MSI R7 370 GAMING 2G Graphics Card Review
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MSI R7 370 GAMING 2G Graphics Card Review

September 16th, 2015 James Leave a comment Go to comments

Overview

 

I may not have planned this so well! Last week I spent some time with the fastest Graphics Card we have seen here at pcG, namely the Gigabyte GEFORCE GTX 980Ti G1 GAMING. As you can imagine I enjoyed my time with that card immensely, but now I have to take a look at something from the other end of the spectrum, and I mean right at the other end!

I present to you the MSI R7 370 GAMING 2G, that, at the time of review is the cheapest (but maybe not the slowest!) Graphics Card we’ve ever seen here at pcG. Of course to think about performance at a £125 price point may be a little silly, but what do you get for your money is a valid question. And, it is the question we will try and answer by the time we get to the end of this review.

The MSI R7 370 GAMING G2 in an AMD based card with 2GB (there’s a 4GB version also, here) of GDDR5 memory running at 5700MHz, with a maximum Core Clock of 1050MHz. The card is PCIe 3.0 Ready, supports AMD’s Graphics Core Now (GCN) architecture, AMD Eyefinity, Mantle and has support for DirectX 12. In addition to this the card is power by a single 6-pin PCIe power connector. This particular MSI card features a custom TWIN FROZR V cooler with two 95mm TORX fans and has a TDP of 115W. One would hope that a card such as this would be pretty small, alas at 258mm(L) x 132mm(H) x 37mm(W) it’s not that small at all!

 

MSI-new ‘With every new generation of GPUs comes more performance. With every new generation of MSI Twin Frozr we give you less noise and heat!. We’ve listened to all your requests and the new Twin Frozr V is smaller, features stronger fans, generates less noise, keeps your graphics card and its components cooler and matches perfectly with your MSI GAMING motherboard including some funky LED lightning. We’ve spent 18 months on the development of the Twin Frozr V, including field testing in gaming cafés to ensure the cards have the quality and stability to give you the FPS you need.’

 

MSI R7 370 GAMING 2G - box front MSI R7 370 GAMING 2G - box back

 

The MSI R7 370 GAMING 2G arrived at pcG in a predominately black box adorned with the ubiquitous MSI Dragon logo, a design that is now synonymous with PC Gaming, although the design is now beginning to show its age a little I feel (Dragons, tick!). The front of the box keeps it nice and simple with basic brands and product names featuring on the right hand side of the box. The left corner highlights the 2GB of GDDR5 VRAM, PCI-E 3.0 and the fact that this card is the OC Edition. Stuck on the front of the box is a telephone number for support, although all of the writing is in Chinese!?

Looking at the back of the box we can see various features of the R7 370 GAMING have been highlighted. In the top left we seen imagery showcasing the MSI Gaming App, Military Grade Class 4, Twin Frozr V and Ready for 3DMark. The central body of the back of the box highlights further the TORX fans, SuperSU heatpipes, Zero Frozr and the Gaming App. Below this there’s a list of Features, System Requirements and a basic specifications table (see Specifications/Features below).

 

MSI R7 370 GAMING 2G - inner box MSI R7 370 GAMING 2G - inner box (open)

 

On opening the outer box (there’s a clue right there!) we find a black inner box; well a tray with an MSI logo atop acting a bit like a lid really! Removing the top tray allows us to see the R7 370 GAMING 2G Graphics Card nestling within soft foam and protected by an anti-static bag.

 

MSI R7 370 GAMING 2G - box contents

 

Within the tray we find an MSI Graphics Card Quick User’s Guide, Drivers and Utilities CD, D-Sub (VGA) to DVI connector and a Gaming Series Products catalogue.

 

At the time of review the MSI R7 370 GAMING 2G is retailing for approximately £122 on Amazon and comes with a 3 year warranty.

