Epic Thanksgiving Giveaway: MSI GeForce RTX 3080 GAMING X TRIO!
TRENDING NOW: Here's our Top 10 best handpicked Amazon Black Friday tech deals!

MSI GeForce N275GTX Lightning Video Card

We saw MSI put the Lightning spin on the GTX 260 not that long ago. Today the GTX 275 gets the same treatment. Let's see if it can impress.

@ShawnBakerTW
Published Fri, Oct 9 2009 12:25 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:03 PM CST
Rating: 91%Manufacturer: MSI

Introduction




MSI GeForce N275GTX Lightning Video Card 29 | TweakTown.com
VIEW GALLERY - 38 IMAGES


When we looked at the GTX 260 Lightning from MSI recently it was really a bit of a mixed bag. On the performance side of things we really liked the card; the aftermarket cooling option that MSI opted for was also really good. On the other side we thought the AirForce Panel proved to be more of a pain than anything else and what we didn't like was that in order to achieve the highest speed MSI advertised you needed to install their own OC software.

Really, at the end of it all, though, the GTX 260 we saw from MSI offered some serious performance and for the most part that's the most important feature for so many users. While that model was part of the Lightning series, it was a special Black Edition as well. Today we're going to be looking at the GTX 275 that sits in the same series, but isn't part of the Black Edition line up.

The GTX 275 Lightning actually sparked my interests a bit as it was the card of choice at the MOC overclocking champions that MSI held earlier this year. What we want out of the model is easy, we want to see the same high performance that the GTX 260 offered and the great cooling the model had as well. What we also want, however, is not have to install any software to get the promised clocks and we really don't want any fancy AirForce Panel either as it's just not necessary.

Is the GTX 275 Lightning from MSI able to offer us what we want? We'll, there's only one way to find out. Let's get stuck into the package before checking out the card itself and the performance it has to offer.

The Package




Looking at the front of the box we can see an almost identical design to what the GTX 260 lightning offered. We can see across the top the MSI logo and NVIDIA one. Below that we have a picture of a plane with a bunch of lightning behind it.

MSI GeForce N275GTX Lightning Video Card 30 | TweakTown.com


Below the picture we have a little graph that gives us an idea of the performance the model can offer. Moving down, we have the model and below that we have some of the main features like the amount of memory and the mention that this is also one of the company's Military Class products.

MSI GeForce N275GTX Lightning Video Card 31 | TweakTown.com


Looking at the back of the box, we have a fair bit of information regarding the features the card offers. Starting from the top we've got some information on the cooler and below that we see what exactly Military Class means. Running down the right side of the box we have some of the main features that are offered with the specifications in the bottom left corner.

MSI GeForce N275GTX Lightning Video Card 32 | TweakTown.com


Inside the package we're fully loaded with information. We've got a booklet on the Lightning Series along with the quick user guide and standard manual. In the CD department we've got a driver CD along with another CD which includes MSIs Lightning Afterburner overclocking utility.

MSI GeForce N275GTX Lightning Video Card 33 | TweakTown.com


In the cable department we've got a DVI to HDMI and DVI to VGA connector, dual molex to PCI-E 6-Pin convertor along with a HDMI cable. It's nice to see the HDMI cable included; while you might not need it for your monitor they're handy to have around the house as I find myself snagging them to install home theater equipment that doesn't come with a HDMI cable, but offers the connectivity.

Video Card




Like the GTX 260 Lightning card the GTX 275 uses an aftermarket cooling option that differs from the stock design. The cooler is different to the GTX 260 one that we saw. This particular one is the Twin Frozr II and while covering up most of the card, we do get to see a fair bit of the cooler itself.

MSI GeForce N275GTX Lightning Video Card 34 | TweakTown.com


We've got a two-fan design which sits on top of a giant heatsink that carries with it a huge amount of fins along with five heat pipes to help move that heat away from the cooler. We can see that MSI has got a bit of a shroud happening. We can see in the middle we've got the MSI logo while to the right we have the Twin Frozr II one.

MSI GeForce N275GTX Lightning Video Card 35 | TweakTown.com


MSI GeForce N275GTX Lightning Video Card 36 | TweakTown.com


Power is coming to the card via two 6-Pin PCI Express power connectors. Closer to the front we have our two SLI connectors and unlike the HD 4890 Cyclone we looked at the other day the cooler doesn't interrupt the connectors here.

MSI GeForce N275GTX Lightning Video Card 37 | TweakTown.com


MSI has also chosen to mix it up a bit in the I/O department. Across the top we have our vents with the MSI logo. Below that starting from the right we have a VGA port, Dual-Link DVI connector along with a native HDMI connector.


