- Introduction, Packaging, Specification and Initial Impressions
- Closer Look
- Utility and Overclocking Impressions
- Test Bench and Testing Methodology
- Futuremark Benchmark
- OpenGL Benchmarks
- Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor
- Rise of the Tomb Raider
- GPU Computation Benchmark
- Folding at Home and LuxMark OpenCL Benchmark
- Overclocking Profile and Manual OC Impressions
- Online Purchase Links
- View All
MSI has three separate utilities. One for downloading and flashing GPU BIOS (Live Update 6), another to swap between profiles (Gaming App 6) among many things and the most recognized MSI Afterburner/Kombuster overclocking and stress test utility. I really wish MSI has a single app just like the others. It simply makes it easier to manage.
MSI Live Update 6
MSI Live Update 6 is self-explanatory. It does have few other functions where I feel it’s unlikely to be used as GPU BIOS roll outs are not done frequently.
Gigabyte Xtreme Gaming app did not have any BIOS update utility. Zotac Firestorm does have the option to manually flash and backup BIOS. MSI should consider keeping a BIOS backup function. In an unfortunate scenario of bad flashing (due to power outage at a convenient time), a user can always switch to onboard, set the GPU priority to integrated graphics (assuming the chipset has onboard graphics), re-install the card except the video output, start the system, re-flash, revert BIOS setting and change the video output cable. It saves the unnecessary trip for RMA.
Of course, if there’s going to be a backup function you will need manual BIOS flashing function.
MSI Gaming App 6
The main interface of the MSI Gaming App 6 shows the current clock speed which fluctuates depending on the GPU’s load. Zotac Firestorm utility does the same. Gigabyte’s XG app updates the Base and the boost clock after an overclock setting is set. It also displays the current clock speed just below it. This makes it easier since Afterburner does not show the actual base/boost clock speed once a setting is applied.
Gaming App 6 has other functions. One of them is one those eye strain reduction software. MSI calls it ‘eye rest’. I prefer my default setting as this changes the colour setting of the panel.
The LED tab allows you to control two LED highlights- one is on both sides of the fan area of the black coloured section of the shroud (which MSI calls it ‘front’). And another on the left side logo. While the logo uses multi-coloured LED, the LED highlights on the fan shroud is only red. If you select both or front, you can only play with the effects. With side option selected, you can do all that and set your preferred colour. The card’s LED effects can change according to the music you’re playing. This function is also there on Gigabyte XG app.
MSI’s Gaming App works for its motherboard and graphic card lineups. Which is why the CPU/Mobo-centric options are greyed-out as this is reviewed on the Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming GT. The OSD creates an overlay in the game or running a benchmark. It does not work with games/benchmarks using DX12 or Vulkan API. I wish there was a way that the Gaming app could record the minimum/maximum/average FPS or take multiple screenshots like FRAPS. Maybe it’s too much to ask? Maybe not. You decide. You can set the font size. The font colour is red and you cannot change it. The function is more or less the same as the function in DOOM’s in-game overlay. MSI just needs to work on DX12 and Vulkan API-rendered games/benchmark utilities compatibility.
The snow-flake icon is a cooler boost option. It doesn’t have a dedicated panel, but judging by the sound on the fans I believe it increases the fan speed for a short time.
I am not sure what to make of Dragon Eye.
At first, it made an impression that it records gameplays and lets you upload to twitch/Youtube. But it’s a utility that allows you to view user-submitted videos or streams while you’re playing a game in the pre-selected corner. There are those who do watch streams and play games on their at the same time. Most of such people have more than display panels. MSI is more like a poor man’s solution. At the time of writing, there were a handful of submitted videos on the list. MSI posted a tutorial for this function:
This overlay works for some games. Most of them are well-known PC titles such as The Division, DOTA2, TF2, CS:GO, Fallout 4, etc. Some games are required to turn off some settings, such as disabling UPlay’s in-game overlay.
Issues with Afterburner
Then there’s the Afterburner 4.2.0. This is a widely used overclocking utility that uses Rivaturner’s guts.
Afterburner is used by most enthusiasts, reviewers and YouTubers for overclocking even on graphic cards made by others. But manual overclocking and fan control did not work with Gaming X. Gaming App has an option to override manual fan settings, but it still didn’t go as planned after unchecking it. Since Gaming app does not display updated base/boost clock speed post overclocking, I had to use the XG app. This was the case with both OC and Gaming BIOS.
It’s at this point it became clear I couldn’t overclock the card using Afterburner. After overclocking the card using After Burner, 3Dmark Fire Strike Ultra passed through generating the benchmark as same as Gaming Mode’s scores. With the GPUZ’s clock speed and other settings set at max, it showed that Afterburner is ineffective as it showed Gaming profile’s boost clock. I had no choice but to use Gigabyte’s Extreme Gaming app to manually overclock. And it worked!
I am speculating this is due to the BIOS provided to me by MSI. It lets me swap between two pre-programmed BIOS containing the same overclocks as ‘Gaming’ and ‘OC’ profiles via NVFlash. That doesn’t explain how Gigabyte’s Xtreme Gaming app is able to override and manually overclock irrespective of the BIOS used.
Initially, I’ve added 125 MHz over MSI Gaming X GTX 1070’s OC profile and increased the fan speed manually to 86%. GPUZ’s Sensor tab showed that manual overclocking worked the way it should with the XG app. I didn’t try with Firestorm, simply because XG app displayed the newly updated base/boost clock. GPU-Z wasn’t able to show the base/boost clock readout for some odd reason.