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.
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!
Subject: Graphics Cards | March 16, 2012 - 02:29 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: MSI R7970 Lightning, msi, factory overclocked
MSI is taking full advantage of AMD's permission to wander away from the reference design with their brand new 7970 Lightning Edition. Instead of putting a stable overclock on it and selling it at a mark up, they've completely redesigned the power architecture as well as replacing the cooler with one that is quieter and more effective. From the proprietary "GPU Reactor" which increases the amount of current available for your GPU to a significantly higher maximum setting on Power Tune, this card is for the serious overclocker who is experienced with over-volting.
Leading international graphics card and mainboard maker MSI today announced the release of the MSI R7970 Lightning, the new heir to the throne of Lightning graphics cards. Equipped with AMD's 28 nm Radeon HD 7970 GPU, the MSI R7970 Lightning features an all-new Unlocked Digital Power Architecture that incorporates an Unlocked BIOS, Digital PWM Controller, and Enhanced Power Design to boost overclocking potential to new heights and make overclocking easier than ever. In an industry first, the proprietary "GPU Reactor" power supply module reduces power supply noise and also boosts overclocking stability as well. To keep this beast cool, the MSI R7970 Lightning utilizes the latest Twin Frozr IV Thermal Design equipped with Dust Removal Technology. The dual 10 cm fans with Propeller Blade Technology generate massive airflow for fast heat dissipation while remaining whisper silent. The two form-in-one heat sinks improve cooling for memory and the power supply module as well ensure structural integrity. The R7970 Lightning uses Military Class III components which have passed rigorous third-party testing to meet MIL-STD-810G standards, guaranteeing the card's stability and reliability under actual use conditions. Moreover, the "3X3 OC Kits" are designed to simplify overclocking, which makes it easier than ever for enthusiasts to fine-tune the performance of their graphics cards. For both professional users and gaming enthusiasts alike, the R7970 Lightning's ability to simultaneously run 6 displays makes it the natural choice!
Unlocked Digital Power Provides Record-Breaking Potential
The R7970 Lightning boasts an all-new Unlocked Digital Power architecture that provides record breaking potential. The key components involved include the Unlocked BIOS, digital PWM chipset, and an improved power supply design. Unlocked BIOS removes CCC overclocking limits, Power Tune limit is increased by 180%, and OCP limits are relaxed to completely unleash the graphics card's overclocking potential. The digital power supply signal provides voltage signals that are more stable and accurate than conventional analog designs, meaning the voltage can be adjusted more quickly and precisely during overclocking. The improved power supply design provides double the power of the reference board and consists of 17 power supply parameters, dual 8-pin power supply connectors, and the Lightning Power Layer (LPL) design. For true overclocking enthusiasts, the R7970 Lightning with Unlocked Digital Power is simply a dream come true!
GPU Reactor for the Ultimate Power Core
The MSI R7970 Lightning implements the innovative "GPU Reactor" power supply module which, when installed on the back of the GPU, increases current volume by 88%, reduces power supply noise by 13%, and improves overall overclocking stability. MSI GPU Reactor is easy to install and has built in safety features that make it easy even for ordinary users to install and remove.
Extreme Cooling Design for Better Cooling and Structural Strength
The MSI R7970 Lightning incorporates the next-generation Twin Frozr IV Thermal Design. The striking design of the new Twin Frozr IV comes from the two large 10cm PWM fans with Propeller Blade Technology that cool the advanced cooling body of the Twin Frozr IV. Under the aluminum Twin Frozr IV body, you can find a high density fin grid array that provides heat dissipating area that is fed by heat-pipes featuring MSI's SuperPipe technology. MSI has also incorporated its exclusive Dust Removal Technology. Fans are running in reverse for 30 seconds after booting to remove dust from the heat sinks and keep the graphics card's cooling performance running at optimum levels. The R7970 Lightning also boasts two form-in-one heat sinks. One heat sink is located on the front of the graphics card to cool the memory and power supply modules, while the second heat sink on the back of the card helps to protect and reinforce the card structure. This extreme cooling design provides the R7970 Lightning with the best cooling performance and the most reliable structure.
Premium Materials and User-friendly Overclocking Design
MSI has always led the industry thanks to its unyielding commitment to product stability and quality and made sure that the R7970 Lightning was equipped with Military Class III components certified to MIL-STD-810G military standards in seven different categories by a third-party laboratory. Be it tantalum core Hi-c CAP around the graphics card, the CopperMOS cooling design, the form-in-one Golden SSC, or as the card's moisture/rust-proof Dark Solid CAP, all work together to provide the MSI R7970 Lightning with the best possible stability.
For overclocking enthusiasts, MSI has developed the 3X3 OC Kits: V-Check Points enable GPU, Memory and VDDCI voltage to be monitored while Triple Overvoltage and Triple Temperature Sensor enable overclockers to quickly fine-tune and track the performance of their graphics card using enthusiasts favorite Afterburner overclocking software. The 4 Mini DisplayPorts and 2 DVI ports on the R7970 Lightning enable AMD Eyefinity technology to drive 6 screen output with just one card, providing just the kind of performance industry professionals and gaming enthusiasts need.