Specifications

One of the more important aspects to the whole Lightning series is the cards overclock settings. Unlike the GTX 260 we looked at, the clocks that MSI advertise are that out of the box without any software having to be installed to achieve those clocks, which was one of our gripes with the GTX 260 version of the card which required MSI's own software in order to switch to the advertised clock speeds.

MSI GeForce N275GTX Lightning Video Card 28 | TweakTown.com


Looking above, we can see the core has moved to 700MHz. This is up from the stock 633MHz, while the shader clocks stay at 1404MHz. As for the 1792MB of GDDR3 which is twice the amount of a standard GTX 275, we see it coming in at 2300MHz which again is up from a stock clock of 2268MHz DDR.

Test System Setup and 3DMark Vantage


Test System Setup

Processor(s): Intel Core i7 920 @ 3.8GHz (190MHz x 20)
Cooling: Noctua NH-U12P (Supplied by Noctua)
Motherboard(s): GIGABYTE EX58-UD5 (Supplied by GIGABYTE)
Memory: 3 X 2GB OCZ Technology PC-12800 DDR-3 8-8-8-24 (OCZ3G1600LV6GK)
Hard Disk(s): Western Digital 300GB Velicorapter (Supplied by Western Digital)
Operating System: Windows XP Professional SP2 and Windows Vista SP1 64-bit
Drivers: Forceware 190.38, Catalyst 9.8


Today we'll have a look at how the MSI N275 GTX Lightning handles itself against the Palit GTX 275, the ASUS GTX 285 Matrix and the MSI HD 4890 Cyclone.

Let's get started!


3DMark Vantage

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmarkvantage/
Buy It Here




3DMark Vantage is the new industry standard PC gaming performance benchmark from Futuremark, newly designed for Windows Vista and DirectX10. It includes two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, and support for the latest hardware.

3DMark Vantage is based on a completely new rendering engine, developed specifically to take full advantage of DirectX10, the new graphics API from Microsoft.

MSI GeForce N275GTX Lightning Video Card 01 | TweakTown.com


Under Vantage we can see a nice boost in performance when compared to the Palit version of the card.

Benchmarks - PT Boats: Knights of the Sea


PT Boats: Knights of the Sea

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Developer Homepage: http://en.akella.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.pt-boats.net/





PT Boats: Knights of the Sea is a naval action simulator that places gamers in charge of a mosquito fleet of the Allied Forces, Russia or Germany during the height of World War II.

Using the latest Direct X 10 technology PT Boards - Knights of the Sea manages to apply a lot of stress to the components of today which in turn gives us quite an intensive benchmark.

MSI GeForce N275GTX Lightning Video Card 02 | TweakTown.com


MSI GeForce N275GTX Lightning Video Card 03 | TweakTown.com


Looking at PT Boats we again see a nice little bump in performance when compared to the other GTX 275 we have here.

Benchmarks - CINEBENCH R10


CINEBENCH R10

Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10
Developer Homepage: http://www.maxon.net/
Product Homepage: http://www.maxon.net




CINEBENCH is a real-world test suite that assesses your computer's performace capabilities. MAXON CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software, CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.

MAXON CINEBENCH runs several tests on your computer to measure the performance of the main processor and the Video Card under real world circumstances. The benchmark application makes use of up to 16 CPUs or CPU cores and is available for Windows (32-bit and 64-Bit) and Macintosh (PPC and Intel-based).

MSI GeForce N275GTX Lightning Video Card 04 | TweakTown.com


As usual CINEBENCH performance comes in behind the ATI offerings, but falls in line with the other NVIDIA offerings.

Benchmarks - World in Conflict


World in Conflict

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.5
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.massive.se
Product Homepage: http://www.worldinconflict.com





World in Conflict is a real-time strategy video game by Massive Entertainment and to be published by Sierra Entertainment for Windows (DX9 and DX10).

The game is set in 1989 where economic troubles cripple the Soviet Union and threaten to dissolve it. However, the title pursues a "what if" scenario where, in this case, the Soviet Union does not collapse and instead pursues a course of war to remain in power. It is an intensive new game is sure to put plenty of stress on even the latest Video Cards and we use the built-in benchmarking for our testing.

MSI GeForce N275GTX Lightning Video Card 05 | TweakTown.com


MSI GeForce N275GTX Lightning Video Card 06 | TweakTown.com


World in Conflict performance is good and we can see that the MSI GTX 275 is actually able to outperform the GTX 285 in this situation.

Benchmarks - Crysis Warhead


Crysis Warhead

Version and / or Patch Used: Unpatched
Timedemo or Level Used: Airfield
Developer Homepage: http://www.crytek.com
Product Homepage: http://crysiswarhead.ea.com/
Buy It Here




Crysis Warhead updates and refines the gameplay of the original game through a sidestory plot involving Psycho, one of previous protagonist Nomad's allies. The game is a parallel story that follows Sergeant Michael "Psycho" Sykes, a character from the original Crysis, as he faces his own trials and challenges on the other side of the island during the time period of the first game.

