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MSI HD 7970 Lightning 3GB Review

Author: SKYMTL
Date: April 11, 2012
Product Name: HD 7970 3GB Lightning
Part Number: R7970 Lightning
Warranty: 3 Years
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Conclusion


The HD 7970 may be having a hard time standing out against a GTX 680 card that has it outgunned and out priced but this architecture still has plenty of life left in it. Regardless of the adversity placed in their paths, AMD’s board partners have continued to innovate and there’s no better example of this march towards perfection than MSI’s HD 7970 Lightning.

While it may cost a small fortune, MSI has designed this card in such a way that could take some of the shine away from NVIDIA’s dominating but unavailable GTX 680. The overclocked core and memory frequencies allow it to match or beat a reference GTX 680 in nearly every benchmark but this card really stretches its legs in multi monitor situations. Before the HD 7970, running games at playable framerates across multiple screens typically required two GPUs working together. That all changed a few months ago and the Lightning takes extreme resolution gaming to the next level.

High end computing isn’t all about performance though and Twin Frozr IV heatsink delivers some impressively low temperatures and remained almost dead silent throughout testing. Also, even though our numbers didn’t reflect the phenomenal overclocking results when the Lightning was placed under ultra cold conditions, they were still respectable. Reaching a level north of 1200MHz on the core is nothing short of impressive considering the HD 7970’s reference clock speed is 925MHz and the memory wasn’t a slouch either.

MSI’s flagship GPU may beat the GTX 680 in some benchmarks but that doesn’t mean that the cards fall in the Lightning’s favor. In fact, the price / performance deck is heavily stacked against the HD 7970 and this card doesn’t make things any better. At $600, it is currently one of the most expensive graphics cards on the market and it doesn’t achieve a large enough framerate cushion to fully justify its price. This is all capped off my MSI’s bone headed move of requiring users to pay another $100 for an active DisplayPort to DVI adaptor just to ensure compatibility with many large screen monitors and 120Hz panels.

Regardless of its price and a mind boggling display output choice, MSI’s HD 7970 Lightning is one of the best cards currently on the market. This is the superstar everyone wants to mimic but few can hope to match and it is well deserving of our Dam Good Award.


 
 
 

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