Graphics Cards Guide

MSI R6970 Lightning review

MSI R6970 Lightning - Lightning Strikes, Again

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Overall rating 8/10
Loads of high-end components and features
Effective and quiet cooler
Underwhelming performance out of the box

Test Setup & Results

Test Setup

We’ll be evaluating the new MSI R6970 Lightning with our X58 testbed which has the following specifications:

  • 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

Since the basic performance of the Radeon HD 6970 SKU has been established in our original Radeon HD 6900 series article and we've also furthered that with a Radeon HD 6900 CrossFire performance article, we've decided to cutback on the number of tests for this card rather than running the usual suite of benchmarking tests.

Since the R6970 Lightning is touted for its overclocking capabilities, we are interested to find out just how far we could push the card. We will also present results of the card in it’s overclocking state to show just how much more performance you can eke out from such a highly-tuned card. To this end, we managed a maximum stable overclocking state of 1000MHz at the core and 5600MHz DDR at the memory, which is respectable for a Radeon HD 6970.

We are also interested to find out, in stock form, how much faster would this card be than a reference one. And for comparison, we have also included results of other high-end cards such as the Radeon HD 6950 and GeForce GTX 580 and GTX 570.

The full list of cards tested and driver versions used:

  • MSI R6970 Lighting 2GB GDDR5 (Catalyst 11.2)
  • AMD Radeon HD 6970 2GB GDDR5 (Catalyst 11.2)
  • AMD Radeon HD 6950 2GB GDDR5 (Catalyst 10.11)
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 1560MB GDDR5 (ForceWare 266.58)
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570 1280MB GDDR5 (ForceWare 263.09)
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 Ti 1GB GDDR5 (ForceWare 266.56)

The list of benchmarks used:

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