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MSI R5870 Lightning Review

Rating: 9.0.

The ATI HD5870 video card redefined high end gaming when it was released many months ago, taking the performance crown as the fastest single core solution on the market. Even though nVidia have knocked it off the number one perch with the GTX480, many enthusiasts still prefer the HD5870 thanks to the lower power drain and cooler temperatures. This has left the market wide open for a variety of enhanced cards from many manufacturers and we recently looked at several, such as the XFX HD5870 Black Edition.

Today we get the chance to analyse a product with some jaw dropping specifications, the MSI R5870 Lightning. This card has a custom PCB design and incorporates the worlds first 15 phase PWM design to offer higher levels of overclocking and stability. This is why they cranked it to 900mhz on the core (+50mhz on reference design) and 1200mhz on the memory (4.8GBps effective).

To help deal with temperatures they have also included a twin fan ‘Twin Frozr II cooler’ with nickel plated copper base and dual heatpipes. This card also offers 10 year life solid capacitor design with aluminum cores and solid state chokes with ‘no buzz noise’ under load.

No only that but MSI have included V check points which overclockers can use to read voltages, direct from the card with a multimeter. We don’t think we have ever seen such a loaded design, so lets list the specifications then take a closer look.

  • 1GB GDDR5 memory
  • ATI Eyefinity technology with support for up to six displays
  • ATI Stream technology
  • Designed for DirectCompute 5.0 and OpenCL
  • Accelerated Video Transcoding (AVT)
  • Compliant with DirectX 11 and earlier revisions
  • Supports OpenGL 3.1
  • ATI CrossFireX™ multi-GPU support for highly scalable performance
  • ATI Avivo™ HD video and display technology
  • Dynamic power management with ATI PowerPlay technology
  • DL-DVI, DL-DVI, DisplayPort, HDMI
  • PCI Express® 2.0 support
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    • Tech Head

      Good god man, its alive. that is a mental card, it appears to have been out for a while, how come ive never heard about it ! ME WANT!

    • eric k

      That is stunning , simply stunning. Sapphire must be worried if MSI keep these up !

    • daz

      that overclock is insane, over 1ghz on the core? bloody hell man.

    • tom

      1ghz on the core and what the hell on the memory ! I need a silverstone raven 02 for my setup too!

    • terry

      £20 more than a reference design? ill have it. if I could afford it :p

    • Tri Color

      Just ordered one, ill post a picture of my receipt on the forums 🙂

    • Dilbert

      That is one mega mega board. I love all the work they put into the hardware rather than just slapping a crappy cooler on it.

    • AMD4EVER

      Who the hell needs a GTX480 when you got one of these, or two in Crossfire. If anyone here as two of them in Crossfire, ill be green.

    • larry and mo

      Power drain is quite high but what a card that is. well worth the money.

    • robert

      Wonder if I could get a deal on a Crossfire setup !

    • francois lebon

      ITs a really nice design and normally these cards really dont appeal to me at all.

    • breaker

      Bit out of my price league but great review, really enjoyed that one.

    • simone

      seems well priced considering. Ill get one when they drop to 200 quid.

    • Kyle Reese

      MSI are seriously underrated at times, all the attention goes to Sapphire. some of their motherboards are wicked good.

    • Kyle Reese

      Love lovely lovely. ill have one 🙂

    • Trev Mang

      What a design that is. nice to see other companies doing these apart from asus. its actually quite affordable too, considering.

    • Dax

      temps seem good, power consumption is high, but nothing compared to GTX480

    • bret

      would have liked to see some compares with GTX480 🙂

    • Dilbert

      ITs way out of my price range, but if I had money to buy a HD4870 id get this for sure, absolutely !

    • tim

      Great review man, I wonder how many people actually buy these cards. they seem way expensive.

    • fluffychicken

      Nice review, cheers. what a great card. shall discuss it with you on the forums

    • mick

      Impressive design from the ground up, dont often see that kind of attention to detail.

    • fred

      Right, ive been looking at all these cards this month and im getting sick of it, having a crappy old GTX250. just ordered this, time to warn the wife.

    • tom blown

      I still think the sapphire vapor is nicer.

    • Hank the tank

      Would like to buy one of these myself, but hey im poor 🙁

    • brank

      how cool is the LED strip on the back of the PCB? wicked man.

    • Dauth Maul

      shit if only I had a credit card, id buy one of these puppies

    • Ray

      Love the cooler, wonder who made that for them? arctic cooling maybe?

    • dark knight

      Nah its not arctic cooling, they dont make metal coolers like that. maybe MSI internal one.

    • Ray

      MSI make coolers? I thought all these companies farmed out jobs like that to specialists.

    • i love porn movies

      Nah arctic cooling only do that if their name stays on the cooler. this is not them for sure.

    • gareth cringle

      I really enjoyed that review. i always like reading about hardware I can’t afford 🙂

    • Tommy Fran

      power consumption is high, but two 12 pin feeds would explain that. this card is sucking some serious wattage.

    • Rockstar lover

      It is my dream to play GTA4 at 2560 on a HD5870. I shall have my dream in the next 2 months 🙂

    • hairy beast

      Good temps, for the power intake. Love the board.

    • sexy

      nice card indeed. great clocks too. I didnt think it was possible to hit 1ghz on core on air.

    • Droughtlouder

      MSI FTW with this beast. love the cooler too. like the pictures, turned otu well.

    • Steven

      very interesting indeed. the 8mm heatpipes are certainly good ideas. they are normally 6mm right?

    • drystone

      Nvidia really are not making much ground on older tech hardware. HD5870 is still kicking n screaming.

    • Rubbins

      They really should have overclocked this card more out of the box, dont you think?

    • Terrance

      its very interesting to see the 8mm pipes. those are much thicker than the normal design, id love to know who makes the cooler for MSI. thats not an internal design, specialist job.

    • Fraline

      wonder what the thermal limit on those cards is? 105c like nvidia GTX480?

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