MSI GTX 680 Lightning Review

Author: SKYMTL
Date: August 4, 2012
Product Name: GTX 680 Lightning
Part Number: N680GTX Lightning
Warranty: 3 Years
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MSIís Lightning series is well known and highly respected among enthusiast circles and it didnít takelong to port this design philosophy into GTX 680 form. The resulting GTX 680 Lightning is one of the marketís premier single GPU graphics cards and follows in the footsteps of its predecessors by promising extremely high overclocking limits.

While the race to produce the fastest Kepler-based card may be just starting to heat up, MSI is betting the GTX 680 Lightning will stand the test of time against the competition. It features exclusive technologies like Triple Overvoltage, a Military Class component selection and one of the quietest high performance gaming experiences available. As you may expect, this kind of technology doesnít come cheap and the Lightning edition just so happens to be one of the most expensive GTX 680s on the market at a staggering $599. MSI has recently softened the financial blow by adding a download code for NBA 2K12 but we doubt a $29.99 game will make anyone feel better about putting $600 towards any product.

With a price that tacks an $80 premium onto EVGAís SC+ and costs some $60 more than the excellent DirectCu II TOP, one would expect the Lightning to boast some of the highest clocks speeds round. That just isnít the case. Instead, it has a base clock of 1111MHz while the Boost speeds regularly hit over 1200MHz so performance will be spectacular but MSI hasnít been able to match ASUSí achievements nor did they add to the reference memory clocks like EVGA did. This leaves us wondering if MSI is focusing on overclocking skills alone as reasoning enough to justify the Lightningís high price tag.

The pricing for MSIís latest Lightning may be extreme and its feature list is nearly endless but thatís not to say there havenít been any teething pains along the way. Indeed, when we first started this review, the vast majority of Lightning-specific overclocking features were stillborn and just didnít work as advertised. Weíll tell the whole story within this articleís overclocking section but for the time being, letís just say that MSIís AfterBurner software didnít bypass the GTX 680-specific limitations it promised to overcome.

While we can rag on the Lightningís price all day, there are some tangible benefits here as well. It comes with a three year warranty (which is longer than most people will keep a single card) and for us Canadians it also includes MSIís exclusive Canada-based RMA service which has received accolades from our members.

Regardless of clock speeds and price, we have some high hopes for the newest member of MSIís Lightning family. In the past, these cards have proven to be some of the best around and this one should continue that tradition.


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