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MSI GTX 980 Ti Lightning Review


MSI GTX 980 Ti Lightning Testing:

MSI delivers a pretty complete package on paper, but finding out just what kind of performance the GTX 980 Ti Lightning will deliver consists of running it and comparison cards through the OverclockersClub.com suite of games and synthetic benchmarks. This will test the performance against many popular competitors. Comparisons will be made to cards of a range of capabilities to show where each card falls on the performance ladder. The games used are some of today's newest and most popular titles, which should be able to provide an idea of how the cards perform relative to each other.

The system specifications will remain the same throughout the testing. No adjustments will be made to the respective control panels during the testing to approximate the performance the end user can expect with a stock driver installation. I will be testing the cards at their stock speeds to see how they stack up and will test each one to find the maximum stable overclock. The cards will be placed in order from highest to lowest performance in each graph to show where they fall by comparison. Resolutions of 1920 x 1080, 2560 x 1440, and 3840 x 2160 will be used.


Testing Setup:

Comparison Video Cards:




  • MSI GTX 980 Ti Lightning : Core 1493MHz, Memory 1985MHz


MSI's GTX 980 Ti Lightning is a factory overclocked card that spits out a consistent 1430MHz boost clock on the Maxwell core in games. That in itself for a high end card is phenomenal, considering the rated GPU Boost clock is 1304MHz. Right out of the box the card is getting close to the maximum overclocks I have gotten with a slew of Maxwell-based video cards. Even so, I was able to wring a bit more clock speed out of the card with some trial and error. To start, I pushed the power limit to the max setting of 122%. Cranking up the voltage did not really give the card much more headroom and caused graphics related crashes during my testing. I backed down the voltage to where the card was stable and kept it in this area throughout my testing at +18mv.

From this point I figured I would be able to get up and over 1500MHz on the core, but no matter what combination of voltage, Power Limit, and fan speed, the core just was not going to play nice at anything higher than 1493MHz. Up to 1497MHz and even 1499MHz were stable in some of the tests, but 1500MHz was a no go every time. Kind of a bummer considering the pedigree of the card.

Memory overclocking was a bit more robust, allowing me to almost broach the 8000MHz effective data rate. However, getting there was a bit more challenging. Short of the MSI GTX 970 Gaming, MSI's GTX 980 Ti Lightning finished with the second highest memory clock speed I have reached in my testing. Again, if you test you can get a result at a higher speed, but not consistently. Overall, the card is a beast from the word go, but I still fell a bit short of my overclocking goals. Maybe it's time for some LN2.



Maximum Clock Speeds:

Testing for the maximum clock speed consisted of looping Unigine Heaven 4.0 for thirty minutes each to see where the clock speeds failed when pushed. If the clock speed adjustment failed, then the clock speeds and tests were re-run until they passed a full hour of testing.

  • Gaming Tests:
  1. Metro: Last Light
  2. BioShock Infinite
  3. Crysis 3
  4. Far Cry 4
  5. Battlefield 4
  6. Assassin's Creed Unity
  7. Unigine Heaven Benchmark 4.0
  8. 3DMark


  • Usage:

  1. Temperatures
  2. Power Consumption

  1. MSI GTX 980 Ti Lightning: Introduction & Closer Look
  2. MSI GTX 980 Ti Lightning Closer Look: The Video Card
  3. MSI GTX 980 Ti Lightning: Specifications & Features
  4. MSI GTX 980 Ti Lightning Testing: Setup & Overclocking
  5. MSI GTX 980 Ti Lightning Testing: Metro: Last Light
  6. MSI GTX 980 Ti Lightning Testing: BioShock Infinite
  7. MSI GTX 980 Ti Lightning Testing: Crysis 3
  8. MSI GTX 980 Ti Lightning Testing: Far Cry 4
  9. MSI GTX 980 Ti Lightning Testing: Battlefield 4
  10. MSI GTX 980 Ti Lightning Testing: Assassin's Creed Unity
  11. MSI GTX 980 Ti Lightning Testing: Unigine Heaven 4.0
  12. MSI GTX 980 Ti Lightning Testing: 3DMark
  13. MSI GTX 980 Ti Lightning Testing: Temperatures
  14. MSI GTX 980 Ti Lightning Testing: Power Consumption
  15. MSI GTX 980 Ti Lightning: Conclusion
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