I have been waiting oh-so-long for MSI to unveil its GeForce GTX 1080 Ti LIGHTNING Z graphics card, so much so that the first vendor I ran to at Computex 2017 earlier this year was MSI to see if they had the GTX 1080 Ti LIGHTNING Z on display. They did, and I was the first to snap photos of it and display it to the world. I was like a kid on Christmas morning, and then the card itself turned up, and I crumbled into a technologically obsessed heap.
MSI has always pushed the boundaries of what's possible on graphics cards with their LIGHTNING series, but the last time we saw a LIGHTNING card was the older MSI GeForce GTX 980 Ti LIGHTNING. This was all the way back in August 2015, so fast forward nearly two years and we have the GTX 1080 Ti LIGHTNING Z. Has MSI learned anything between now and then? You can bet they have. NVIDIA has also provided some slick tweaks with the Pascal GPU architecture, with the GTX 1080 Ti being the best graphics card you can buy today - without blowing out the price/performance balance with the new TITAN Xp.
We've seen a few crazy high-end GTX 1080 Ti graphics cards so far, with MSI's own GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Gaming X 11G, ZOTAC's GeForce GTX 1080 Ti AMP! Extreme Edition, the ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 Ti STRIX OC, and I still have a backlog of other cards to review with the EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti FTW3 iCX, Palit GeForce GTX 1080 Ti GameRock Premium Edition, and the newly arrived GALAX GeForce GTX 1080 Ti HOF. Out of them all, the MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Ti LIGHTNING Z is the cherry on top of all of this GP102 goodness flowing through the GPU labs.
MSI has effectively thrown everything but the kitchen sink into their new GeForce GTX 1080 Ti LIGHTNING Z, with amazing performance and one of the best uses of RGB LED lighting I've seen on a graphics card so far. It's not over the top and compliments the design of the card instead of taking over and attacking your eyeballs.
Pricing & Availability
NVIDIA has its own GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition priced at $699, so the news that MSI is selling their new GeForce GTX 1080 Ti LIGHTNING Z at just $749 feels like a steal. You're getting a far superior card that runs dead silent for the most part, overclocks like a champion (and if you have LN2, even more so), and looks much better.
I have one of the earliest samples of the GTX 1080 Ti LIGHTNING Z, so I can't quite confirm the availability of it in the US just yet - and will update this once I've heard back from MSI. I do know that MSI only made 3000 units, so they are an extremely limited run. If you buy one, cherish it.
PRICING: You can find the product discussed for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link below to see real-time pricing for the best deal:
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- Page 1 [Introduction, Pricing & Availability]
- Page 2 [Cooling Tech Upgraded: TriFrozr]
- Page 3 [RGBs Everywhere!]
- Page 4 [Detailed Specs + LN2 Mode Switch!]
- Page 5 [It Looks SO Freakin' Good!]
- Page 6 [The LIGHTNING Z Experience]
- Page 7 [Test System Specs & Benchmark Details]
- Page 8 [Benchmarks - Synthetic]
- Page 9 [Benchmarks - 1080p]
- Page 10 [Benchmarks - 1440p]
- Page 11 [Benchmarks - 4K]
- Page 12 [Performance Analysis]
- Page 13 [Overclocking the LIGHTNING Z]
- Page 14 [Final Thoughts]