It also showcases a new, enhanced and optimized version of CryEngine 2 using full DX10 extensions and is the first game developed by Crytek's Budapest studio.

MSI GeForce N275GTX Lightning Video Card 07 | TweakTown.com


MSI GeForce N275GTX Lightning Video Card 08 | TweakTown.com


Compared to the Palit GTX 275 we see a nice boost in performance, especially at the lower resolution. We can see here it's also able to outperform the GTX 285 at some points.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2


Far Cry 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01
Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long
Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.farcry2.com/
Buy It Here




The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.

MSI GeForce N275GTX Lightning Video Card 09 | TweakTown.com


MSI GeForce N275GTX Lightning Video Card 10 | TweakTown.com


Far Cry 2 performance compared to the Palit GTX 275 is up. At 2560 x 1600 we're .22 FPS behind that 30 FPS minimum we need to see. A small adjustment in the detail settings would get us there without any drama.

Benchmarks - S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Clear Sky


S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Clear Sky

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.5.07
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
Developer Homepage: http://www.gsc-game.com/
Product Homepage: http://cs.stalker-game.com/en/
Buy It Here




S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky, is the stand-alone prequel for S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, a first-person shooter computer game by Ukrainian developer GSC Game World.[3] The game consists of a roughly 50/50 mix of new areas and old, remodeled areas from the previous game. The X-ray graphics engine has been updated to version 1.5 and includes DirectX 10 support (later patch 1.5.06 included DirectX 10.1). Additionally, the AI received an overhaul to accommodate the new faction wars feature.

MSI GeForce N275GTX Lightning Video Card 11 | TweakTown.com


MSI GeForce N275GTX Lightning Video Card 12 | TweakTown.com


While falling a fair bit behind the ATI offering, we can see performance between the two GTX 275s are very similar.

Benchmarks - Left 4 Dead


Left 4 Dead

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
Developer Homepage: http://www.valvesoftware.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.l4d.com/
Buy It Here




Left 4 Dead uses the latest version of Valve's Source engine, with improvements such as multi-core processor support and physics-based animation to more realistically portray hair and clothing, and to improve physics interaction with enemies when shot or shoved in different body parts. Animation was also improved to allow characters to lean realistically when moving in curved paths.

Rendering and artificial intelligence were scaled up to allow for greater number of enemies who can navigate the world in better ways, such as climbing, jumping or breaking obstacles. Lighting has been enhanced with new self-shadowing normal mapping and advanced shadow rendering that is important to convey information about the environment and player actions.

MSI GeForce N275GTX Lightning Video Card 13 | TweakTown.com


We continue to see a bump in performance for the MSI GTX 275 Lightning, but it still sits a little behind the GTX 285.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF


High Quality AA and AF

Our high quality tests let us separate the men from the boys and the ladies from the girls. If the cards weren't struggling before they will start to now.


Far Cry 2

MSI GeForce N275GTX Lightning Video Card 14 | TweakTown.com


MSI GeForce N275GTX Lightning Video Card 15 | TweakTown.com


We see a small bump in performance with the MSI GTX 275 Lightning, but nothing too exciting.


World In Conflict

MSI GeForce N275GTX Lightning Video Card 16 | TweakTown.com


MSI GeForce N275GTX Lightning Video Card 17 | TweakTown.com


WIC on the other hand manages to see a good boost and not only does it break that 30 FPS minimum we want to see, it also manages to outperform the GTX 285 in this instance.


Left 4 Dead

MSI GeForce N275GTX Lightning Video Card 18 | TweakTown.com


Leaving our HQ tests, we see a nice bump in performance that puts us just a few FPS behind the GTX 285 Matrix.

Benchmarks - World in Conflict - XP


World in Conflict

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.5
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.massive.se
Product Homepage: http://www.worldinconflict.com




World in Conflict is a real-time strategy video game by Massive Entertainment and to be published by Sierra Entertainment for Windows (DX9 and DX10) and the Xbox 360.

The game is set in 1989 where economic troubles cripple the Soviet Union and threaten to dissolve it. However, the title pursues a "what if" scenario where, in this case, the Soviet Union does not collapse and instead pursues a course of war to remain in power. It is an intensive new game is sure to put plenty of stress on even the latest Video Cards and we use the built-in benchmarking for our testing.

MSI GeForce N275GTX Lightning Video Card 19 | TweakTown.com


MSI GeForce N275GTX Lightning Video Card 20 | TweakTown.com


WIC under XP is like Vista; we see a good boost here. At the lower resolutions it's able to pull out a win against the GTX 285.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2 - XP


Far Cry 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01
Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long
Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.farcry2.com/
Buy It Here




The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.

