|MSI GeForce GTX 680 Lightning Video Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Monday, 09 July 2012|
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MSI GeForce GTX 680 Lightning Video Card
Manufacturer: Micro-Star International (MSI)
Full Disclosure: MSI provided the product sample used in this article.
Now that the Kepler drought has finally eased, NVIDIA's retail partners can start providing the overclocked and top-spec'd versions of their GTX 680 video cards. GPUs typically have some exploitable "headroom" in their clock frequency and power specifications, and often all a vendor needs to do to make use of this headroom is outfit the card with an improved cooler.
Kepler-based cards make this proposition more difficult than it has historically been since NVIDIA's reference cooler is very good: effectively and quiet. It's not that absolute best that can be done within a two-slot form factor, but it's much closer to that ideal than it has been in the past, and it's helped by the fact that Kepler GPUs are much less power-hungry than previous generations. Less power means less heat, which makes the card easier to cool.
Not that MSI would be content with anything so mundane as just a new cooler for their Lightning product lineup. While they do offer variants of the GTX 680 with their signature Twin Frozr cooling system as the sole distinguishing feature, the N680GTX Lightning is built upon a completely new custom PCB that owes nothing to NVIDIA's reference design.
With greatly enhanced power circuitry as well as mil-spec components and an unlocked BIOS, impressive overclocks should be possible...and you should expect them given the card's substantial price premium over a reference design GTX 680.