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MSI R6970 Lightning - Lightning Strikes, Again

By Kenny Yeo - 25 Mar 2011

Lightning Strikes Again

Lightning Strikes Again

The Radeon HD 6970 is AMD’s fastest single GPU card and it has been released for about 3 months now. In our review, we thought that it was a little underwhelming and not as exciting as AMD’s previous releases. Fortunately, then, we now have the MSI R6870 Lightning.

MSI’s “Lightning” series of cards represents the company’s flagship high-end cards. These cards are made with the best components and are designed for hardcore users. So it is no surprise then to find that the MSI R6970 Lightning is packed with high-end features. For a start, it uses the new Military Class II suite of components which includes Solid CAPS, Hi-C Caps with tantalum cores and Super Ferrite Chokes, all in the name of improving efficiency, durability and stability.

The R6970 Lightning also has MSI’s Power4 architecture, which consists of an 18-phase PWM design (a world’s first), independent power to the memory, NEC Proadlizers and CopperMOS. These features help enhance overclocking performance by boosting and optimizing the power supply to critical components like the GPU and memory. Speaking of power, the R6970 Lightning also supports Triple Over-Voltage, which lets users tweak voltage levels of the GPU, memory and PLL with the aid of MSI’s now almost ubiquitous Afterburner overclocking utility.

Next, the R6970 Lightning is fitted with the latest third-generation Twin Frozr III cooler. The new cooler has larger 9cm “Propeller Blades” fans which MSI claims provide up to 40% more airflow over the previous generation cooler. On top of that, the cooler also has a nickel-plated copper base, high-density cooling fins and 8mm extra thick heatpipes for better heat dissipation.

To top it all off, the card is also factory overclocked, although a bit too conservatively, if we are to be completely honest. Core clock speeds have been bumped up to 940MHz from 880MHz, while memory clock speeds are unchanged at 5500MHz DDR. Considering the high-end components that have been added to beef the card up, we expected more.

Here’s a look at the R6970 Lightning.

The MSI R6970 Lightning looks considerably stockier thanks to the large Twin Frozr III cooler.

The card gets the usual twin DVI ports, single HDMI port and twin version 1.2 mini-DisplayPorts.

Cooling duties are handled by five 8mm thick copper heatpipes which  help dissipate heat to the super dense cooling fins, which in turn are cooled by two 90mm large fans.

No Lightning card will be complete without the crucial V-check points, which overclockers use to accurately determine the voltage at the GPU, memory and PLL circuit.

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  • Performance 8.5
  • Features 9
  • Value 7.5
The Good
Loads of high-end components and features
Effective and quiet cooler
The Bad
Underwhelming performance out of the box
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