Before we begin looking closely at this video card we do feel it necessary to explain a few things. We could wax poetically on how AMD has been able to create a GPU that offers better than NVIDIA’s version at this price point (the GeForce 950 series), but that is not going to happen. Basically in some ways it is much, much harder to cut the ‘Trinidad’ core as much slack as the R9 390X’s core. Some of this is because the Trinidad core is a cut down, lower powered design and the R9 390X still is one potent performer, some of it is because the R7 370 has to compete in one of the most crucial markets (the $150 price range) and we hate to see either AMD or NV produce a product that is less than the very best; mainly though it is because this core may have been called the Curacao in the R7 265 days, but before then it was the Pitcairn Pro that powered the HD 7850 series. In other words the R7 370 relies upon a design that has been available since 2012. This means no FreeSync support, no bridgeless CrossFire, and no TrueAudio support.

Acting as a counterpoint to this is the fact that a HD 7850 was only clocked at 860Mhz, an R7 265 was clocked at 925Mhz, and a stock R7 370 comes in at a relatively blistering pace of 975Mhz. In other words, the core design may not have changed but AMD has refined this architecture to the point where they can guarantee clock speeds that no HD 7850 could ever hope to match. We will leave deciding whether or not this is enough justification to change the name of the core to ‘Trinidad’ and making it an x70 card instead of a x60 card.

In either case, this is not the fault of MSI – nor any 3rd party manufacture, instead the blame lies solely at the feet of AMD. Instead of blaming MSI for this sorry state of affairs, we have to judge on whether or not MSI was able to take these ‘lemons’ and make lemonade…instead of taking cyanide and making cyanide-aid. As such personal opinions on the state of the core will have almost no impact on the MSI R7 370 Gaming 2’s final score. Instead we will be judging on if MSI indeed did make a cool refreshing drink from the mess AMD handed them…or if they simply added clean water to a bucket of mud and expected the mud to become clean!box - MSI R7 370 Gaming 2GAs you can see the shipping container is classic MSI Gaming series. In other words its eye catching in a bold and brash way that most PC gaming enthusiast will like. The downside to this however is the fact that it is extremely similar to every other MSI Gaming video card shipping container and consumer confusion is a real possibility. So if you are looking at multiple models at your local bricks and mortar store be careful to not buy the ‘wrong’ model!access - MSI R7 370 Gaming 2GThe accessories which accompany this model are a touch on the sparse side, but are also very similar to more expensive models. Basically you can expect to find a DVI adapter, a user manual, a pamphlet that shows other MSI offerings, and a DVD with AMD drivers. You will not find any 6 to 8-pin adapters though as this unit only requires a single 6-pin connector, and as such any power adapter would be redundant.ang - MSI R7 370 Gaming 2GOn just a cursory glance you would never guess that this is a more value oriented video card. Its custom heatsink – with multiple heatpipes, its two large fans, and its rather aggressive red and black fascia just do not scream ‘budget’ or ‘corner cutting’ like some cards in this price range. Of course, with that being said this card is not as robust as the R9 390X Gaming 6 or GeForce GTX 980 Ti Gaming 6, instead it is simply built not like a $155 dollar card and instead more like the typical $250 card.ang2 - MSI R7 370 Gaming 2GThe upside to this is that the over, over, over-clocked ‘Trinidad’ core’s temperatures are easily kept in check, in fact this card runs fairly cool and at only barely audible levels. Considering this is two of the largest negatives associated with AMD video cards, MSI has made their AMD based video cards a much more enticing proposition. In fact, even though this card is overclocked, those two large fans are not only independently cooled (just like on MSI’s more expensive video cards) but can actually stop spinning during idle times.ang4 - MSI R7 370 Gaming 2GThis can be disconcerting to novices who have never used such an advanced design before, but this is why there is a large ‘warning’ label directly on the anti-static bag that it comes in! As with other MSI Gaming video cards, the reason these large fans are able to pull off this feat is because of the Twin Frozr V heatsink that MSI have bestowed upon this card. Of course, this is not the same heatsink design which accompanies the R9 390X – as that would needlessly add to the cost of the card, instead MSI have customized their basic design so as to be more than capable of handling this 110 TDP core….even when overclocked beyond the references specifications – which are themselves overclocked beyond the 265, and 7850 predecessors.sink - MSI R7 370 Gaming 2GTo pull this off MSI has used their large dual heatsink design that makes the Twin Frozr V famous, and simply downsized its dimensions and reduced the number of heatpipes. Specifically, this heatsink is still overly wide compared to a standard height heatsink, but is shorter than say the R 9 380 or R9 390X versions. This difference is not that much, but this card is short enough that it will not overhang the motherboard’s SATA ports to the point where they are blocked – something even the R9 380 cannot claim to be able to do. Two large heatpipes are also more than enough as these two heatpipes come in direct contact with the core in a Heatpipe Direct Touch (HDT) design that many a CPU cooling solution uses!front - MSI R7 370 Gaming 2GThis robust and arguably over-built design certainly has many positives but also a couple negatives worth pointing out as well. Because it sits taller in a case than technically allowed, some smaller cases will not be able to accommodate it – as the side panel will be blocked by the top of the card. Most cases should still be more than capable of handling these extra dimensions, and basically as long as your case has a 120mm fan exhaust port on its side it should be able to handle this card.