 

Specifications/Features

courtesy of MSI

Graphics Processing Unit AMD Radeon™ R7 370
Interface PCI Express x16 3.0
Boost / Base Core Clock 1050 MHz / 1000 MHz (OC Mode)
1030 MHz / 980 MHz (Gaming Mode)
975 MHz / 925 MHz (Silent Mode)
Memory Size(MB) 2048
Memory Type GDDR5
Memory Interface 256 bits x2
Memory Clock Speed(MHz) 5700 (OC Mode) / 5600
DVI Connectors 2 (Dual-link DVI-I x 1, Dual-link DVI-D x 1), Max Resolution: 2560 x 1600 @60 Hz.
HDMI Connectors 1 (version 1.4a)
Max Resolution: 4096×2160 @24 Hz (1.4a)
DisplayPort 1 (version 1.2)
Max Resolution: 4096×2160 @60 Hz
Maximum Displays 3
HDCP Support Y
RAMDAC speed (MHz) 400
DirectX Version Support 12
OpenGL Version Support 4.4
Multi-GPU Technology CrossFire™
Card Dimension(mm) 258 x 132 x 37
Card Weight (g) 620
Power consumption (W) 110
Power Connectors 6-pin x1
Accessories DVI to VGA Dongle x 1

* Additional details available here

 

First Impressions

 

MSI R7 370 GAMING 2G - above MSI R7 370 GAMING 2G - side

 

The MSI R7 370 GAMING 2G is a familiar design as it’s practically identical (just a little smaller) to the Nvidia based 980 we reviewed last year, and, it’s a good looking card especially if you like red (the Gamers colour of choice it would seem!). It’s a little too long (258mm) for my liking though, especially knowing the performance it offers, something like the Zotac 970 measures in at just 205mm and offers far more performance…

 

MSI R7 370 GAMING 2G - warning MSI R7 370 GAMING 2G - front MSI R7 370 GAMING 2G - back

 

As you can see from the image above left the top of the cooler features a large sticker over one of the fans. This sticker draws your attention to ‘Zero Frozr’, a simple, clever tech that sees the fans stop spinning when the GPU is below 65 degrees Celsius. REMOVE BEFORE GAMING!

With the sticker removed we can take a look at this Twin Frozr design a little more closely. The top of the card is dominated by those twin Torx fans, each fan actually spins independently of the other, which is pretty cool! Information on MSI’s website suggests this card runs 23% cooler than the reference design, although I have to confess that I’m unsure of what that reference design is!

Looking at the back of the card there’s really not much to talk about, other than the connector (found top right and covered with a red cover) indicating that this card supports AMD’s Crossfire technology.

 

MSI R7 370 GAMING 2G - left MSI R7 370 GAMING 2G - right

Looking at the top of the card (the bit you look at in your Gaming Rig!) we can see the nickel plated copper heatsink with its 8mm heatpipes. At the far right end of the card we can see that it’s also powered by a a single 6-pin PCIe power connector. The Dragon logo that we see on the left not only looks good, it illuminates (white) too! And, via the MSI Gaming App the effect can be modified, breathing, flashing etc.

Looking at the PCIe side of the card we again get to see the two large 8mm heatpipes and a little more of that nickel plated copper heatsink.

 

MSI R7 370 GAMING 2G - outputs MSI R7 370 GAMING 2G - end

 

Looking at the outputs for the MSI R7 370 GAMING 2G we can see that it features one DisplayPort 1.2 (Max Resolution: 4096×2160 @60 Hz), one HDMI 1.4a port (Max Resolution: 4096×2160 @24 Hz), one DVI-I port and one DVI-D port (Max Resolution: 2560 x 1600 @60 Hz). The card also supports HDCP and up to a maximum of three displays.

Looking at the other end of the card there’s again not much to see except for the end of the nickel plated copper heatsink, and the end of the plastic shroud that covers the main area of the card.

Overall I would have to say that while the MSI R7 370 GAMING 2G may be a budget Gaming Graphics Card, it certainly doesn’t look like it is, I guess we will have to wait and see…

 

Hardware Installation

 

Installing the MSI R7 370 GAMING 2G into our Test Rig was as easy as one would expect, the card’s relative small size and the fact that it requires only a single 6-pin power plug makes things even easier.

