The Lightning series is all about the overclock and that's the first thing we've got to cover. Initially I felt the clock speed of 900MHz being achieved wasn't all that fantastic. Yes, it was good, but not fantastic. As I began to think about it, though, NVIDIA has really skewed our perception on what a good overclock is because of the massive overclocking potential that their mid-range card offers.
Really, what it all comes down to is that we've got a 200MHz overclock from the stock clocks and on such a high end model that's indeed impressive. What you end up with is a really fast single card setup that manages to outperform a number of dual GPU setups. If that isn't awesome, then I don't know what is.
At $560 the GTX 480 Lightning isn't cheap in any sense of the word and for most people it's just going to be a turn off. Other people would've been waiting for the Lightning variation and the chances are you're not going to be disappointed. What's going to be interesting now is what happens with NVIDIA and this GTX 580 that's just around the corner. The big question we wonder is, while the GTX 580 will no doubt be faster than a stock GTX 480, how much more expensive will it be and when will we see stock?
For now, though, the MSI GTX 480 Lightning is really everything we would want; it would've been nice to see a higher overclock, but really, at 900MHz / 4200MHz QDR the performance is very strong and that is seen in our graphs today.
MSI as always has done a good job with the Lightning version of the card and as we mentioned, it's not going to be for everyone including the light hearted and the light walleted (is that a word?!? lol), but if you're looking for some serious power from a single video card, this is one you've got to look at.