 231W at 1.2V (default), 245W at 1.275V, and 261W at 1.35V - all at the card's stock frequencies of 875MHz/4,800MHz.
The fan speed can be set to either auto or manually defined. The automatic setting enables the user to decide the speed of the fan at various temperatures, invoked by dragging the preset graph, above, by up to eight steps. Here, the fan will spin at 70 per cent once the GPU hits 70°C.
Percentages are somewhat hit-and-miss, because a 36 per cent fan-speed relates to the twin Frozr II fans spinning at 1,520rpm, 72 per cent at 2,200rpm, whereas 99 per cent correlates to a whopping 4,800rpm.
The fans can be termed quiet whenever under 2,500rpm, but increase them to maximum and they emit a Delta-like scream.
Crank everything up to maximum and the card's ripe for overclocking. We hit 1,020MHz engine and 5,600MHz memory (875MHz/4,800MHz default) with the fans on ear-piercing mode. At a more-palatable 70 per cent speed (2,150rpm) the overclock isn't quite as high, topping out at 980MHz core and 5,560MHz memory.
Afterburner's a handy bit of software that's just lacking memory-voltage support. We like the fact that one can save specific profiles, as the utility works on numerous ATI and NVIDIA cards.