This issue is really not that big a deal, and neither is the extra length. You see while this card is shorter than a R9 380, it still is longer than it needs to be and this extra room has not been put to good use. We would have zero issues with the length of this card if MSI had used it for the heatsink, instead a good inch of plastic fascia overhangs the heatsink and is for all intents and purposes wasted space. We understand that this was done so that the fascia would be symmetrical but it is a case of form over function.board - MSI R7 370 Gaming 2GAlso of interest is that this version of the Twin Frozr does not make use of a secondary heat plate underneath the heatsink. In larger models, this secondary heatsink is used to keep the memory cool. Unfortunately, by not including such a feature MSI was unable to use 7,000Mhz GDDR5 RAM ICs. Instead they had to use 5,600 GDDR5. On the positive side MSI has overclocked these RAM ICs to 5,700 and this does help boost the effective memory bandwidth. However, with a 256-bit wide memory bus this card may still be memory starved. We shall see if this is the case during overclocking section.board2 - MSI R7 370 Gaming 2GSpeaking overclocking, this video card makes use of Military Grade power delivery system that consist of 4+1 all-digital design. For this price range a 4+1 design is more than enough, especially considering these components are all extremely high grade components that are used in MSI high end motherboards. Specifically, MSI has used Super Ferite Chokes, Hi-C Cap, and Solid Caps. Interestingly enough MSI felt that the reference single 6-pin connector was enough power for this card, and while an 8-pin would have been overkill…we doubt many would have complained about it being over-designed. By the same token a 6-pin connector is capable of providing up to 75 watts and this in conjunction with 75watts via the PCIe slot itself, is more than enough power for even this overclocked card.

Because this card is based upon a GCN 1.0 GPU architecture MSI has had to include an old fashioned CrossFire connector tab. This is unfortunate as GCN 1.2 cores do not need such a connector for CrossFire but this issue is neither here nor there in the grand scheme of things. A more serious issue that all R7 370 video cards suffer – and one MSI was not able to work around, is that this card does not support FreeSync. This is a more serious issue, but with FreeSycn still unproven technology it is not a deal breaker. If you do own a FreeSync monitor you may wish to move up to a R9 380 video card.back - MSI R7 370 Gaming 2GAs this is a more value orientated card it is not surprising to see that MSI has not included a backplate. Considering this Twin Frozr V heatsink is smaller than others we have looked at in the past, this is not that large a deal either. You may feel differently, but we doubt this card will every bow or warp from the lack of a backplate!io - MSI R7 370 Gaming 2GThe ports on the rear cover the bases nicely. The bottom row you get a single mini-DisplayPort, a single full size HDMI port, and a DVI-D port; while the top row is split nearly evenly between exhaust slits and a single DVI port. Overall it is a very nice selection that should satisfy most consumer’s needs nicely.