MSI GTX 780 Lightning 3 GB 48

MSI GTX 780 Lightning 3 GB Review

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A Closer Look

MSI's new cooler uses two 90 mm fans on the outside and a yellow 80 mm fan in the middle. Running at the same speed, both black fans are controlled by the GPU temperature, and the yellow fan depends on the PWM temperature. The massive heatsink uses seven heatpipes to quickly transport heat away from the GPU and to the two large fin stacks.

The front of the card (with the GPU) is covered by a secondary metal heatsink cooling the memory chips and voltage regulation circuitry. You can swap this heatsink out for the shorter heatsink MSI included to free up some space in the GPU area. Doing so will still cool the voltage circuitry when watercooling or using liquid nitrogen.

MSI installed a metal backplate on the back of the card, which helps protect the card from damage during handling.

The card requires two 8-pin PCI-Express power connectors. This configuration is good for up to 375 W of power draw.

Three available voltage measurement points make monitoring voltage very easy for hardcore overclockers.

This Dual-BIOS switch is used to activate the second BIOS optimized for liquid nitrogen use. It comes with a significantly increased power limit but uses default clocks, so some manual tweaking will be required. The second BIOS will also come in handy for when something goes wrong with a BIOS flash and your main BIOS is corrupted.

We've seen MSI's GPU Reactor on several cards now. It provides additional filtering for GPU voltage, which might improve the card's overclocking potential. I haven't seen any actual evidence of it really improving clocks, but its effects on voltage can be measured. Instead of the previous blue theme, MSI has chosen a darker color this time around, which makes it look less plasticky.

MSI uses two voltage controllers on their card. GPU voltage is managed by a CHiL 8318 providing software voltage control and a lot of monitoring features. The second controller seems to be responsible for memory voltage, and it also offers voltage control and monitoring. Both are great choices that will make the lives of overclockers much easier.

The GDDR5 memory chips are made by Elpida and carry model number W2032BBBG-60-F. They are specified to run at 1500 MHz (6000 MHz GDDR5 effective). I find it surprising that Elpida instead of Samsung or Hynix chips are used, since the latter two overclock better. While MSI made no official statement, comments have pointed to a general shortage of GDDR5 memory chips, with Elpida as the only ones available in volume.

NVIDIA's GK110 graphics processor was first introduced as a Tesla-only product for powering demanding GPU compute applications. NVIDIA has now also released it as a GeForce GPU. It uses 7.1 billion transistors on a die size that we measured to be 561 mm². The GPU is produced on a 28 nanometer process at TSMC, Taiwan.
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