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MSI Radeon HD 7970 Lightning 3GB Video Card Overclocked Review (Page 2)

By Shawn Baker on Mar 29, 2012 10:16 am CDT
Rating: 96%Manufacturer: MSI

The Card


Moving onto the card itself we've got that typical oversized cooler that is present to the generally typical oversized PCB that is used. We've got a yellow and black color scheme going on and you can see we've got two massive fans sitting above the heatsink here. Of course for the cooler we've got the massive TwinFrozr IV unit installed which just looks like an absolute beast.


Moving around the card we start off towards the back where we've got a dual 8-pin PCI Express power setup which differs slightly to the typical 6-pin and 8-pin PCI Express power setup that we normally see on a reference Radeon HD 7970. This is always one of the first things we spot when it comes to the MSI Lightning cards. This card also obviously focuses very heavily on high quality power with Military Class III playing a big rule with its features such as CopperMOS, Hi-C capacitors, golden solid state chokes and dark solid capacitors.


As we stay across the top of the card but move towards the middle of the card you can see our voltage check points. These are used in conjunction with the provided cables to track the voltage of certain areas on the card. Outside of LN2 overclockers, you're probably not going to have much use for these. Of course, the most hardcore users appreciate them in a big way.


Edging closer to the front we've got two CrossFire connectors which give us the ability to install up to four of these cards in CrossFireX. Also present, although hard to see, is the typical dual BIOS switch that we're used to seeing. If you switch over to the other BIOS you've got one that will accommodate those LN2 overclockers again.


While we tend to not look at the back we can see this sweet little cover that MSI has installed along with the awesome looking backplate. Under the little cover, though, is another PCB called the "GPU Reactor". This is designed to provide higher power levels to the GPU and offer fewer ripples which in turn make for more stable power which in turn then allows for hopefully a higher overclock.


Finally we finish up with the I/O side of things and the first thing we notice is the four Mini DisplayPort connectors on the left hand side of the card. As someone who uses three Dell U2711 monitors all via DP, I love this kind of configuration. It means that all my Dell monitors can run via DisplayPort instead of having two run by DisplayPort and the other by DVI.

On the topic of DVI, we've got two DVI connectors. Something worth noting, though, is that the four MiniDP connectors mean that the DVI connectors are Single-Link only. That means if you have a Dual-Link DVI monitor that only offers Dual-Link DVI, you're going to need an Active DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI connector. This is something worth remembering.


As always the Lightning card from MSI comes overclocked out of the box. They've pushed the default core clock of 925MHz to a real strong 1070MHz while the 3GB of GDDR has gone from 5500MHz QDR to 5600MHz QDR. While there's not much change on the memory front, there's a nice jump when it comes to the core.

You don't buy a Lightning card to run it at its out of the box clocks, though. You can, but the best thing about the Lightning series it there ability to overclock and as we do with any Lightning video card, overclocking is exactly what we're going to do.


With the help of MSI Afterburner you can see we managed to push our core up to 1225MHz which is a massive 300MHz from the reference clock. As for the memory, that's also had a really nice performance increase as it gets pushed to a really strong 6300MHz QDR. As always, this is a really nice overclock and should yield some really strong performance.

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Shawn Baker


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.

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