MSI GTX 580 Lightning Xtreme Edition (XE) 3GB Review

Author: SKYMTL
Date: May 30, 2011
Product Name: MSI GTX 580 Lightning Xtreme Edition
Part Number: N580GTX-Lightning-XE
Warranty: 3 Years
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A Closer Look at the MSI Lightning XE 3GB

As is befitting a card of the Lightning’s stature, it ships in a massive box with plenty of protection and a long list of accessories. The most notable additions here is a pair of ultra long SLI connectors and a trio of voltage monitoring leads for a digital multimeter.

Just like we said in the introduction, you’ll likely be having a bit of déjà vu right about now since for all intents and purposes the Xtreme Edition’s façade is basically a carbon copy of the standard MSI Lightning. It uses the same excellent Twin Frozr III heatsink –with two blue fans- and retains its predecessor’s impressive 11 ½” length so be prepare to measure carefully if you’re using a smaller case. The Lightning series’ girth has also been expanded over a reference GTX 580 by about 3/4” which allowed MSI to incorporate an expanded PWM design.

While the Twin Frozr III heatsink design with its three large 8mm heatpipes has been carried over from previous cards, MSI has added fans which change colour. This may seem a bit tacky to some of you but the fans have a finish on them which shifts colour from blue to white as ambient temperatures rise while being backlit by LEDs. This allows passive monitoring of in-case temperatures…as long as your case has a window installed.

The fans on the Lightning XE are also programmed to counter rotate at high speeds for about 30 seconds at system startup in order to remove any dust that’s been accumulating on the heatsink fins. This “dust removal technology” is supposed to keep the Twin Frozr III heatsink operating at peak thermal efficiency so temperatures don’t deviate over the Lightning’s lifetime.

Due to its high clock speeds and the ability to hit even higher targets when enough voltage is applied, MSI has equipped the Lightning XE with two 8-pin PCI-E power connectors. We also see the three voltage monitoring pin-outs making a comeback from past Lightning and Hawk series cards. With these, you can measure PLL, GPU and memory voltages in real time with a multimeter.

Much like the rest of this card, the backplate connector layout is an exact reflection of the standard Lightning. It has a pair of DVI connectors as well as full sized outputs for DisplayPort and HDMI 1.4.

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