  • Test Rig Setup

  • Case Cooler Master HAF XB Power Supply Corsair Professional Series AX 760i
    Motherboard ASRock Fatal1ty Z97X Killer CPU Intel Core i5-4690K
    CPU Cooler Raijintek Themis RAM HyperX Savage 2400MHz 8GB Kit
    Graphics Card MSI R7 370 GAMING 2G SSD HyperX FURY 120GB

     

    MSI R7 370 GAMING 2G - installed (side) MSI R7 370 GAMING 2G - installed (On)

     

    With the card up and running we can get to take a look at the Dragon illumination. This illumination can be modified from within the MSI GAMING APP, see below for more detail.

     

    Testing Methodology/Setup

     

    Our Test Rig was treated to a fresh install of Windows 7 Professional N 64Bit (Service Pack 1) with all associated drivers also installed. The latest AMD Driver (AMD Catalyst driver 15.7.1) was then downloaded and installed and used throughout testing.

    I also installed MSI’s Gaming App that allows you to set one of three Profiles (OC, Gaming(default) and Silent), the effect that this has on the Core Clock can be seen in the image below. In addition to this there’s some on screen monitoring, very similar to MSI’s own afterburner and of course that all important control over the illuminating Dragon on the side of the card.

     

    MSI Gaming App (R7 370 2G)

     

    For testing purposes we use MSI Afterburner (here), to help us with our testing and overclocking.

     

  • Overclocking the MSI R7 370 GAMING 2G using MSI Afterburner (Version 4.1.0)
  •  

    MSI R7 370 - OC Settings

    Overclocking the AMD based MSI R7 370 GAMING 2G is very much like any other AMD based card, and not to dissimilar to Nvidia’s GPU Boost 2. The basic premise is that you overclock the card’s Boost Clock, this by default is set to 1030MHz while in Gaming Mode. This means that the card will boost to this speed as long as it can remain within its TDP of 150W (meaning that as long as it doesn’t get too hot!). Switching to OC Mode increases this figure to 1050Hz whilst also increasing the Base Clock to 1000MHz (up from 980) and increasing the Memory Clock to 5700MHz (up from 5600).

    But by using MSI Afterburner we can further increase the Core Clock to 1150MHz, that is the maximum supported. At the same time I increased the Power Limit to 120%, increased the Memory Clock to 1500MHz (up from 1425) and, in an attempt to keep any throttling at bay I also increased the fan speed manually to 100%.

    I actually found in testing that you could run all day with a Core of 1050MHz and a Memory Clock of 1500MHz, without adjusting the Power Limit or adjusting the fan speed with no throttling, which is kinda cool… 😉

     

    Hardware Performance

     

  • MSI R7 370 GAMING 2G – STOCK/Game Mode (Core: 980MHz / Boost: 1030MHz / Mem: 5600MHz)
  • Benchmark Ambient Temperature Max GPU Temp Delta Temp Result
    Batman Arkham Origins 22.00 65.00 43.00 88.00 FPS (average)
    Tomb Raider 22.00 64.00 42.00 45.5 FPS (average)
    Metro Last Light 22.00 65.00 43.00 36.00 (average)
    UNiGiNE Heaven 22.00 65.00 43.00 659
    3DMark (Fire Strike) 23.00 64.00 41.00 5216

     

  • MSI R7 370 GAMING 2G – OVERCLOCKED (Core: 1000MHz / Boost: 1150MHz / Mem: 6000MHz)
  • Benchmark Ambient Temperature Max GPU Temp Delta Temp Result
    Batman Arkham Origins 22.00 50.00 28.00 95.00 FPS (average)
    Tomb Raider 22.00 48.00 26.00 49.50 FPS (average)
    Metro Last Light 22.00 50.00 28.00 40.00 (average)
    UNiGiNE Heaven 23.00 49.00 26.00 712
    3DMark (Fire Strike) 23.00 47.00 24.00 5605

     

    Comparative Test Results (at stock):

    NOTE: Please note that all of these benchmarks are valid and correct at the time of review and we do not use historical data. Each benchmark is re-run every time (against our Test Cards) for each new GPU review using the latest Drivers at that time. Therefore the scores may fluctuate between reviews as Driver optimizations come into play…

     

  • BATMAN ARKHAM ORIGINS
  • TOMB RAIDER
  • METRO: LAST LIGHT
  • UNIGINE HEAVEN 4.0
  • 3DMARK (Firestrike)
  •  

    Well I guess the results speak for themselves the MSI R7 370 GAMING 2G appears at the bottom of our charts and is the slowest Graphics Card that we have ever tested! But to dwell on this would be to miss the point of such a card. The important point here is the cost of the card, as at around £125 the R7 370 GAMING 2G is the cheapest Graphics Card that we have ever seen also. What we have to try and weigh up here are two things; is the performance on offer worth the asking price? – and – Is the performance on offer going to give you a decent Gaming experience?

