I always seem to start these reviews by stating that the series of the card we're looking at is one of my favorite. It's not just some generic introduction and I really am a large fan of series' like the IceQ from HIS, Vapor-X from Sapphire, SOC from GIGABYTE and most of all, the MSI series including the Cyclone, HAWK and Lightning which we're looking at today.
While most companies have a good stand-out series, MSI have an arsenal of them. The Cyclone is great for these lower end mid-range cards; the cooler is quiet and performs very well. You can kick it up a notch and start looking at the Twin Frozr series which tends to be reserved for the higher end cards. It's also quiet, performs well and is essentially a higher end version of the Cyclone series.
Outside of these cooler modifications, though, you've got the HAWK and Lightning series. Both are designed from the ground up to offer us the most performance possible which is then harnessed with the best overclocking software around - MSIs own Afterburner.
The HAWK series is reserved for the mid-range models and to date we've seen MSI release some of the best versions of mid-range cards with models like the HD 5770 HAWK and GTX 460 HAWK. Today, though, we're not looking at a mid-range card; instead we're looking at the AMD single GPU beast that is the HD 6970 which is getting the Lightning treatment. Let's find out exactly what happens.
The overall package design isn't all that surprising with the typical Lightning design being laid out. Inside isn't much different either, it's larger than most other bundles but it's a very typical Lightning bundle with 6-Pin to 8-Pin convertors, little voltage measuring adapters and an extra-long CrossFire cable.
What's really great to see, though, is the inclusion of a mini-DP to DP adapter. We haven't seen a lot of companies include them and it's disappointing if you're on a DP monitor. Spending over $350 US on a new card and not being able to hook up via DP is indeed a pain, but fortunately it's not something we have to worry about here today.