Graphics Cards Guide

MSI R5870 Lightning review

Ride the Lightning - MSI R5870 Lightning

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Overall rating 9/10
Loads of high-end features
Effective cooler
Impressive overclocking performance
Memory overclocking is poor.
Stock clock speeds are a tad conservative.
More Awards:
Most Overclockable Product

Lightning Strikes Again

Lightning Strikes Again

The Sapphire HD 5870 Vapor-X might be our best Radeon HD 5870 graphics card so far, but that position is now under threat from MSI. 

Much like the SAS of the United Kingdom and the Rangers of the United States of America, the Lightning series of graphics cards represent MSI's very best. Typically, cards which fall into the Lightning category make use of a plethora of high-end, military-class components including highly conductive capacitors, solid state chokes, and multiple-phase PWM (pulse-width modulation) controller, to help it achieve above average levels of performance.


And this philosophy can be seen in MSI's latest Lightning graphics card – the R5870 Lightning. On paper, the card retains the same 1600 stream processor Cypress XT core, which is now running at slightly higher clock speeds.

To be precise, the core is now clocked at 900MHz, which represents a mild but significant 50MHz bump. Then again, this is a Lightning card, and the kind of people who buy cards like this usually don't leave their cards bone-stock. So it is a good thing that the MSI R5870 Lightning comes with the abovementioned sorts of niceties that'll aid users/gamers in the overclocking process.

Speaking of overclocking, the R5870 Lightning comes bundled with MSI's popular Afterburner overclocking software. Developed with RivaTuner, the Afterburner software allows users to easily overclock their graphics card's core and memory clock speeds. But more importantly, cards fully supported by Afterburner can also have their core voltages tweaked. This is essential to achieving higher clock speeds.

So far so good, the new MSI R5870 Lightning seems to have all bases covered. Let's take a closer look at the card itself on the next page while you can keep an eye on the full specs list of the card on the specs tab.