MSI N480GTX Lightning Review EXCLUSIVE

Conclusion

MSI N480GTX Lightning Review

Conclusion

If you're the kind of reader who zips straight here then you might be wondering how the MSI N480GTX Lightning will fare under the scrutiny of the OC3D guys.

If you read the review though, you already know exactly what we think.

The MSI N480GTX Lightning is epic. Brilliant. Amazing. The fastest single-GPU on the planet by a huge margin.

It overclocks well, and far better than the reference design. But even better it runs both stock and overclocked MUCH cooler than its reference counterpart. Almost icing on the cake is how quiet it is, and believe us when we say it's quiet. At stock it's as quiet as a reference HD5870 which isn't exactly loud. If you are used to running the nVidia design then switching to the MSI will probably make you think you've gone deaf.

28157 P-Score for the overclocked Lightning is exactly what the GTX480 should have been when it was first released.

In fact if there is one overriding impression we've had from the MSI N480GTX Lightning it's this :

nVidia, What the hell were you doing??

A multi-billion dollar company that took seemingly forever managed to produce a brutally hot, ear-splittingly loud, under-performing card that was the biggest disappointment since Daikatana.

MSI on the other hand have taken a design that isn't exactly new and with a bit of tweaking managed to give us exactly what the GTX480 should have been in the first place. Cool, quiet and faster than a top-fuel dragster.

The Twin Frozr III cooler is so brilliant that we reckon if MSI offered it as a separate upgrade for owners of the reference GTX480 they couldn't make them fast enough such would be the demand.

Sure it's a little more expensive than the current GTX480 pricing, but it's actually on a par with where the 480 was upon release with an expected street price of about £430. Considering the price of a standard 480 and an extra cooler it's a bargain. Once you factor in how much extra it does and that even at stock it tramples on an overclocked GTX480, it's a no brainer.

Finally we have a GTX480 that does what we all hoped it would. If you're in the market for one of nVidias beasts, this is the only one to buy. If you already own a GTX480, sell it and buy one of these.

Seriously. It's brilliant.

And that's why today OC3D are reviewing something that genuinely is worth lusting over, rather than a re-badged something else. Although come back tomorrow if you want to read all about that.

 

    

Thanks to MSI for providing the N480GTX Lightning for test. Discuss in our forums

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Most Recent Comments

21-10-2010, 11:33:18

tinytomlogan
MSI have taken the famous Twin Frozr II cooler, modified it and applied it on the nVidia GTX480. Can it finally tame the Fermi Furnace?

Continue Reading

21-10-2010, 11:46:04

F-alienware
Mmmmm. I find that cooler seriously arousing lol.

Pricey though.

21-10-2010, 12:02:19

hmmblah
About time someone applied this kind of cooling to a 480. Fermi would have a much better name now if this was how it was released.

Really strange to see cool, quiet, and 480 in the same review .

21-10-2010, 12:12:29

Heebs
I would be curious to see how the Frozr III compares to the Frozr II that MSI already has on a 480 gtx.

Good to see that someone finally tamed the beast of the 480. Sales for that sucker should go up.

21-10-2010, 12:15:13

Alicarve
hmm may have gone for this if i hadn't just bought my 2 gtx 460s

21-10-2010, 12:30:45

AMDFTW
WOW thats fantstic

21-10-2010, 12:57:35

andyvee
Couple of questions for you

it looks like its a 2 slot card , can you confirm .

How is the cooling working , are the fans pulling in and venting out the back or is it dumping all the hot air into the case .

Presuming the above is good news , would this be much better or about the same as my current setup of 2*gtx280's in sli .

Thanx .

21-10-2010, 13:01:48

thestepster
nice review id also like to see how it matches up the II version

21-10-2010, 13:04:44

AMDFTW
Quote:
Originally Posted by andyvee View Post

Couple of questions for you

it looks like its a 2 slot card , can you confirm .

How is the cooling working , are the fans pulling in and venting out the back or is it dumping all the hot air into the case .

Presuming the above is good news , would this be much better or about the same as my current setup of 2*gtx280's in sli .

Thanx .
it will port some out the back but most of it will be in the case

but still cooler than 2 280's

21-10-2010, 13:13:21

tinytomlogan
It does put most of the heat into the case, but with a decent case it will be way better than the 280's dude.

21-10-2010, 13:20:21

ZodiarK
is it weird i can listen to another guy talking for 12mins+? lol

luvly looking card their mate, but with the 6000 nearing they probably wont get much of a look in, price depending.

21-10-2010, 13:33:24

AMDFTW
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZodiarK View Post

is it weird i can listen to another guy talking for 12mins+? lol

luvly looking card their mate, but with the 6000 nearing they probably wont get much of a look in, price depending.
yer a lil bit,i mean its not like i watch the same vids over and over

21-10-2010, 13:42:40

Heebs
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZodiarK View Post

is it weird i can listen to another guy talking for 12mins+? lol

luvly looking card their mate, but with the 6000 nearing they probably wont get much of a look in, price depending.
lol I love how people are assuming the 6000 series will destroy the 400 gtx series without so much as seeing a real benchmark or price.

21-10-2010, 14:14:04

Alicarve
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZodiarK View Post

is it weird i can listen to another guy talking for 12mins+? lol
lmao i never thought of it that way before

21-10-2010, 14:32:59

I Hunta x
From stuff ive seen around and about the 6000's are just rehashes of the 5000's, mabey 5-10% more performance at best, if they were realy hot like the 400 cards and the rehash made them cool for example it woulda made sense but tbh there already cool enough so a rehash seems kinda pointless.

