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.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | March 8, 2012 - 04:00 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: Z77, ssd, podcsat, podcast, msi, Intel, gpu, cpu, asus, amd, 7870, 7850
PC Perspective Podcast #192 - 03/08/2012
Join us this week as we talk about the AMD Radeon HD 7870 and 7850, Z77 Motherboard previews, and a Steam console?
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malvantano
This Podcast is brought to you by
- 0:00:42 Introduction
- 1-888-38-PCPER or firstname.lastname@example.org
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
- 0:02:00 Installing Windows 8 Consumer Preview In A VirtualBox Virtual Machine
- 0:05:00 AMD Radeon HD 7870 2GB and HD 7850 2GB Pitcairn Review
- 0:18:30 ASUS Z77 Chipset Motherboard Preview: Formula, Gene, mini-ITX
- 0:24:30 MSI X79A-GD65 (8D) LGA 2011 ATX Motherboard Review
- 0:26:00 Visual Computing Still Decades from Computational Apex
- 0:36:00 This Podcast is brought to you by
, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!
- 0:37:00 GDC 12: The bigger big picture, Steam Box to be announced?
- 0:40:30 MSI Shows of Next Generation Twin Frozr IV Cards at Cebit
- 0:42:30 Peter Pan presents a stylish mouse at CeBIT; Thermaltake's Level 10 M
- 0:45:45 Apple Launching Quad Core Graphics A5X Powered iPad 3 With Retina Display
- 0:49:00 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
- 1-888-38-PCPER or email@example.com
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
Subject: Graphics Cards | March 6, 2012 - 08:55 PM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: Twin Frozr, R7970, R7870, msi, Lightning, hd 7950, hd 7850, HD 77750, hd 7770, hawk
The Romanian site Lab 501 was able to snap some shots and get some information about the latest generation of custom built graphics products from MSI. We had actually talked to Alex Chang of MSI about what Twin Frozr IV would bring to the table, but today we actually get to see the (nearly) finished parts.
It looks as if MSI is changing around their color scheme, but the heatsink remains as big as the previous generation's. (image courtesy of Lab 501)
The products shown were of course only the AMD based parts, as the NVIDIA Kepler products are still under wraps (but apparently should see the light of day later this month). MSI is giving the full Twin Frozr IV treatment to every HD 7750 and above part. The HD 7970 is getting the Lightning edition with all the bells and whistles, while the HD 7870 is going under the Hawk brand.
We have few details about what all Twin Frozr IV includes, but it keeps the propeller blades and the anti-dust technology that we first saw in the N580GTX Lightning. From the shots we have, it does not appear that they will be using the temperature sensitive fan units that actually change color when going above 45C.
They were able to take a good shot of the board without the heatsink, and it is just as jam packed as the previous Lightning products. (image courtesy of Lab 501)
The Lightning will feature a total of 4 Display Ports and 2 DVI ports, so it can support up to 6 monitors at once. This appears similar to what Asus did with the EAH6950 and EAH6970 cards that were recently reviewed here. The Hawk will only feature 2 Display Ports, HDMI, and DVI-I. The rest of the lineup looks like reference based cards with custom Twin Frozr IV coolers.
It is good to see MSI continues with the more affordable Hawk brand. (image courtesy of Lab 501)
Of particular interest is the board design of the Lightning card. It is simply jam packed with power regulation components and the new "Twin Form-in-One" bracing system which supports both sides of the PCB with metal plates to minimize warping, improve cooling, and funnel airflow. Looking at the back of the card reveals the plate having a nice sized hole in it which would be perfect for another fan to cool all of the components on the back. More digging has informed us that it is actually a removable "GPU Reactor Core". More details should be available soon.
Introduction and Features
Courtesy of MSI
My first Sandy Bridge-E motherboard review of 2012 showcases the talents of Intel's latest i7-3820 3.6GHz quad-core processor and MSI's X79A-GD65 (8D) ATX motherboard. The enhancements included in the LGA 2011 platform combined with MSI's unique optimizations to the board's overclocking, gaming, and power management capabilities should make for an exciting testing experience.
Courtesy of MSI
MSI currently has six motherboards that support the LGA 2011 socket and the X79A-GD65 (8D) is considered one of their higher-end offerings at $289.99. This board targets users who want to take advantage of three PCI-E x16 slots for AMD CrossfireX or NVIDIA SLI configurations. It also gives users the ability to use up to two SATA 6GB/s and four SATA 3GB/s devices courtesy of the X79 chipset. MSI also used a second ASMedia controller to add two more SATA 6GB/s ports to the board. All of these SATA3 ports support Intel's Rapid Storage Technology, but the SATA3 devices managed by the X79 chipset can only handle RAID 0 and 1 versus the ASMedia chip that handles RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10.
