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MSI R7970 Lightning Graphics Card Review (Twin Frozr IV)

Rating: 9.0.

In the last month AMD’s partners have been unveiling their custom cooled graphics cards and we have already reviewed the latest Dual X HD7970 Overclock Edition from Sapphire and the HD7970 X Edition from VTX3D. Today we are looking at MSI’s flagship R7970 Lightning with custom twin fan cooler and proprietary PCB design.

MSI tend to bring their graphics cards to market later, much like ASUS. If past experiences are anything to go by however, the wait is normally worth it.

The MSI R7970 Lightning is a highly modified solution, with pre-overclocked speeds ‘out of the box’ and custom PCB design. This card uses the latest version of the Twin Frozr metal cooler which started development in 2009.

The R7970 Lightning ships with a whopping overclock on the core – from 925mhz to 1,070mhz.

Product MSI R7970 Lightning AMD HD7950 AMD HD7870 AMD HD7850
Core Clock speed 925mhz
(1070mhz)
800mhz 1000mhz 860mhz
Transistors 4.31 billion 4.31 billion 2.8 billion 2.8 billion
Stream Processors 2,048 1,792 1,280 1,024
Compute Performance 3.79 TFLOPS 2.87 TFLOPS 2.56 TFLOPS 1.76 TFLOPS
Texture Units 128 112 80 64
Texture Fillrate 118.4 GT/s 89.6 GT/s 80 GT/s 55.0 GT/s
ROPs 32 32 32 32
Pixel Fillrate 29.6 GP/s 25.6 GP/s 32.0 GP/s 27.52 GP/s
Z/Stencil 128 128 128 128
Memory Type 3GB GDDR5 3GB GDDR5 2GB GDDR5 2GB GDDR5
Memory Clock 1,375mhz
(1,400mhz)
1,250mhz 1,200mhz 1,200mhz
Memory Data Rate 5.5 GBps
(5.6Gbps)
5.0 Gbps 4.8 Gbps 4.8 Gbps
Memory Bandwidth 264 GB/s 240 GB/s 153.6 GB/s 153.6 GB/s

Above, the clock increases in bold. The memory overclock is modest – 25mhz (100 mhz effective) faster than the reference clocked card. However the core receives a huge increase of 145mhz to 1,070mhz. This should have a significant impact on the results.

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  • Joe

    Lovely, very nice, and yet again very expensive……… we can only dream!

  • Muppett

    Wow… so thats £500 for a card with no copper used as a cooling material, and Aluminum used instead,
    thats a less ductile material = an inferior cooling solution, using a cheapr material for more money…

    MSI really know how to impress – or charge more for using cheaper materials!!!

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  • Benjamin

    Good point from muppett, copper might have improved on the results by 1-2 c more.

    however, the end result is great as the testing shows.

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  • neliz

    @muppet:

    Actually the Cooler material is copper, but it’s nickel coated, so it doesn’t corrode (very, VERY easy with copper)
    Only the fin array is made of Aluminium

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  • Progeny

    I take it 12.3 drivers were used for this test and the other custom 7970’s?