Looking at the card, you're going to see the third installment of the Twin Frozr series cooler and it looks like a beast. The best thing about it is that MSI keep it as a dual slot card and it will be interesting to see how it performs when we get down and dirty with the card soon.
The GTX 480 Lightning needs some serious juice to get up and running. We've got two 8-Pin connectors here along with a single 6-Pin one. Running three or four of these would probably require a second power supply.
We don't see too many other surprises; we've got our two SLI connectors at the top of the card and connectivity is the same with two Dual-Link DVI connectors along with a HDMI and DisplayPort connector. Just quickly moving back to the SLI connectors for a second, though, you can see that the card sits a little taller than normal. This isn't unusual for the Lightning series and shouldn't cause a problem for most people, but it's something that has to be noted.
We mentioned on the first page about the extra cables that let you measure some of the voltage levels on the card. This is where you plug in those three cables if it's a feature that you want to make use of.
Out of the box the MSI GTX 480 Lightning is overclocked which isn't a surprise. What else isn't a surprise is the fact that the out of the box overclock isn't all that large. We've seen this since the launch of the series as MSI has placed the overclocking focus on you, the user.
Out of the box the MSI GTX 480 Lighting comes with a 750MHz core clock and 1500MHz Shader clock, which is up from the default 701MHz and 1401MHz core and Shader clock. The 1536MB of GDDR5 memory has also been bumped from 3696MHz QDR to a nice sounding 4000MHz QDR.
Because the out of the box clocks aren't the highest we've seen, what we've decided to do is just get stuck into overclocking the card. Being part of the Lightning series means we've also got more options when it comes to voltages. Instead of just the core voltage being bumped, we're able to bump that higher than others along with having the ability to move the memory and AUX voltage.
We moved our three voltages, the memory and AUX to maximum which is +100mV and +50mV and core to +131mV which is a little shy of the +200mV maximum, which we found didn't give us any more OC potential.
What we ended up with was a core clock of 900MHz; this bumped the Shader clock to 1800MHz and we managed to get the memory up another 200MHz QDR too 4200MHz QDR.