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

The MSI R5870 Lightning

The MSI R5870 Lightning

 Let's begin our description of the MSI R5870 Lightning with the cooler. The card employs a Twin Frozr II cooler, which is an improved version of the first edition Twin Frozr cooler, which we reviewed in May last year. The cooler features two 80mm large fans sitting on top of what seems to be solidly-designed heatsink, and also quad 8mm thick SuperPipe heat pipes, which are supposedly the thickest in the market.

If you ask us, we think the original Twin Frozr looked better. We liked its clean surgical looks, and the blocky cooler cover also makes it look more solidly constructed. This second generation Twin Frozr II cooler somehow looks more flimsy, but that's just us. Despite that, we are happy to report that new cooler is quiet at load, and never once sounded overtaxed even if the GPU is at full load.

Anyhow, to complement this massive cooler, the R5870 Lightning also features a comprehensive power deliver system to help ensure the GPU is never starved of power; how's a whopping 15-phase PWM design sound to you? In addition to that, APS (Active Phase Switching) a power-saving technology that adjusts PWM's phase mode based on GPU/memory load is deployed to help increase power efficiency. Also used are Tantalum core Hi-C capacitors for better stability at high temperatures and ultra long lifespan aluminum solid capacitors. All this means that the card can overclock to a greater extent and can do so more safely and with greater stability. And according to MSI, and we quote, reaching 1GHz at the core is "a piece of cake".

On the subject of clock speeds, in stock form, the R5870 Lightning is running 900MHz at the core (as we have mentioned) and 4800MHz DDR clock speed at the memory. This means core clock speeds have been given a 50MHz bump, whereas memory clock speeds have remained unchanged.