    What’s a little surprising is that the Gaming experience at 1920×1080 is actually quite adequate. The benchmarks scores show that both Batman and Tomb Raider are more than playable on Max settings, although on Metro you’re going have to tweak those settings a bit as 40FPS average is playable, but only just in our opinion here at pcG. I even did some Gaming of my own in Survarium (BETA) and Mad Max and the game ran at around 40 FPS, and was playable at 1080P. I think the most important aspect of this card it that it’s a card for resolutions up to and including 1920×1080 ONLY!

    The card’s pretty darn quite too (actually it’s silent!) thanks in part to Zero Frozr, where the card’s twin 95mm fans don’t spin up until the temperature gets over 65 degrees! Even then when the fans do spin up they’re inaudible…

     

    Final Thoughts

     

    Yes, the MSI R7 370 GAMING 2G may be the slowest Graphics Card that we’ve ever tested, but thankfully in its defence it’s also the cheapest! The surprise is that if you focus on 1080P Gaming ONLY then the R7 370 GAMING 2G makes a pretty good partner, especially if you’re planning a Living Room PC, Steam Box, HTPC or the like…

    The MSI R7 370 GAMING 2G arrived at pcG in a smart predominately black box adorned with the ubiquitous Dragon logo. Within the box the card was found to be well packaged and presented. First impressions were that the card was bigger (258mm(L) x 132mm(H) x 37mm(W)) than I would have thought, as we know there’s more power in far smaller packages (see here). But this MSI example is a good looking card with a familiar cooler, the Twin Frozr design seems to have remained unchanged now for some time, but if it aint broke…

    From a performance point of view you could say that the results are disappointing, but to say that would be to miss the point of the MSI R7 370 GAMING 2G. This card is all about tight budgets and value for money. The question is really what do you get for £125? The answer is a card that can be used to play games at around 30-50 FPS at a MAXIMUM resolution of 1920×1080. This card should not be used for any resolution above this, as it simply doesn’t have the horsepower! But at 1080P the Gaming experience is OK, obviously depending on in-game settings, but you shouldn’t find yourself on the lowest settings that’s for sure, all of our benchmarks are done at max setting at 1080P, so as you can see the card is capable of some decent frame rates to be fair.

    Another plus point is that the card is not only whisper quiet, it’s silent, as the twin Torx fans don’t spin up until the card reaches 65 degrees Celsius thanks to MSI Zero Frozr tech. Even when the fans do spin up there no associated noise as the RPM is so low, thanks to the card’s general low operating temperature.

    Overall the MSI R7 370 GAMING 2G may well be the slowest and cheapest (thankfully) Graphics Card that we have seen here at pcG, but it still has its place. And that place is likely to be in a Living Room PC, where the resolution isn’t going to be more than 1080P! If that’s the sort of card you’re looking for and your budget is really tight, then this Graphics Card may be just what you’re looking for…

     

    Verdict

    Please Share, Like & Comment below, we really value your thoughts and opinions…

     

    Design/Quality pcGameware awards the MSI R7 370 GAMING 2G a Silver
    Performance
    Value
    Overall

     

    Many thanks to MSI for providing this sample for review

     



    1. SviatA
      November 20th, 2015 at 14:00 | #1

      Well, the card disappoints. If we speak about the extreme players. For me, 720p resolution would be enough.
      30-50 FPS rate is certainly very good; I also like the Amazon price (well, it’s lower than on the pc24.de or other European stores). Still, I think that AMD HBM 2.0 may be a better point to consider. Although, waiting for several months may be too hard.