MSI GTX980Ti Lightning Review
The MSI Lightning range has hitherto been aimed squarely at the highest quality overclockers. With good, but not spectacular, stock speeds but plenty of headroom to make the most of it, it's achieved many records and been high on the agenda of those people looking for the best possible benchmarks.
The GTX980Ti Lightning has a slightly different ethos. Rather than have all the high-end components that give plenty of headroom that you must squeeze from it, the GTX980Ti Lightning uses those premium parts to be blisteringly fast out of the box. Given the amount of people who just buy the best graphics card they can afford and then fit it and play, rather than spend the day tweaking things, this is actually a good decision. Our graphs back up this change towards amazing factory-fitted performance with the Lightning finding itself either at the top of our graphs or certainly amongst the top performing models. Only the ASUS Strix consistently challenged it.
It isn't just all about performance either as the card looks fantastic. Yellow is always a welcome change from the sea of red hardware that passes through our offices every day and the decision to surround the fans with "OC" is a welcome, if unexpected, touch of levity. The cooler isn't all show either as it is supremely quiet thanks to three fans keeping the airflow working even at low revolutions and the temperatures are equally low. The only problem with the yellow now is MSI do not have a matching branded motherboard so the lightning stand out of the crowd even more than usual. The RGB lights are obviously a nice touch but we firmly believe they would sell vast more quantaties of this card if you had comstomisable panels where you had black as the standard colour and you could add your own blue, red, white, green panels to suit your own system. If MSI had addressed this point it would have been a total slam dunk.
When a card performs this well there is little need to say much more. The performance is staggeringly good although you will be required to part with almost 660 of your hard earned beer tokens. The MSI GTX980Ti Lightning continues the trend of high-end MSI cards bestriding the world like a colossus and achieves our OC3D Performance Award.