MSI N480GTX Lightning Review EXCLUSIVE

MSI N480GTX Lightning Review

Test Setup

Intel Core i7 950 @ 4GHz
6GB Mushkin Redline DDR3
ASUS Rampage III Extreme
Corsair AX1200
Noctua NH-D14 with MX3 thermal paste
MSI N480GTX Lightning
Windows 7 Ultimate 64 Bit

Overclocking and Temperatures

So with the full huge improvements over the reference GTX480 in cooling and power phases it was time to see how far MSI Afterburner could push the card.

The reference 480 managed to improve the Core clock to 830MHz although this did necessitate manually running the fans at 90% to keep the card remotely stable and even then it blitzed through 90°C quite happily.

The MSI Lightning shows that the “Lightning” moniker isn’t ill advised completely annihilating the stock card by pushing up to 900MHz, with suitable gains in the linked shaders and even the memory made it up to 2GHz. Staggering increases.

“Ahhh but the GTX480 is a grill” I can hear you all saying. Maybe in reference trim, but that Twin Frozr III isn’t just a pretty face.

With the fans at 50% and FurMark set to 1920×1200, 8xAA and all the candy turned on the Lightning, when at stock, didn’t top 64°C. Let’s repeat that.

At stock, under major loading, the MSI N480GTX Lightning is only just hotter than the reference GTX480 at idle.

Overclocking performance follows a similar pattern to the reference with the fans needing to be run at 80% to keep the card under control. Here however is the major difference.

The reference card just about kept under 100°C at 90% fans and was louder than Heathrow on a busy summers afternoon.

The Twin Frozr III at 80% keeps the card at 78°C and is comprehensively quieter than the reference design. It’s SOOO quiet.

We’ll definitely have something to say about this in our conclusion, but it’s time for testing.