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Old September 16, 2013, 07:49 PM
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Default MSI GTX 780 Lightning Review Comment Thread

The MSI GTX 780 Lightning has a lot of expectations to live up to and it does exactly that. This is one of the best GTX 780's currently available but it also happens to be one of the most expensive too.

Read more here: MSI GTX 780 Lightning Review

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Old September 16, 2013, 09:17 PM
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Nice review.
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Old September 17, 2013, 10:55 AM
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Good writeup Sky.

Think i spotted a spelling mistake:
Page 10:
The real limiting factor for many overclockers will be the memory. Elpida ships (Chips?) just aren’t known for their clock speed prowess


-Edit -
Sorry to nitpick, but some more issues here:
Page 10 again:

There is one final wrinkle in the Lightning’s fabric. MSI ultimately holds the keys to another version of AfterBurner which is under a strict “do not distribute” ban due to restrictions from NVIDIA and is individually keyed to the individual it is sent to. It allows for absolutely ridiculous amount of voltage and will be a Holy Grail to extreme overclockers. With it, you can seriously mess of your graphics card so it shouldn’t be surprising that MSI will only send this to people who they (missing some content?)

Unfortunately the version sent to us had a fundamental issue since it always miss-reporting our card’s Power Limit. As a result, it didn’t allow one iota more overclocking headroom but we’ve already seen extreme overclockers hit the 1.5GHz mark with the Lightning and presumably this version of AfterBurner. We won’t hold this against MSI in any way since this version isn’t meant for public consumption anyways.
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Last edited by mattlef; September 17, 2013 at 11:01 AM.
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Old September 17, 2013, 11:31 AM
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I wish you would include the benchmarks for the maximum overclocks of the competitors in the Overclocking section. Overclocked results should really be compared to overclocked results. The stock clock results of this card were disappointing compared to the competition, given its price, and I would have loved to compare at a glance how much better (or worse) it overclocked. Now I'm going to have to go search the other reviews!

Case in Point: The overclocked results for the DCII, Classy and the Lightning in Crysis 3:







According to the overclocks you attained on all these cards, there is not a whit of difference from one to the other. So, the extra money spent on the Lightning, is really for naught. I suppose you're paying for the excellent heatsink and the lower acoustics, but really what is 2-4dB between friends?



And once again, those are at stock clocks (at least stock clock for all the cards, though).

If I was looking at one of these cards, the lowest priced card at that moment would probably sway me (although performance at stock clocks being a factor, the Classy would be a major contender, too).
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Last edited by great_big_abyss; September 17, 2013 at 11:39 AM.
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Old September 17, 2013, 12:53 PM
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I was thinking the same thing GBA. Thanks for taking the time to point this out. I am starting to think GPU's, especially with nVidia's new restrictions are making the field rather bland. Intel style. Makes one wonder if nVidia will kill that initiative once the 9xxx series is released or will they continue to handicap their cards. Stupid move imo.
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Old September 17, 2013, 01:35 PM
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I may be hitting a slight CPU bottleneck. I'll have to investigate.
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Old September 17, 2013, 01:44 PM
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mattlef - indeed, noticed the missing content too. Probably should have been there just "know."


great_big_abyss - agreed. However I understand why this is not done. It is done to make the card stand out of the rest, when being overclocked. However overclocker card had to be compared to the other overclocked cards... true.


SKYMTL - very nice review and card, thanks for your hard work
No close up picture of the caps used? It looks to me that there are plenty of tantalum caps used (the small black bricks) and I wonder what these polymer caps are too... :) Could be interesting to break down some marketing hype of "military grade components."
I'm, for example, almost certain that the eVGA Classified GTX 780 use Nichicon FP L8 caps, witch are worser that Nichicon LE, however still very good caps:



Nichicon FP L8 - ripple 6100mA - 0.95$
Nichicon LE - ripple 6300mA - 1.69$
(ripple currents for d8x9 820uF 2.5V caps, the higher the better = more clean voltage)

But there is also higher version of the LE 820uF 2.5V cap with 6600mA ripple and if it will be possible to get there a d10 cap, then there is a Nichicon LE 1500uF 2.5V with record-breaking 7300mA ripple current capability (d10x13). Now that would help even more!

Witch caps are on the MSI GTX 780 Lighting?



As I see it, MSI should really go for the Samsung rams, when pushing their premium product. True, that the rams aren't that need for the maximum speed, but no-one is going to break any records using Elpida rams, that is for sure.
Not providing a working version of Afterburner that would overcome the voltage limits seriously hurt down the maximum overclocking result, witch is shame for MSI. And could hurt their sales, as if the card is supposed to show some overclocking potencial, then w/o the means to do so (more voltage) it is doomed from the very start.

