The Lightning series is made for overclocking and that's the reason why we chose to test the card only overclocked in all our benchmarks here today. It helps us do two things; find an overclock that you could actually use in day to day gaming as we need to find something that's stable across more than just 3DMark 11. It also lets us show you exactly why you buy this card.
Honestly, if you bought the HD 6970 Lightning and just ran it with its out of the box settings you'd be disappointed. For starters, MSI don't overclock the memory and while the core clock is nice, it's not as strong as you're able to get it to. This card has overclockers in mind and the fact that overclocking is so easy these days means that anyone who really wants to have a play will have a good time with this card.
Of course, all overclocks are different and we've seen some that are able to run at closer to the 1050MHz mark, but it has to be noted, unlike some other people who show these higher speeds we don't just test it in 3DMark 11. We managed to achieve a core clock of 1037MHz and complete 3DMark 11 no problems, but we saw the card crash under Heaven and Lost Planet 2. We pulled the core back another 20MHz and we had everything running perfectly.
With this kind of card you'd probably find yourself sitting at something like 1000MHz on the core and 6100MHz QDR on the memory for everyday gaming. This would make it stronger than any other HD 6970 while making sure that everything was going to run perfect.
The Lightning series continues to be at the pinnacle of performance for people who want the most out of their graphics card. If you don't mind spending closer to $370 US to not only get more performance, but also an awesome cooler, then we're sure you won't be disappointed.
Not only is this just another great Lightning series card, but this is the best HD 6970 we've tested to date. MSI do a fantastic job of laying down the gauntlet and that hasn't changed here.