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MSI Z77A-G45 & Lightning GTX680 Review

Many gamers may be looking for a system upgrade heading into 2013 and both the MSI Z77A-G45 and Lightning GTX680 are as good as you are likely to find at their respective price points.

The MSI Lightning GTX680 is undoubtedly an expensive graphics card – at £439.99 inc vat it will certainly cause a noticeable dent on a bank balance. This isn’t unique to MSI however, a GTX680 purchase is only for a small audience who take their gaming very seriously. It is worth reiterating that this Lightning card does compare well against other flagship cards from the likes of ASUS or KFA2.

The nickel plated copper cooler is very capable indeed, joining the market leaders in the top 5% of thermal and acoustic performance. The non aggressive two fan cooler profile will ensure that noise is never a concern either. You get the best of both worlds from the Lightning GTX680 – low noise operation and excellent cooling proficiency.

Gaming performance is without reproach, even with the latest intensive Direct X 11 games which we tested today. Far Cry 3 runs well with extremely high image quality settings at 1080p with anti aliasing enabled … one of the more demanding games we have tested recently.

MSI supply the Lightning GTX680 in a high state of overclock and there is clearly some additional headroom as we managed to push our review sample to 1,200mhz core and 1,710mhz via the GDDR5 memory. We need to point out that every card will overclock differently but even if we factor in a slight variable on limitations, our sample indicates that MSI are not pushing the design close to the limit. This is a good thing, long term.

Not many people would be contemplating pairing the cost effective MSI Z77A-G45 with a flagship Lightning GTX680, however we have shown today that this motherboard deserves serious consideration. Certainly the MSI Z77A-G45 connectivity will not compete with a high end Z77 motherboard priced at £200 and above, but when it comes to overclocking this board can rock with the best of them.

We managed to drive our Core i7 3770k sample to 4.8ghz with only a couple of bios changes and an all in one mainstream liquid cooler. Higher clock speeds would be possible if you were willing to live with increased temperatures and voltage parameters. The board also supports the latest 2,666mhz rated memory. This is as good as any board we have tested to date, regardless of the price point. At only £104.99 inc vat this is easily one of the best buy deals you can get right now.

Gamers should be aware that a graphics card is the primary component in their system. Our review today highlights that the MSI Z77A-G45 can handle a high overclock while not costing the earth. Pairing this board with a 3570k or 3770k means that a little more budget could be directed towards the graphics card.

Both MSI Z77A-G45 & Lightning GTX680 are great components and a perfect high note for MSI to end the year.

Kitguru says: Both products are class leading and well worth a purchase.

Rating: 9.0.

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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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