21-10-2010, 14:43:52

andyvee
Quote:
Originally Posted by AMDFTW View Post

it will port some out the back but most of it will be in the case

but still cooler than 2 280's
Great thanks for that , thinking i may go for 1 of these but will wait a week or 2 just in case the new Ati's have any suprises ( although i am the same as you in that i mostly bat for team green since the old 6800 days ) , saying that not available yet , any idea when and where ? .

21-10-2010, 15:31:39

ZodiarK
Quote:
Originally Posted by Heebs View Post

lol I love how people are assuming the 6000 series will destroy the 400 gtx series without so much as seeing a real benchmark or price.
are fanbois not supposed to assume?

21-10-2010, 16:19:38

steve30x
Overclocked thats as loud as my two GTX470s at stock clocks while gaming lol. I need to change the coolers on my GPU's to better and quieter coolers. I cant OC my GPU's either because theyre already at 80c and 86C.

21-10-2010, 20:40:30

cnf
so when is this card out in the uk then guys ? thanks

22-10-2010, 22:58:58

AMDFTW
tom what monitor do you use in the vids

26-10-2010, 05:58:58

tombman
Why NV didn't come up with that kind of cooler and pcb in the first place, you ask?

PRICE!

Release prices would have been like 700 Euros, not 500 Euros!

Now, was that so difficult to figure out?

Of course NV would have been able to design such a cooler and pcb, but they had to watch the total costs too.

MSI just built an extreme enthusiasts card with practically no price limit- EASY

26-10-2010, 06:44:54

F-alienware
Quote:
Originally Posted by tombman View Post

Release prices would have been like 700 Euros, not 500 Euros!
The Arctic triple costs 50 retail. That's with Arctic making a profit out of it.

Where are you getting an extra 200 euros from? because that would pretty much buy a GPU water cooling system.

26-10-2010, 07:29:02

tinytomlogan
Hmmmmmmmm Nvidia fanboy alert. The Frozr is cheaper than the AC to produce aswell. Some people cant accept the fact the 480 cooler was a POS and they should have sorted it with all the extra time they had.

Also the Lightning isnt that expensive either even though its cram packed with better kit than the reference 480.

26-10-2010, 07:40:23

F-alienware
TBH Tom and I have thought about this hard..

The actual radiator and pipes on a stock 470 cooler look pretty good. I reakon it's nothing more than a fan problem tbh. I'm very tempted to remove the shroud (as it comes off in a few parts, very nice and modular) and strap a 120mm fan to the actual cooler and see what happens. If it's good I can easily make a shroud out of alu sheeting and possibly put twin 92mm fans in it. It's got to be better than the crappy blower.

Centrifugal fans only work well when -

There is enough pressure to boost air through. This means that the shroud would need to be 100% sealed and the fan seriously powerful.. Not possible on 12v. Maybe a blower from a car heating system yes lmao. It isn't, not by a long shot.

Looking at the heatsink on this wonderful MSI card the sink itself it's that much larger than a stock 470 cooler (the actual metal part).

Oh and FWIW I think this card here on review is actually very cheap. It would be one thing to whack a cooler on a 480 and over charge for it, but this one has had a complete bloody revamp, new board, new layout.

26-10-2010, 09:29:00

tinytomlogan
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlienALX View Post

TBH Tom and I have thought about this hard..

The actual radiator and pipes on a stock 470 cooler look pretty good. I reakon it's nothing more than a fan problem tbh. I'm very tempted to remove the shroud (as it comes off in a few parts, very nice and modular) and strap a 120mm fan to the actual cooler and see what happens. If it's good I can easily make a shroud out of alu sheeting and possibly put twin 92mm fans in it. It's got to be better than the crappy blower.

Centrifugal fans only work well when -

There is enough pressure to boost air through. This means that the shroud would need to be 100% sealed and the fan seriously powerful.. Not possible on 12v. Maybe a blower from a car heating system yes lmao. It isn't, not by a long shot.

Looking at the heatsink on this wonderful MSI card the sink itself it's that much larger than a stock 470 cooler (the actual metal part).

Oh and FWIW I think this card here on review is actually very cheap. It would be one thing to whack a cooler on a 480 and over charge for it, but this one has had a complete bloody revamp, new board, new layout.
That will look like such a bodge. At the end of the day it should have been better from stock, thats kinda the point.

26-10-2010, 10:06:09

hmmblah
The 470 stock cooler is the first cooler I haven't replaced. My last few cards I replaced the coolers even before using the cards. The 9800 pro had an absolutely horrid stock cooler and caused premature deaths of those cards. I'd go as far to say that the 470 has the best stock cooler of any reference card produced. The build quality is impressive, definitely not what I have come to expect on a reference card.

26-10-2010, 13:14:27

F-alienware
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinytomlogan View Post

That will look like such a bodge. At the end of the day it should have been better from stock, thats kinda the point.
I totally agree about the better from the start comment. The fan is absolutely bloody lousy.

I'll see how temps go but trust me when I say it wouldn't look bodged. I have a mate close by (same county) with a press break haha.

26-10-2010, 15:51:26

tinytomlogan
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlienALX View Post

I totally agree about the better from the start comment. The fan is absolutely bloody lousy.

I'll see how temps go but trust me when I say it wouldn't look bodged. I have a mate close by (same county) with a press break haha.
See if Im honest for all that hassle id buy a purpose made cooler or just buy a better card in the first place

26-10-2010, 16:08:48

F-alienware
Well the card itself is fantastic. The noise levels are far better than the 5770s too. I suppose a good aftermarket cooler would allow for whacking great overclocks but I'm not sure I need them tbh.

08-11-2010, 05:30:44

Zeals
Hey since it has a display port does that mean you can run the Nvidia version of Eyefinity on one card? Or do you still need two?

As in triple monitors, 2 in DVI and 1 with the display port using one of those active display port adapters
Reply
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