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MSI Z77A-G45 & Lightning GTX680 Review

The Lightning GTX680 box follows MSI’s traditional design featuring a military aircraft. It is nothing out of the ordinary, but it should get the attention of the male audience.

The box features a certificate, manual and software disc, extra length SLI connector and various converter cables.

MSI have opted for a plain dark design with two yellow stripes to add some pizazz to the design. The PCB, cooler and fans are all black. The cooler is very large and is a dual slot design.

This card features the MSI ‘GPU reactor’ at the rear, which can be removed to expose a circuit board underneath. When the GPU reactor is in place, it glows blue when the card is operating.  This additional circuit board plugs into the main PCB and provides cleaner and higher power levels and reduces ripple characteristics for the GPU.

This board features MSI Military Class III components and features voltage check points.

The card is SLI capable in 2,3 and 4 way configurations. It demands power from two 8 pin PCI E connectors.

There are two DVI ports on the back, along with an HDMI and DisplayPort connector. This is a perfect configuration of digital video connectors and covers all bases.

This is a hefty cooler, comprising 5 thick heatpipes which are connected to a nickel plated base and two racks of aluminum fins on either side of the base. The PCB (including VRM’s and GDDR5 memory) is covered with a dedicated heatsink which receives air flow from the fans above. There is an overclocking bios system switch on the board as well.

An overview of the MSI Lightning GTX680 via GPUz.

Product Nvidia GTX580 Nvidia GTX590 Nvidia GTX680 MSI Lightning GTX680
Transistors 3000m 3000m x2 3540m 3540m
Core Clock 772mhz 607mhz 1006mhz+ 1111mhz+
(1176mhz boost)
Memory clock 1002mhz 855mhz 1502mhz 1502mhz
Shaders 512 512×2 1536 1536
ROPs 48 48×2 32 32
Memory amount
3GB 3GBx2 2GB 2GB
Memory bus width 384bit 384 bit x 2 256 bit 256 bit

The MSI Lightning GTX680 is overclocked out of the box, to a 1,111 mhz core clock speed (1,176mhz boost), the 2GB of GDDR5 is running at 1,502mhz (6.0Gbps effective). The GTX680 is a formidable graphics card with 32 ROP’s, 1536 CUDA cores and the 2GB of GDDR5 memory is connected via a wide 256 bit memory interface.

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  • Xtreme

    Thats a very good value for money mobo. I didnt have a good experience with my last MSI board however so went back to ASUS.

  • EsOne

    id love a GTX680 for my system, reckon they might drop to £199 in January? :p

  • Mannucuna

    I need to upgrade my motherboard, its a Z68 and its flaky. one of the first out and my SATA ports are becoming tempremental 🙁

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