What separates an enthusiast from your average DIYer is the amount of time and effort an enthusiast puts in making sure that not only have they selected the fastest component they can afford but also one that provides as much tinkering as possible. And it should look like a bomb. With their GTX 780 Lightning, MSI is certainly planning to please the enthusiast.
The rather large box the the MSI GTX 780 Lightning lets you know right from the start that you’re in for something special. Like a jewellery case, the top of the box flips open while a tray at the bottom slides out with all the goodies. While we’ll get to the card in a bit, included in the box are cables for measuring voltages, a backplate if you dont want to use the one attached on the card, power cables for older PSUs and a CD with the included drivers and additional software.
The Graphics card
You can tell that MSI has put in a lot of thought in putting together their GTX 780 Lightning. On the top, you have the logo that lights up between green blue and red denoting the amount of power it’s consuming. You have three fans with dual PWM controllers that can be adjusted using MSI’s Fan Control app. The two side fans are larger 9cms in size while the middle one is 8cms. These fans also deflect airflow into the heat pipes for better heat dissipation.
On the back, you have what MSI likes to call a GPU Reactor that provides more power while eliminating power noise to lead to better overclocking. The GPU Reactor sticks out a bit so you need to make sure you have some space between the GPU and your CPU cooler. Alternatively, you can replace the baclplate with a standard one that is bundled with the packaging.
On the back you have three connectors for monitoring voltages of the GPU, Memory and PLL. MSI’s Afterburner app lets you adjust these voltage while a the temparature monitor gives you info to make sure everything reamins within manageable levels. In case your overclock to the extend that your card fails to boot properly, MSI has equipped the GTX 780 Lightning with a dual BIOS to bring it back to stock speeds. MSI also uses dust removal technology that kicks in every time you power up your PC- certainly helpful in the Middle East.
We used our Sandy Bridge based setup with 8GB DDR3 and the MSI Z77 motherboard to test out the MSI GTX 780 Lightning. For comparison, we have used the stock NVIDIA GTX780 as well as the Gigabyte 780OC-GD which, like the MSI, is an overclocked version of the GTX 780.
Unfortunately our over clocking experience on the MSI GTX 780 Lightning wasn’t that great. We used the bundled After Burner utility but for some reason could not increase voltage level on the card. There is a check box and a slider but they just did not work for us. Using default voltage, we were able to take the GPU from the stock speed of 980MHz to 1093MHz with 1215MHz at boost levels which is pretty ok. Unfortunately we weren’t that lucky with memory overclocking- barely getting it from 1502MHz to 1566MHz. Anything above that would result in benchmarks crashing.
The MSI GTX 780 Lightning is a pretty good graphics cards that comes over clocked out of the box and offers the tweaker a good number of options to play with. It also looks really good which is an important factor for an enthusiast. The benchmarks above show the graphics card to be on par with the Gigabyte card we tested and unless you’re using a 4k resolution, you’d be hard pressed to find a game this card can’t handle. At over AED 2500, it’s definitely not an easy buy though.