Subject: Motherboards | March 6, 2012 - 05:30 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: msi, Ivy Bridge, Z77, z77a-gd65, lga1155
Legit Reviews have posted a full review of the Ivy Bridge based MSI Z77A-GD65, with an i7-2600K, 8GB DDR3-1600, a Corsair Force GT 240GB SSD and a Radeon HD6950. This new platform brings native USB 3.0 to Intel chipsets, but since they don't yet have an Ivy Bridge CPU to test we don't get a chance to see PCIe 3.0 in action, the new SATA 6Gbps controller fared well though. There is a new UEFI ClickBIOS implementation which some might find a compelling reason to upgrade but if you are currently running a Sandy Bridge machine you are better off to wait until you can get your hands on one of the soon to be released Ivy Bridge processors.
"It's going to be an interesting ride for the Intel Z77 chipset. It is looking like the only difference is the addition of the SuperSpeed USB 3.0. The problem with the Intel Z77 chipset is that it doesn't feature anything really worth upgrading for over the Intel Z68 system. If your looking to build a new system with either a Sandy Bridge or Ivy Bridge processor, the Intel Z77 would be the way to go. If you're on an existing 'Sandy Bridge' system, there really isn't a good reason to make the switch..."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- MSI Z77A-GD55 Motherboard Review @ HardwareHeaven
- ASUS Intel Z77 Motherboard Preview: P8Z77, Formula, Gene & Sabertooth @ Legit Reviews
- MSI Z77A-GD55 Motherboard Video Preview @Hi Tech Legion
- MSI Z77 Motherboard Preview @ eTeknix
- MSI Z77A GD65 @ Guru of 3D
- MSI Z77A-GD65 'Ivy Bridge' Motherboard Preview @ Legit Reviews
- ASUS Rampage IV Extreme Review @ OCC
- ASUS Rampage IV GENE X79 Motherboard Review @ Hi Tech Legion
- Sapphire Pure Black X79N @ Hardwareoverclock
- VGA X79 FTW X79 Motherboard Review @ eTeknix
- Gigabyte GA-X79-UD3 Socket 2011 Motherboard @ Pro-Clockers
- ASRock X79 Extreme9 Motherboard Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Intel DX79SI X79 LGA2011 @ [H]ard|OCP
Subject: General Tech | March 5, 2012 - 05:23 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: msi, hd 7850, hd 7870, Twin Frozr
(Industry, CA) Leading international mainboard and graphics card maker MSI today officially announced the launch of R7870 Twin Frozr 2GD5/OC and R7850 Twin Frozr 2GD5/OC, two new graphics cards equipped with AMD's latest 28nm HD 7800 GPU. The R7800 series features the exclusive Twin Frozr III cooling design that is equipped with MSI's Propeller Blade technology - patented in several countries – for 20% more cooling than conventional fans. Combined with MSI's SuperPipe technology and large cooling fins, the R7870 Twin Frozr 2GD5/OC core temperature is 15°C lower than reference boards and fan noise is reduced by 9dB* in full load. The R7870 Twin Frozr 2GD5/OC supports GPU voltage adjustment technology to boost overclocking potential by up to 20%** when used with MSI's exclusive Afterburner overclocking utility. Gamers can now unleash the full potential of their graphics card for gaming and multimedia applications.
Advanced Twin Frozr III Design Runs 15˚C Cooler and 9dB Quieter than Reference Boards
The MSI R7870/R7850 Twin Frozr 2GD5/OC features the Twin Frozr III cooling module that has won popular acclaim from media around the world. The proprietary Propeller Blade technology has been patented in multiple countries and features special airflow channels on the edge of the fan blades to increase airflow by 20% compared to conventional designs and reduce noise as well! Under full load, the GPU core of the R7870 Twin Frozr 2GD5/OC graphics card is 15˚C lower than the reference design and operating noise is reduced by 9dB to less than 30dB. This combination of outright performance and ultra-quiet operation is proof that MSI products can provide gaming enthusiasts with the coolest and quietest user experience!
MSI's Exclusive Afterburner Core Voltage Adjustment Technology
The R7870 Twin Frozr 2GD5/OC graphics card supports GPU core voltage adjustment technology that can be used with the popular Afterburner overclocking utility to boost overclocking potential by 20%. The ability to push the graphics card to its limits reinforces MSI's excellence in software and hardware customization, making MSI the first choice of overclocking enthusiasts. In addition to overclocking, Afterburner also supports advanced fan speed control, custom overclocking settings, Predator audio/video capture and Kombustor burn-in testing. Most exciting of all is that gamers can download the Afterburner APP for Android or iOS operating systems to perform overclocking, remote monitoring and fan speed control in real-time from their handheld devices.
