Graphics Cards Guide

MSI N580GTX Lightning Xtreme Edition review

MSI N580GTX Lightning Xtreme Edition - Memory Overload

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Overall rating 8/10
Excellent cooler
Dual-slot solution
Relatively high clock speeds out of the box
Too pricey
3GB memory has little impact on performance

Test Setup & Results

Test Setup

Since the basic performance of an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 has been established in our very first article of it,  we've decided to cutback on the number of tests for this card rather than running the usual suite of benchmarking tests. The MSI N580GTX Lightning Xtreme was tested on our usual graphics testbed, which consisted of the following components:

  • Intel Core i7-975 (3.33GHz)
  • Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD4P motherboard
  • 3 x 1GB DDR3-1333 G.Skill memory in triple channel mode
  • Seagate 7200.10 200GB SATA hard drive
  • Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit

We had recently tested the ASUS Matrix GTX580 Platinum, so we'll be adding to the list of cards tested in that review along with the Sparkle Calibre X580 and the results from the MSI Lightning Xtreme. The list of cards tested and driver versions used:

  • MSI N580GTX Lightning Xtreme Edition 3GB DDR5 (ForceWare 275.33)
  • ASUS Matrix GTX580 Platinum (ForceWare 275.33)
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 1560MB GDDR5 (ForceWare 266.58)
  • Sparkle Calibre X580 (ForceWare 262.99)
  • MSI R6970 Lighting 2GB GDDR5 (Catalyst 11.2)
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590 3GB GDDR5 (ForceWare 267.71)
  • AMD Radeon HD 5970 2GB GDDR5 (Catalyst 11.2)

The list of benchmarks used:

  • Futuremark 3DMark Vantage
  • Futuremark 3DMark 11
  • Crysis Warhead
  • Far Cry 2
  • Battlefield Bad Company 2

Benchmark Results

With its slightly higher clocks out of the box, it was no surprise that the MSI Lightning Xtreme had the lead over the other overclocked GTX 580 cards from ASUS and Sparkle. The differences were marginal though and translated to a couple of frames at best.

When it came to the GPU core temperature, we found that the MSI Lightning recorded an identical 58.0 degrees Celsius as the ASUS Matrix. This was pretty impressive and coupled with the almost-silent Twin Frozr III cooler, this MSI card certainly matched up to our expectations. The power draw of this MSI card was also mostly on par with the other GTX 580 cards, though the ASUS Matrix had a slight advantage here when idling.

Finally, the overclocking potential of this card was very decent. We managed to hit a higher core frequency than the ASUS Matrix, though the Matrix had the higher memory clock. Nevertheless, it was sufficient to help the MSI beat the ASUS in our overclocking test. Obviously, those who use more exotic cooling solutions may have better luck with pushing for higher clocks. We were moderately pleased with the 13% increase in 3DMark Vantage performance with our attempt.