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MSI N260GTX Lightning Black Edition review

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The MSI N260GTX Lightning Black Edition

The MSI N260GTX Lightning Black Edition

Following in the footsteps of Palit's GeForce GTX 260 Sonic 216 SP, the first GTX 200 class graphics card to utilize a custom cooler, the MSI N260 Lightning also has a custom cooler stamped on top of it, aptly named "Twin Frozr". The Twin Frozr sports dual-fans and has five heat pipes, which ensures faster dissipation of heat away from the GPU. And in true military tradition, MSI says that even if one fan breaks down, the other will continue to work. Though we didn't try this feature, to add on, the cooler is quiet at low loads. However, once the card is seriously taxed, it can momentarily work itself into frantic spin, at which point it becomes fairly loud and distracting.

The AirForce Panel can be used on your desk or installed onto your system's 5.25-inch bay and it works in tandem with the Lightning software that must be installed. With the Lightning software installed, the AirForce Panel will allow you to make adjustments to your card's voltage and clock speeds by the mere press of a button. It sounds easy on paper, but it is actually harder in practice. The Lightning software seemed a bit buggy and slow to respond. While it is easy to increase the clock speeds and voltage by means of the AirForce Panel, there's no real way of knowing what the new exact values are. Furthermore, you can only adjust these settings by fixed steps, thus depriving overclockers the ability to fine tune their setup. If it's any consolation, this Lightning software utility is still in its early phases, and the folks at MSI have said that they will be fine tuning it further to get the best out of it. But this still does not detract from the fact that the AirForce Panel comes across as more gimmicky than useful.

Here's a whole list of what the card came with:

  • Driver CD
  • Quick installation guide
  • User Manual
  • AirForce Panel
  • 1 x DVI to HDMI adapter
  • 1 x VGA to DVI adapter
  • 1 x S/PDIF connector