This week I review the MSI Radeon R7 370 4G video graphics card (model: R7 370 GAMING 4G). This card is similar to the XFX R7 370 I reviewed previously, but includes 4 GB of GDDR5 memory instead of just the 2 GB found on the XFX model. While I do not think this will have much impact on the actual mining performance, it does provide some amount of protection against mining coins such as Ethereum which has a 1.4 GB and growing DAG file, that needs to fit into the graphics card’s memory in order to be mine-able.
Regarding Ethereum, which is the most profitable GPU mine-able coin at the moment, there is still some question as to which will occur first; the hard limit of 2GB being reached by the DAG file rendering 2 GB cards useless for Ethereum mining, or the switch of the Ethereum code base to use PoS for generating new coins. If the PoS phase were to be delayed, and assuming ETH mining is profitable several months from now, a 4 GB card will be able to continue mining once the DAG crosses the limit.
Another consideration is that 4 GB cards will retain a higher resale value once they are no longer useful for mining. The current premium for choosing 4 GB over a 2 GB card is around $20, so you can make up your own mind if it is worth the extra cost or not.
The MSI R7 370 comes attractively packaged in a heavy duty double boxed configuration. The outer-box is a heavier cardboard than some of MSI’s competitors uses, and while maybe just a cosmetic feature for some, I appreciated the more robustness, as the thin cereal box wrappers used by other manufacturers tend to rip easily if you are not extremely careful when opening the end flaps.
While much of this is definitely falling in nit–picking territory, I have often resold my cards after using them and these small attention to details can be beneficial. By keeping all of the little accessories, dust caps, electrical terminal covers, and original packing materials in like-new shape, I have been able to fetch a $10 – $20 premium on the used market, compared to sellers without the packaging. Of course a ripped box, or missing dust cover in no way affects the condition of the video card, but buyers notice these small details and maybe figure if you kept this stuff in god shape you may have took good care of the card as well.
Carefully removing the inner box reveals yet another nicely packed container, which includes the drivers CD, owners manual, warranty card, and accessory’s all packaged in a black cardboard “envelope” with an attractive MSI logo. This cardboard envelope serves a dual purpose, not only as a place to stash the accessories but also acting as the protective cover for the remaining components. Under this layer there is a black foam pad to separate the video card from the rest of the packaging and to provide additional protection.
After removing the black foam pad, we are finally able reveal the actual video card, nestled in a custom-fit foam bed specifically for the GPU. The card is visible through its semi-transparent standard anti-static bag.
Some of the highlighted feature set for the R7 370 Gaming 4GB listed by MSI are as follows:
TWIN FROZR V – TORX FAN
Combines the aspects of a traditional fan blade which maximizes downwards airflow and air dispersion to the massive heat sink below them and a dispersion fan blade which intakes more airflow to maximizes air dissipation to hear sink. The Advanced Dispersion Blade design generates 19% more airflow without increasing drag for supreme silent performance.
Enhanced dissipation efficiency SuperSu Architecture is the best cooling solution for graphics cards. The GPU is cooled by a massive nickel-plated copper base plate connected to Super Pipes (8mm heat pipes) on the MSI GAMING series graphics card. Additionally, the new heat pipe layout increases efficiency by reducing the length of unused heat pipe and a special SU-form design.
MILITARY CLASS COMPONENTS
One of the deciding factors in performance is the quality of the components used. That is why MSI only uses MIL-STD-810G certified components for its Gaming cards because only these components have proven to be able to withstand the torturous circumstances of extreme gaming and overclocking.
MSI HI-C CAP
MSI’s Hi-c CAPs are tiny, and super-efficient capacitors. Their small footprint allows the installation of heat sinks and their high efficiency (93%) actually reduces the total thermal footprint of the card.
MSI SUPER FERRITE CHOKES
Super Ferrite Chokes use a Ferrite core that is Super-Permeable. This allows the Super Ferrite Chokes to run at a 35 degree Celsius lower temperature, have a 30% higher current capacity, a 20% improvement in power efficiency and better overclocking power stability.
MSI SOLID CAP
With their aluminum core design, Solid CAP’s have been a staple in high-end design mainboard designs and provides lower Equivalent Series Resistance (ESR) as well as its over-10-year lifespan.
While there is a lot of marketing speak in there, let’s take a moment to look at some of the more relevant features of the MSI R7 370 video card that directly pertain to mining.
The Advanced Dispersion Blade claiming 19% more airflow over the heatsink and surrounding area sounds promising. After operating 4 of these cards in an open air rig, and leaving the fans on the automatic setting, I can attest to the fact that these cards do indeed run quieter while still keeping the GPU temperatures in the 50-60 C range. Perhaps the “SuperSU” heat-pipes help this aspect, this is a rather hard aspect to measure but anything helping to keep the card cool will help with mining.
MIL-STD-810G certified components are a good thing, as when used for mining these cards will be running hard 24/7 over several months, perhaps years without the routine shutdown that most gaming rigs would enjoy. This means sustained heat, stress, and overall hard work so having heavy duty components will hopefully help with stable, long lasting, and reliable trouble-free operation.
MSI’s Hi-c CAPs, Super Ferrite Chokes, and Solid Caps all claim to be superior and aid in keeping temperatures lower. Again the two main trouble spots for mining, and probably high end GPU’s in general, seem to be heat and reliable components that can take the abuse. So anything helping to achieve this end is a plus.
A more directly observable feature of the MSI R7 370 is the single 6-pin power connector. This indicates the card will draw less power than a similar one with a 8-pin or dual 6-pin connectors. As excess power consumption eats into the profits, cards that can use less power and still provide the same overall hash rate are a big plus when it comes to mining. MSI lists the R7 370 as having a power consumption of 150 watts.
The MSI R7 370 comes with 4GB 256-bit of GDDR5 memory, has 1024 stream processor, and its core clock is set to 1020 MHz, with a “Boost” clock of 1070 MHz. The memory clock is listed as 5700 MHz, or a setting of 1425 MHz on the bus.
On the next page we will look at setting up the MSI R7 370 cards in a mining rig.