MSI GeForce N275GTX Lightning Video Card 21 | TweakTown.com


MSI GeForce N275GTX Lightning Video Card 22 | TweakTown.com


The boost we see from the GTX 275 Lightning here when compared to the Palit version of the card is enough to give us that important 30 FPS minimum at 2560 x 1600, which is fantastic.

Benchmarks - S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Clear Sky - XP


S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Clear Sky

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.5.07
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
Developer Homepage: http://www.gsc-game.com/
Product Homepage: http://cs.stalker-game.com/en/
Buy It Here




S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky, is the stand-alone prequel for S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, a first-person shooter computer game by Ukrainian developer GSC Game World.[3] The game consists of a roughly 50/50 mix of new areas and old, remodeled areas from the previous game. The X-ray graphics engine has been updated to version 1.5 and includes DirectX 10 support (later patch 1.5.06 included DirectX 10.1). Additionally, the AI received an overhaul to accommodate the new faction wars feature.

MSI GeForce N275GTX Lightning Video Card 23 | TweakTown.com


MSI GeForce N275GTX Lightning Video Card 24 | TweakTown.com


Performance is a bit all over the place here. The ATI offering manages to do a good job here, pulling out a win in one of its favorite games.

Temperature and Sound Tests


Temperature Tests



With the TES 1326 Infrared Thermometer literally in hand we found ourselves getting real-world temperatures from the products we test at load (3D clock speeds).

There are two places we pull temperature from - the back of the card directly behind the core and if the card is dual slot and has an exhaust point we also pull a temperate from there, as seen in the picture.

MSI GeForce N275GTX Lightning Video Card 25 | TweakTown.com


As far as temperatures go, we're slightly on the warmer side when compared to the other GTX 200 cards. We're running a bit cooler then the HD 4890, though.


Sound Tests



Pulling out the TES 1350A Sound Level Meter we find ourselves quickly yelling into the top of it to see how loud we can be.

After five minutes of that we get a bit more serious and place the device two CM away from the fan on the card to find the maximum noise level of the card when idle (2D mode) and in load (3D mode).

MSI GeForce N275GTX Lightning Video Card 26 | TweakTown.com


Noise on the other hand is way down; it's a lot quieter than the other cards we have here, especially when compared to the other GTX 200 cards.

Power Consumption Tests






Using our new PROVA Power Analyzer WM-01 or "Power Thingy" as it has become quickly known as to our readers, we are now able to find out what kind of power is being used by our test system and the associated Video Cards installed. Keep in mind; it tests the complete system (minus LCD monitor, which is plugged directly into AC wall socket).

There are a few important notes to remember though; while our maximum power is taken in 3DMark06 at the same exact point, we have seen in particular tests the power being drawn as much as 10% more. We test at the exact same stage every time; therefore tests should be very consistent and accurate.

The other thing to remember is that our test system is bare minimum - only a 7,200RPM SATA-II single hard drive is used without CD ROM or many cooling fans.

So while the system might draw 400 watts in our test system, placing it into your own PC with a number of other items, the draw is going to be higher.

MSI GeForce N275GTX Lightning Video Card 27 | TweakTown.com


Compared to the Palit GTX 275 power draw at load is slightly up. As for the draw against the other two cards, it's down.

Final Thoughts




We're a fan of the Lightning series and this version of the card really gets rid of the issues we had with the first one where the advertised clocks could only be achieved with the MSI software being installed. There's also no AirForce Panel with this one which is good for two reasons; the device on a whole is a bit of a pain and secondly it helps keep the price down, a definite plus.

Performance on a whole is pretty good; we saw a consistent boost over the GTX 275 and with the Lightning Afterburner application included in the bundle you can do a bit more overclocking yourself if you feel like getting even more performance out of the card.

We have to admit, though, when it came to the temperature we became a bit worried that the fancy aftermarket cooler was doing nothing but looking good. But once you have a look at the next graph and see the noise levels the cooler puts out you can't help but be impressed with the cooler on a whole.

If you're looking for a GTX 275 that packs a bit more power, carries with it one of the quietest active cooling solutions on the market and some overclocking software to boot, this GTX 275 is actually pretty good.

The Lightning series looks like it's going to become something special. We're not sure if companies are mixing it up a bit in preparation for the new GT 300 models or simply because they're bored, but we always like to see this happen with models that have been around for a while as a freshening up.

What do TweakTown.com awards mean? Click for details!

PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.

USUnited States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com

UKUnited Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.co.uk

AUAustralia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com.au

CACanada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.ca

DEDeutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de

Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

Newsletter Subscription

Similar Content

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

Related Tags

Newsletter Subscription
Latest News
View More News
Latest Reviews
View More Reviews
Latest Articles
View More Articles