World Exclusive: MSI N260GTX Lightning Black Edition


The MSI N260GTX Lightning Black Edition

The MSI N260GTX Lightning Black Edition

Following in the footsteps of Palit's GeForce GTX 260 Sonic 216 SP, the first GTX 200 class graphics card to utilize a custom cooler, the MSI N260 Lightning also has a custom cooler stamped on top of it, aptly named "Twin Frozr". The Twin Frozr sports dual-fans and has five heat pipes, which ensures faster dissipation of heat away from the GPU. And in true military tradition, MSI says that even if one fan breaks down, the other will continue to work. Though we didn't try this feature, to add on, the cooler is quiet at low loads. However, once the card is seriously taxed, it can momentarily work itself into frantic spin, at which point it becomes fairly loud and distracting.

The card itself looks like it's military-grade. It looks clean and the brushed aluminum of the Twin Frozr cooler gives it a surgical look and feel.

The most eye-catching thing about the card is undoubtedly the dual-fan Twin Frozr cooler. It sports two large 70mm fans and cooling is further aided by not two or three, but five heat pipes!

If you are wondering about video connectivity options, the MSI N260GTX Lightning Black Edition has one of each: a VGA, DVI and HDMI port.

Need more graphics horsepower? This card has two SLI connectors, which means a 3-way SLI configuration is possible, should you have the cash to splash.

The N260GTX Lightning Black Edition still requires two 6-pin PCIe power connectors and a minimum PSU rating of at least 500W is recommended. Note also the S/PDIF connector which is just to the right.

The N260GTX Lightning Black Edition also has something called V-Check Points, which allow overclockers to use multimeters to determine the actual GPU and memory voltage.

The AirForce Panel allows users to overclock the card on-the-fly, and also allow users to change profiles quickly to suit their usage.

Imagine this in a dark room.

The AirForce Panel can be used on your desk or installed onto your system's 5.25-inch bay and it works in tandem with the Lightning software that must be installed. With the Lightning software installed, the AirForce Panel will allow you to make adjustments to your card's voltage and clock speeds by the mere press of a button. It sounds easy on paper, but it is actually harder in practice. The Lightning software seemed a bit buggy and slow to respond. While it is easy to increase the clock speeds and voltage by means of the AirForce Panel, there's no real way of knowing what the new exact values are. Furthermore, you can only adjust these settings by fixed steps, thus depriving overclockers the ability to fine tune their setup. If it's any consolation, this Lightning software utility is still in its early phases, and the folks at MSI have said that they will be fine tuning it further to get the best out of it. But this still does not detract from the fact that the AirForce Panel comes across as more gimmicky than useful.

Here's a whole list of what the card came with:

  • Driver CD
  • Quick installation guide
  • User Manual
  • AirForce Panel
  • 1 x DVI to HDMI adapter
  • 1 x VGA to DVI adapter
  • 1 x S/PDIF connector