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.
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.
A Thing of Beauty
Tired of hearing about MSI’s latest video cards? Me neither! It seems we have been on a roll lately with the latest and greatest from MSI, but happily that will soon change. In the meantime, we do have another MSI card to go over. This one is probably the most interesting of the group so far. It also is very, very expensive for a single GPU product. This card is obviously not for everyone, but there is a market for such high end parts still.
The N580GTX Lightning Xtreme Edition is the latest entry to the high end, single GPU market. This is an area that MSI has been really leading the way in terms of features and performance. Their Lightning series, since the NVIDIA GTX 2x0 days, has been redefining that particular market with unique designs that offer tangible benefits over reference based cards. MSI initially released the N580GTX Lightning to high accolades, but with this card they have added a few significant features.
Continuing reading our review of the MSI N580GTX Lightning Xtreme Edition!!
MSI R6970 Lightning: High Speed, Low Drag
MSI has been on a tear as of late with their video card offerings. The Twin Frozr II and III series have all received positive reviews, people seem to be buying their products, and the company has taken some interesting turns in how they handle overall design and differentiation in a very crowded graphics marketplace. This did not happen overnight, and MSI has been a driving force in how the video card business has developed.
Perhaps a company’s reputation is best summed up by what the competition has to say about them. I remember well back in 1999 when Tyan was first considering going into the video card business. Apparently they were going to release a NVIDIA TnT-2 based card to the marketplace, and attempt to work their way upwards with more offerings. This particular project was nixed by management. A few years later Tyan attempted the graphics business again, but this time with some ATI Radeon 9000 series of cards. Their biggest seller was their 9200 cards, but they also offered their Tachyone 9700 Pro. In talking with Tyan about where they were, the marketing guy simply looked at me and said, “You know, if we had pursued graphics back in 1999 we might be in the same position that MSI is in now.”