With the R6970 Lightning, MSI brings a really interesting product to the market. It quite honestly surprised us not only in tweakability but more overly build quality and if anything but important, noise levels. That new cooler really kicks ass.
Yeah good stuff. MSI took the GPU and started building an infrastructure of the very best components around it on a PCB. Then they added that Twin Frozr III cooler, which really works out well for this product, if you look at temperatures and noise levels. Next to that you need to include all the little intricate extras like the NEC proadlizers, massive voltage tweakability, the phase LEDs, voltage monitoring points and sure, the tiny micro switches on the PCB for GPU V-switch, PWM clock tuner and OCP unlocker. Well it's just all sexy and dandy stuff to fool around with alright.
We do have to say this though, the R6970 remains what it is, it's a really fun product but sure, it does lack here and there in performance compared to the GTX 580 for example. Most of it, is due to the updated micro architecture of the GPU. Anyway, overclock it a little more and you can squeeze another 5 to 10% performance out of a product that already offers really nice performance. Of course, being all reference you could try and voltage tweak the product as well, then nearing 1 GHz should be very possible.
The good thing is that the Lightning model is not massively more expensive over the reference product compared with any brand, currently you can pick it up at a sales price of roughly 300 EUR for this 2GB model.
So overall we feel that the R6970 Lightning edition is a bloody nice product if you can pick it up for the right price, all variables are simply are right, making this a unique, all custom product built guru style. Please do try and tweak a little with MSI's AfterBurner, that software is hot stuff. Voltage wise I'd not exceed 1.3V if you stick to air cooling, really ... that's plenty and it will get you towards the 1 GHz barrier, which is a psychological threshold we all like to pass I guess :)
Other than that, the noise levels are downright silent, power consumption is very decent and your gaming experience will run up-to 1920x1200 extremely well and all that with the very best image quality settings. Pretty much any game to date will have no issue whatsoever. As such, the product comes very much recommended, definitely a top pick, if priced right of course...
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