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MSI GTX 980 Ti Lightning Review

Category: Video Cards
Price: $TBD
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MSI GTX 980 Ti Lightning Introduction:

MSI does not always build a Lightning model card in each revision of its product stack. In fact, when the GTX 980 was released, the enthusiast crowd was patiently waiting for the card that never came. Patience is a virtue, they say, and the waiting is now over. Instead of being based on the GTX 980, MSI went all out and put together the GTX 980 Ti Lightning. A beast of a card that screams performance at each and every turn.

We all know what the GTX 980 Ti is capable of and wonder how MSI is going to improve on the performance of the reference card, and drive home the reliability and cooling aspects of the card. Well, by using an all-digital power delivery system backed by MSI's Military Class component selection and a massive Tri Frozr cooling solution all tied to a custom PCB are a good start. Performance enhancements come by way of a big factory overclock that starts 205MHz higher than the 1000MHz base clock speed and a GPU Boosted clock speed of 1304MHz just as a starting point. While performance was clipped a bit when compared to GTX Titan X on the reference cards, methinks that won't be the case here. Pricing is going to surely reflect upon the custom nature of this card.

Time to see what MSI has delivered for the overclocking gamer!

MSI GTX 980 Ti Lightning Closer Look:

For this round, the GTX 980 Ti Lightning is based on a yellow and black theme that is getting a lot of traction now that red and black-based products are becoming the norm. The front panel shows the image of an F-35 Lightning fighter jet and that this card is built to be perfect for the task at hand. MSI's Overclocking logo is at the top right of the box, with the note at the bottom left showing the Lightning is based on the GTX 980 Ti GPU. The back of the box gives a peek over the wall at the feature set of the card, including the Mystic Lights, Torx Fan. SuperPipe technology, the use of an all-digital PWM, and more. Inside the box is a unique package that looks more like a jewelry chest than a container for a high end GPU. The box has a lift open top that shows the GTX 980 Ti Lightning. A loop of satin fabric comes out from a drawer that holds the accessory bundle for the card. A pretty interesting concept, to be sure.




The accessory bundle for the GTX 980 Ti Lighting is as unique as the card is. There are the standards, the install and user guide, a PEG 6-pin power adapter, and a certificate of stability that outlines the MIL STD 810G rated parts used to build the Lightning. You can get the irony of that when you think about it! The specialty parts that MSI includes are specific to this card, and include a heat sink plate for use when running the card under liquid nitrogen and the screws to attach it, and a trio of V-Checkpoint adapters that allow you to use a multimeter for a hardware level read of applied voltages rather than using just software that may have a calibration factor that does not give a true reading.


Let's take a deeper dive into what makes the GTX 980 Ti Lightning from MSI tick. The base line specifications are such that it should give even the GTX Titan X fits.

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