MSI HD5770 HAWK
Manufacturer overclocked cards are always a difficult beast. On the one hand they provide better performance for the average user at a inflated price, but on the other they rarely give those of us who are confident about moving a slider justification for the premium they require.
The MSI HD5770 Hawk is absolutely not your ordinary pre-overclocked card. Not here do we find a few extra MHz for another £30. Our extra cash buys us so much more.
Primarily of course it buys us a HD5770. As a affordable gaming card it's without peer. Yes the odd game (ahemCrysis) doesn't really enjoy it much, but the key thing to remember is that our tests are always run at the maximum settings, with a high resolution and nearly always loads of anti-aliasing. So whilst an initial glance at the benchmarks might lead you to conclude that this isn't quite the card for you, actually if you adapt your settings to take into consideration the hardware you have, you'll be pleasantly surprised at what the Hawk can do.
Secondly, and the main point, is that you're buying something far more than just a slightly overclocked reference card. You're buying high-end caps, 7 phase power and a cooler than is worth the price difference alone. And what a difference it makes. The many extra high-end parts on the Hawk easily enabled us to push past the 1GHz mark, decimating the overclock we obtained on the reference model.
So on Monday we saw that overclocked 5770s in Crossfire gave performance that bettered a 5870. If the overclock we can get from the Hawk betters the one we got from the Sapphire, it stands to reason that two of these beauties in Crossfire will be stunning, and still for less than the price of a 5870. After all, they're damn impressive on their own.
If you want a special version of a card, this ticks all the boxes. That cooler is fantastic being both quiet and efficient. Even the £30 premium over a stock 5770 is worth it.