MSI has announced today the launch of the GeForce GTX 680 Lightning, the new queen of performance based on the Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 GPU. The MSI N680GTX Lightning uses a proprietary architecture with an unlocked digital power system, which is added to the GPU Reactor, a small plate that connects to the PCB of the card and removes up to 20% of the electrical signal noise and increases the stability of overclocking. Everything is seasoned with the famous Twin Frozr IV cooling system.
GeForce GTX 680 Lightning Features
MSI’s Lightning Edition series have some of the most effective custom jobs within the whole graphics card manufacturing industry. Even within their own range of products, in relation to their Power Edition and Hawk series, the Lightning series rules supreme when it comes to set of features. And today I’ll be looking at their most impressive result to date, the N680GTX Lightning graphics card.
The N680GTX Lightning first of all includes MSI’s new Twin Frozr IV heatsink, a GPU Reactor for extra voltage control in addition to the Triple Voltage controls and V-Check points. Additionally all the connectors are gold plated and multiple layers of metal casings were utilised to hold the custom PCB and cooling solution together.
GeForce GTX 680 Lightning Design
Starting with the huge Twin Frozr IV heatsink, the N680GTX Lightning measures just over 11-inches (or 28.5cm), so be sure your pc chassis can actually hold this behemoth from the beginning. The off the shelf GTX 680 looks puny in contrast.
Looking closely on the size, you’ll observe that the N680GTX Lightning is actually comprised of 5 layers. The custom PCB is covered with black metal plates around the front and back, followed by the chief heatsink and then the metal cover on top. The backplate has cutouts for the VRM, made for extreme cooling as heat from literally every part of the board not only travels to the metal plates all around the PCB but also the huge heatsink itself.
The heatsink has two cooling areas, using the long fins distribute evenly over the entire PCB. The 5 heatpipes actually are spreading out from the GPU contact area on the metal fins. The entire base is then cooled by two 100mm fans which are enshrouded with the metal cover on top.
A primary reason the N680GTX Lightning is so long is a result of MSI using two 8-pin power connectors rather than the two 6-pin connectors Nvidia used on reference card. The additional juice is essential for the unrestricted accessibility to the voltage control on the 12-phase PWM design.
On the back of the card you’ll spot the GPU Reactor, which is basically an additional PCB plugged in just behind the GPU so it can have extra voltage. As this extra PCB is attached onto the card itself, there’s a small plastic covering that further protrudes up from the card’s rear surface. If you’re not planning on some serious overclocking, this PCB could be detached for a regular looking behind, and also the N680GTX Lightning will function perfectly fine without this.
The BIOS switch is basically a failsafe for overclocking. You are able to switch it to the right to have an LN2 focused BIOS that has the N680GTX Lightning’s gears settings tuned for extreme overclocking.
The factory settings in the N680GTX Lightning comes with a factory overclock of 1110MHz (with 1167MHz Boost) within the core clock, while the memory continues to be the same at 6008MHz (effective). The core clock speeds for reference Nvidia design to the GTX 680 is 1006MHz (with 1058MHz Boost). That’s a factory overclock of 10% in the core clock by MSI over Nvidia.
Thanks to this cooling system it reduces the temperature up to 16 ° C compared to the reference model, while noise level is at 6.7 dBA. The MSI N680GTX Lightning uses military grade components “Military Class III“ That goes through extreme rigorous testing by independent laboratories.
The features are complemented by a 1110 MHz GPU @ GK104 (1176 MHz GPU Boost), 2048 MB of GDDR5 memory @ 6008 MHz connectivity, dual DVI, DisplayPort, HDMI, 4-Way SLI, and a TDP of 260W. If you want to know the details check back often because soon we will launch the review of the new beast of MSI.
GeForce GTX 680 Lightning Benchmarks
GeForce GTX 680 Lightning Overclocking
The N680GTX Lightning was created with extreme overclocking as the primary goal, nevertheless not everybody will have access to LN2 cooling. Even still, turning the BIOS switch from ‘Normal’ settings to ‘LN2’ setting will allow MSI Afterburner to increase the voltage headroom from a limit of +133 to +200mV.
Using this setting I actually was capable of increasing the core clock speed from 1110MHz to 1210MHz, whereas memory clocked was bumped from 6008MHz to 6108MHz (effective), resulting in an actual overclock of 9% on core clock and 1.6% on memory speeds. Your mileage may vary.
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