With the arrival of a new high-end GPU, hardware enthusiasts immediately look forward to a MSI Lightning graphics card based on the new chip. That card, the R7970 Lightning, has been on the market for a couple of months now. Last week the manufacturer launched a Hawk version of the Radeon HD 7870. Hardware.Info tested and overclocked both video cards.
First the main specifications. On the R7970 Lightning we of course find an AMD Radeon HD 7970 GPU combined with 3 GB GDDR5 memory. While the default clock frequencies of a Radeon HD 7970 card are 925 MHz for the GPU and 1375 MHz for the memory, the Lightning runs at 1070 and 1400 MHz. The card has two DVI and four DisplayPort connectors, which makes it possible to connect six monitors to this card.
The average price of £425 is relatively high compared to other Radeon HD7970s, but hopefully you do get something in return. Whether that is the case, we will discuss later on in this review.
The graphics card uses a new cooler, the MSI Twin Frozr IV. It has five heatpipes (two of which are 8 mm thick) and two 10 cm fans. During startup the fans blow the other way for 30 seconds to remove dust from the heatsink. The special shape of the fan blades should improve airflow by 20 percent according to MSI. The manufacturer also claims that the R7970 Lightning is both cooler and quieter than a reference Radeon HD 7970 thanks to the new Twin Frozr IV cooler. Underneath the main cooler there is another flat heatsink that cools the memory and the VRM.
With the new cooler MSI bids goodbye to the traditional colour scheme of the Lightning coolers. The new one is black with yellow accents. This appears to be an acquired taste, judging by reactions in the hardware community. We tend to agree with the negative comments about the looks of the card, since it is a little odd when the same brand makes its high-end motherboard black and blue, but its high-end video card black and yellow.