PCI Express Gen 3 Graphics Card with 28nm GPU
The MSI R7800 family is equipped with AMD's latest 28nm GPU that offers greater performance and processing power than the previous generation, while reducing power consumption. The MSI R7800 series graphics cards support thePCI Express Gen 3 standard, which when combined with a compatible CPU and mainboard, double bandwidth to a staggering 32GB/s for delivering the ultimate in gaming performance.
Supports Next Generation AV Ports and AMD Eyefinity Multi-Display Technology
MSI R7800 graphics cards provide DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 1.4a outputs that support 3D video, 7.1 channel lossless TrueHD video and DTS-HD audio, as well as supporting AMD's proprietary Eyefinity multiple display technology. The support for next-generation audio-video standards makes the MSI R7800 family the best choice for professionals and gamers.
Subject: Motherboards, Processors, Chipsets | February 29, 2012 - 12:03 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: just delivered, z77a-gd65, Z77, sandy bridge, msi, Ivy Bridge, Intel
In preparation for Intel's 3rd generation of Intel Core microprocessor architecture (can you see we are dancing around things already), MSI has started showing a new line of motherboards. While at CES in January we saw the Z77A-GD65 option that will be available soon and offers some interesting new specs and features.
The Z77A-GD65 sports Military Class III components as well as support for a host of new items including PCI Express 3.0 and USB 3.0. While we can't share much more than that in terms of details I thought it might be worth showing off a few shots of the upcoming motherboard from our friends at MSI.
Subject: Motherboards | February 28, 2012 - 02:55 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: MSI X79A-GD65 (8D), msi, lga2011
The MSI Z79A-GD65 (8D) provoked an immediately negative reaction from [H]ard|OCP as two of the first things they noticed were the inconvenient placing of the CMOS battery and the auxiliary power plug for the PCIe slots. If you are planning on a triple GPU system you are not going to like this board. However if you plan on only a single or dual GPU system then these points of contention may not apply to you and other features, such as the impressive overclocking potential, make this board a solid choice. It seems that it could use a BIOS update though, not only because of strange voltage readings but also because of the clunky implementation of the UEFI aka Click-BIOS.
"MSI is known for high quality motherboards, many of which are targeted toward the enthusiast and gamer. It is one of these products we are looking at today in the form of the MSI X79A-GD65 (8D). A mid-range offering in the LGA2011 motherboard market. Sandy Bridge E processor and 8 DIMM slots for your exploitation!"
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- ASRock X79 Fatal1ty Professional Motherboard @ Hardware Secrets
- MSI Big Bang-XPower II X79 Review – A World of Novelty Heatsinks @ AnandTech
- BIOSTAR TPower X79 Motherboard Review @ Legit Reviews
- ASUS X79 Sabretooth Motherboard Review @ Madshrimps
- ASRock Fatal1ty Z68 Professional Gen3 Motherboard Review @ Madshrimps
- Gigabyte Z68X UD3H Motherboard Review @ Ninjalane
- ASUS Rampage IV Formula BF3 Edition @ Hardwareoverclock
- BIOS Option Of The Week - DCLK Feedback Delay @ TechARP
- Roundup: Mini-ITX Mainboards for Socket FM1 Processors @ X-bit Labs
MSI's Alex Chang Speaks Up
MSI was founded in 1986 and started producing motherboards and video cards for the quickly growing PC market. Throughout the life of the company they have further diversified their offerings to include barebones systems, notebooks, networking/communication devices, and industrial products. While MSI has a nice base of products, they are still primarily a motherboard and video card company. In the past 10 years MSI has become one of the top brands in North America for video cards, and they have taken a very aggressive approach to design with these products.
I had the chance to send MSI quite a few questions concerning their video card business and how they develop their products.
What is your name, title, and how long have you worked at MSI?
My name is Bob, and I’m…. actually, I’m just Alex Chang. I’m the Associate Marketing Manager. I’ve been with the company for 2 years.
Typically how long does it take from the original reference design card release to when we can first expect to see a Twin Frozr III based card hit retail? How much longer does it take to create the “Lightning” based products?
Historically, we’ve seen the introduction of a non-reference thermal solution within 2-4 weeks of product launch. As an example, GTX580 was launched in November 2010, and by December there was already a reference PCB GTX580 w/ the Twin Frozr II cooler.
In the case of Lightning cards, the development timeframe is longer due to more R&D, validation, and procurement of components. With GTX580, the timeframe was around 6 months, but moving forward MSI is pulling in the launch timeframe of our flagship products.
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