MSI GTX 1080 Ti Lightning Review
Published: 3rd July 2017 | Source: MSI | Price: |
In our time with the GTX 1080 Ti we've spoken seemingly endlessly about how good it is, even if you buy a bog standard model. There is just so much performance on that Pascal GPU that a company would almost have to deliberately attempt to build a bad one for it to be unworthy of our recommendation.
We've also seen - from cards such as the Corsair Hydro and ASUS Poseidon - how much cooling can affect the overall performance. The nVidia GPU Boost technology has been refined to the point that the more thermal headroom you can obtain the better your gaming performance will be. The combination of these two factors mean that we expect the best GTX 1080 Ti's to be ones that have liquid cooling, with the air-cooled models fighting amongst themselves for the runners up spot.
Oh we of little faith.
The MSI Lightning not only manages to be better than the other air-cooled GTX 1080 Ti's that we've reviewed, it was regularly better than the water-cooled ones too. Sure it might come with a seriously hefty three-slot cooler, but that isn't just for show. The cool temperatures remain stable throughout no matter how long you've been running the test, which mean that the average boost clocks are very close to the peak speeds, giving insane performance in every benchmark. Even better, it's not a case of the cooler being good enough to keep it cool until the GPU Boost kicks in and does its thing. No siree. Even with the nVidia Forceware thrashing the card as hard as it can, we saw the lowest temperatures we've seen from anything other than the water-cooled Poseidon.
So it's hilariously fast and seriously cool. It's also built like a tank. There is no flex, no wobble, nothing at all that is anything other than a premium component. If MSI had told us it was hewn from granite we wouldn't have been surprised. The lighting is excellent with large sections dedicated to showing the best RGB choices that you make, whilst the changeable accents mean that you can have a card which totally reflects your personal style.
The MSI GTX 1080 Ti Lightning isn't just the best air-cooled Pascal card we've reviewed, it's the best graphics card we've reviewed full stop. Cool, quiet, looks the business, built like a brick outhouse and goes faster than a thoroughbred race horse.