Also I do miss more close up on the "GPU Reactor" bottom side. That is because this marketing hype tend to suggest a active VRM unit:
Quote:
the Reactor leverages the Lightning’s advanced VRM grid in order to selectively boost current to the core when need while virtually eliminating voltage fluctuations
If I can judge to what I see (assuming there is NO components on the bottom side of the PCB we see), then all I can see are SIX tantalum caps (with the possibility of one more) and 12 notable ceramic caps (with the possibility of four more be added) AND THAT IT IS.

Why the shouting? That is because ALL this "GPU Reactor" does is to add more caps as near as the GPU, as possible. This is NO ACTIVE VRM UNIT and therefore it cannot "selectively boost current" in any way, shape or form. Yes, caps can filter the voltage better and eliminate the ripple and fluctuance. But they are not "leveraging" anything, they are just helping and anyone who know, what these caps are all about, are adding them anywhere they can fit.
Therefore I'm passionatelly disagree with all the hype about it, even this IS a good thing (they should not left the 5 caps out, tough) and should be added anywhere it can fit, then it cannot be presented as almost another VRM - witch it is not.
Futhermore I think I surely can pick better components to be soldered there, but that is just nitpicking.

All I say that these marketing hypes should be taken with huge grain of salt.

Still, the card is impressive (the design, counter rotation of the fans, being quiet...) - but it is better that eVGA Classy? No, mostly thanks to the Elpida rams, that come with it always. With Classy, there is a good chance (eVGA Emplyee said that Samsung is delivering the rams, so they are using it now as much, as they can) that what one get is the card with Samsung rams.
With Lighting one is stuck with Elpida no matter what. Sure, there are nice add-ons, grat case and all the bells and whistles. But eVGA Classy owns the speed crown, not to mention that there is available the unlocked bios for it, witch bypas the voltage and power limits completely, where for MSI only the choosen few can enjoy that level of overclock.

If I had the money (and a PCIE equipped machine to begin with), I won't pay more for MSI GTX 780 lighting, but go for the eVGA Clasified GTX 780.
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Last edited by trodas; September 17, 2013 at 01:51 PM.
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Old September 17, 2013, 04:08 PM
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Just so you know there is a shortage of the Samsung ram chips. The Classified and the Lightning are both supposed to have them and may in the future. The Elpida were both companies backup/second choice until samsung gets more chips rolling out.
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Old September 18, 2013, 01:05 AM
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Not anymore. The Samsung rams should be there now, according to this:

[Official] EVGA Classified Owner's Club - Page 185

But my point does differ. I did not speculating about what it supposed to be there or what the company wanted to be there. I was talking to what it is actually in there. And that is what matters to the buyer.
My perspective is this: the pricetag pretty much guarantee that I never can allow to buy such card. So for the top of the line card for MSI, the components have to be top-notch and not something "no-one really wants to be there, but it just ended up being there"... That means - don't sell for premium price something with sub-prime components. Especially the aim for overclockers, that are well-known to hate Elpida rams and for good reasons, ended up being a pure chucpe.


BTW, my high skepticism about "GPU Reactor" was confirmed by czech review of the same MSI GTX 780 lighting - w/o the "GPU Reactor" the max stable overclock was only 10MHz lower:
MSI GeForce GTX 780 Lightning ? kráska s výkonem Titanu
Laughable. They even pointed out sometimg I forget - and that is the fact this thing is NOT SOLDERED, but detachable and these connectors resistance pretty much limit it's real word benefits. Still - 10MHz is good 10MHz in my point of view. But I can make it better :)
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Last edited by trodas; September 18, 2013 at 01:24 AM.
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Old September 18, 2013, 01:47 AM
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BTW, in czech review of the MSI Lighting are 4000pixels images of the front and back of the PCB:


As well, as many other details, for example the laughable connectors for the "GPU Reactor":
MSI GeForce GTX 780 Lightning ? kráska s výkonem Titanu


But what catch my eye was this:



Could those can really be a Nichicon polymer FP 5K series caps, 270uF 16V?
Because the color does not match any Nichicon polymer caps in production and I did not know of and "5K" serie of these caps (also Digikey and Nichicon failed to know them, not to mention the FPCAP series identification code is just FP and nothing else, not the subtype...!).
Only know of FPCAP series E5 and R5, nothing more with "5", futhermore none of these are made in 270uF 16V - ONLY L8, PS and R7 series. AND they (FP L8 on picture) look quite different:
http://s16.postimg.org/d7kgn6t9h/Gigabyte_R9200_16.jpg
(Geniune Nichicon FPCAP L8 series, boght from Digikey short time ago)

So, what the hell is this on the MSI GTX 780 Lighting?!
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