MSI R7970 Lightning Review

👤by Richard Weatherstone Comments 📅18-02-13

First let's get the bad news out of the way.

By not including a DualLink DVI port MSI have abandoned those who use a large monitor. We would be happy to overlook this if an included Active DVI-Displayport adapter was included in the package but sadly it is not. It will cost you an additional 140 to buy one! While MSI excuse this by offering full Eyefinity support, this doesn't quite make sense either because 'out of the box', the R7970 lightning won't support six screens without additional cables as only one passive miniDP to full DP adaptor is included. So it offers neither camp full functionality as it stands and users will have to buy additional cables and adaptors should the wish to run either setup which is less than ideal.

If you care little for older monitor support or 6 screen Eyefinity then what we have here is a rocket of a card.

The MSI R7970 Lightning is exactly that - lightning fast. At stock (factory overclocked) levels
it was already among the quickest cards we had tested. Load up the new CAT 13.1 drivers and it topped the tables, to concrete its claim as the fastest card further we overclocked it to silly levels which coupled with the 13.1 drivers simply blew us away. Performance in every title was sublime and the new Catalyst drivers showed some very good improvements over the drivers from a year ago.

This card is a dream to overclock if you're a novice or top the HWBOT charts. There are three voltage read points which give higher accuracy than using a software based utility. A dual BIOS functionality is also afforded which will allow you to keep the LN2 BIOS, back up the stock BIOS or try out a custom BIOS. This coupled with the awesome power on tap to stabilise those high overclocks makes this card one of the best cards for overclocking out there in our opinion.

The card is packaged well, looks great, cools to chilly levels and as already stated is one of, if not the fastest single core card we have tested to date. DualLink issues aside there is very little not to like about the MSI R7970. Even the price has dropped to more reasonable levels from a steep 450 upon release which will make the choice between this or a card from the green team even more difficult.

Choosing an award for this card was a difficult choice. Were it not for the DVI issues then it would justify our very highest Platinum and Elite awards, however we have to consider that as the card is aimed at high end users and thus we simply cannot forgive the DualLink DVI oversight, even with full 6 screen Eyefinity offered in exchange. So, when all areas are considered, the MSI R7970 Lightning will have to settle for an 'almost perfect' Gold award.

+ Ultimate GPU overclocking
+ Very Good packaging
+ Excellent cooling performance and looks
+ Very Quiet

- No Dual Link DVI Support
- Power Hungry

Click here for an explanation of our awards at

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