MSI unleashes fastest GTX780 in the world

MSI Geforce GTX780 Lightning header hardware

The GTX780 Lightning has been unleashed, billed by MSI as the most advanced Lightning graphics card they’ve ever made.

The GTX780 lightning has been in the news lately for breaking into the top 15 overall leaderboard on HWBOT. Two GTX780 Lightnings under the command of overclocker 8 Pack were able to break the 80,000 marks in 3DMark.

It features a completely custom circuit board, a brand new cooler and heatsink shroud design, and a slightly altered colour scheme, to denote how much of a departure this is from their previous Lightning  models.

MSI South Africa says that they will be bringing the GTX780 Lightning to retailers and distributors towards the end of September 2013. Enthusiasts eager to get their hands on one will need to fork out almost R11,600 for it, a steep price considering that the regular GTX780 with the TwinFrozr IV cooler retails for around R9000.


Specification GTX480 GTX580 GTX680 GTX780 GTX780 Lightning GTX Titan
 Recommended Price  $499  $499  $400  $640  $750  $1000
 GPU Architecture  GF100  GF110  GK104  GK110  GK110  GK110
 Stream processors  480  512  1536  2304  2304  2688
 Core clocks  700MHz  722MHz  1006MHz  863MHz  980MHz  836MHz
 Boost clocks  —  —  1058MHz  900MHz  1033MHz  876MHz
 Memory clocks  3700MHz  4000MHz  6008MHz  6008MHz  6008MHz  6008MHz
 VRAM size  1536MB  1536MB  2048MB  3072MB  3072MB  6144MB
 Memory bus width  384-bit  384-bit  256-bit  384-bit  384-bit  384-bit
 TDP  250W  250W  195W  250W  300W  250W

The GTX780 Lightning starts off with higher default speeds, coming in at 980MHz for the core clock speeds, boosting up to 1033MHz. Memory clocks stay at 6GHz effectively and the only GPU with higher default memory clocks is the GTX770. With an 11% increase in clock speed and higher thermal and voltage limits, the GTX780 Lightning will be as fast as a GTX Titan right out of the box.

The GTX780 Lightning features a lot of custom work by MSI. It’s shorter than the reference PCB by about a centimeter and features a metal heat shroud, aluminium backplate, and two SLI fingers allowing you to put four of these together to push a serious amount of pixels around.

The front houses two 90mm fans and one 80mm fan, with the 80mm fan coloured yellow and surrounded by a few yellow stripes which are meant to match the colour scheme of MSI’s MPower and Xpower motherboards. Beneath the shroud is the fan housing which bolts onto the heatsink, which not only has a large copper block placed on the GPU chip, but also has no less than seven heatpipes.

Underneath the cooler is a completely custom circuit board which houses a 20-phase PWM bank, two 8-pin PEG connectors (the standard GTX780 uses one 8-pin and one 6-pin), a set of hand-picked chokes, measuring points for voltages. The card has three BIOS options to boot with, an MSI badge on the back that dims and brightens according to GPU load, MSI’s GPU Reactor technology to reduce coil whine, and a status LED to indicate the card’s load.

The “Lightning” name found on the top of the card’s heatsink shroud is lit up by an LED with three colours to indicate power consumption – green indicates low load, blue indicates light gaming workloads and red is then the card is pushed to its maximum limits.

On average, the card is faster than the stock GTX780 and the AMD Radeon HD7970 GHz edition at resolutions up to 1920 x 1200. Moving up to 2560 x 1440, that gap shortens considerably and all these cards begin to hit their limits of their memory subsystem. At this resolution, games like Sleeping Dogs, Crysis 3 and Skyrim are processor-limited for the other three cards, showing some improvements with the Lightning thanks to higher default and boost speeds.

Favourable reviews for this quiet giant

PC Perspective awarded the GTX780 Lightning with their Gold award, saying that it was the best GTX780 they had ever tested. They lauded the card’s speed, extreme quietness and efficiency, only costing overclockers 18 watts of power for an overall 16% performance increase. An average performance boost of 40% over the stock GTX680 was also noted.

Guru3D could not stop gushing about the card or its abilities, proclaiming it the best GTX780 in the world, bar none. Their tests showed it equaling or beating the GTX Titan on many occations, musing that if Nvidia were to ever fully unlock the card’s overclocking abilities, it would be unsurpassed.

Overclock3D also gave it their Gold award, but noted that the PowerTune limits were too low and that variations of the card using Samsung or Hynix memory would be able to overclock even higher. MSI promises to relase a BIOS update in future to address this.

Reviews: PC Perspective, Overclock3D, Guru3D

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MSI unleashes fastest GTX780 in the world

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