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MSI GTX780 Lightning 3GB Graphics Card Review

Rating: 9.5.

The review product today will certainly appeal to our audience who appreciate a heavily customised graphics card. The MSI GTX780 Lightning is a 20 (16+3+1) phase power solution featuring a proprietary three fan cooler with separate  controllers for each fan. As we would expect with such a flagship solution, the core has also received a substantial clock boost. Is this the ultimate GTX780 if you can afford the £599.99 asking price?

MSI have earned a solid reputation over the years for releasing some stunning high end graphics cards. The ‘Lightning' moniker signifies their Elite model, a particular favourite of those gamers with a substantial budget.

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£600 is a lot of cash for a graphics card, however the GTX Titan still retails for £800. If you only want to play games at ultra high resolutions then it does appear to be a decent saving, especially when you factor in that Nvidia partners are not allowed to touch the GTX Titan reference cooler.
Our review today will focus on gaming comparisons with the latest AMD and Nvidia beta drivers – running inside our specially designed PCSPECIALIST Kitguru test rig – which you can buy direct here. We pit the MSI GTX780 Lightning 3GB against the GTX Titan 6GB at both 1920×1080 and 2560×1600 resolutions. This will be an interesting comparison, especially with the eye candy cranked to the limits.

What about AMD ? Well until they release their new range of high performance graphics cards we are including results from the Sapphire HD7970 6GB Toxic Edition, which is one of the fastest single AMD oriented solutions you can buy – featuring a whopping core clock speed set at 1,200mhz. We already know it won't be a match for either GTX780 or GTX Titan but it will prove useful as a reference point. We contemplated including the HD7990 in our tests again but it is a dual GPU solution which was really meant to target the Nvidia GTX690 when it was released.
An overview of the hardware on test today running the latest Forceware 326.80 and Catalyst 13.10 Beta drivers.

We are using the Sapphire HD7970 6GB Toxic Edition with the BIOS switch set in the highest performance mode, running at 1,200mhz core and 1,600mhz memory (6.4Gbps effective). The HD7970 is running a Tahiti core built on the 28nm process. The 6GB of GDDR5 is connected via a wide 384 bit memory interface. It has 2,048 unifed shaders, 32 ROP's and 128 TMU's.

The MSI GTX GTX780 Lightning Edition is heavily overclocked from 863mhz core to 980mhz core, with a turbo speed of 1033mhz+. The GK110 core is built on a 28nm process. The 3GB of GDDR5 memory is running at the reference speeds of 1,502mhz (6Gbps effective) and is connected via a wide 384 bit memory interface. It has 2,304 CUDA cores, 48 ROPs and 192 TMU's.

The GTX Titan is built on the same 28nm process and also features the GK110 core. The difference is that is has 224 TMU's and 2,688 CUDA cores, a noticeable enhancement over the less expensive GTX780. The core clock speed is set at 837mhz with a turbo of 876mhz+. The GDDR5 memory hasn't been touched so it is running at the default speeds of 1,500mhz (6Gbps effective) and it is connected via a wide 384 bit memory interface.

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