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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Under the Lightning’s Heatsink

We’ve already mentioned that MSI’s HD 7970 Lightning is one of the largest cards on the market in terms of PCB area and it is quite obvious that most of that extra space has been put to good use. It uses a massive 14-phase digital PWM for the GPU core which is a several orders of magnitude more than the 5-phase setup a reference HD 7970 receives. The memory meanwhile receives its own 2-phase power distribution network while the VDDCI receives a single phase.

Even though many chalk additional phases up to nothing more than a marketing gimmick and some companies boost this number without increasing current capacity, MSI went a different route. Instead of leveling out at the usual 200 amps of the reference design, the Lightning tops out at an impressive 425 amps.

Following in the footsteps and improving upon Gigabyte’s copper infused PCB concept, MSI has instituted what they call a “Lightning Power Layer” into their PCB. Essentially, this segregates the power distribution grids for each component within separate copper PCB layers. Supposedly, this should increase long term stability by leveling out current ripple and allow for more efficient PCB cooling.

As you may have noticed by now, the Lightning design is geared towards high end overclockers or enthusiasts who just want the best possible components on their $600 purchase. Naturally, MSI has achieved those goals through the use of highly engineered items which we don’t normally see on most graphics cards. We go over some of them below:

All of the components listed above have similar goals: increase card longevity, optimize overclocking results and lower heat production. Unfortunately, we can’t conclusively test any of these claims here and now but the Lightning has proven itself again and again in the extreme overclocking arena, which does say something about its capabilities and also its component selection.

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