How fast can Lightning go? Testing out the LN2 BIOS on the MSI GTX680

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 3, 2012 - 05:42 PM |
Tagged: MSI GTX680 Lightning, LN2 BIOS, factory overclocked, gtx 680, MSI Afterburner, overvolting

[H]ard|OCP recently tested the highly overclocked MSI GTX 680 Lightning, but because of the new release of the MSI Afterburner 2.2.3 tool they decided to retest to see if the new Afterburner will raise the ceiling on their maximum overclock.  This new version allows voltage control of the GPU, the memory, and the PLL which ought to help push the card to higher frequencies.  That did certainly turn out to be the case as they saw noticeable increases to all of the clocks on the card and more importantly translated into improvements in game play.  When they used the LN2 BIOS the improvements were even more impressive.  Remember that volt modding will shorten the lifespan of the card, but what a life it will have while it survives.

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"Today we are revisiting the MSI GeForce GTX 680 Lightning video card. with its long-promised GPU and RAM voltage tweaking Afterburner software. We test both the stock BIOS and "LN2 BIOS" to find the best possible gaming experience the Lightning has to offer, and determine if the performance justifies the price."

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Will it Strike Again?

 It can now be claimed that we are arguably in our 4th generation of Lightning products from MSI. It can also be claimed that the 3rd generation of products really put that brand on the mainstream map. The R6970 and N580GTX (and XE version) set new standards for enthusiast grade graphics cards. Outstanding construction, unique pcb design, high quality (and quantity) of components, and a good eye for overall price have all been hallmarks of these cards. These were honestly some of my favorite video cards of all time. Call me biased, but I think when looking through other reviews those writers felt much the same. MSI certainly hit a couple of homeruns with their three Lightning offerings of 2011.

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Time does not stand still.  Resting on laurels is always the surest way to lose out to more aggressive competitors.  It is now 2012 and AMD has already launched the latest generation of HD 7000 chips, with the top end being the HD 7970.  This particular product was launched in late December, but cards were not available until January 9th of 2012.  We are now at the end of March where we see a decent volume of products on the shelves, as well as some of the first of the non-reference designs hitting the streets.  Currently Asus has its DirectCU II based 7970, but now we finally get to see the Lightning treatment.

 MSI has not sat upon their laurels it seems.  They are taking an aggressive approach to the new Lightning series of cards, and they implement quite a few unique features that have not been seen on any other product before.  Now the question is did they pull it off?  Throwing more features at something does not necessarily equal success.  The increase in complexity of a design combined with other unknowns with the new features could make it a failure.  Just look at the R5870 Lightning for proof.  That particular card tread new ground, but did so in a way that did not adequately differentiate itself from reference HD 5870 designs.  So what is new and how does it run?  Let us dig in!

Continue reading our review of the MSI Radeon HD 7970 3GB Lightning Graphics Card!!