Software and Overclocking

MSI Afterburner, developed by Unwinder of Rivatuner fame and currently at version 2.20 Beta 14, is the de-facto GPU overclocking utility that most enthusiasts turn to even with non MSI graphic cards. Besides offering the ability to monitor and adjust clock speeds and voltages, it features advanced screenshot and video recording functions (à la Fraps).

afterburner maxoc MSI R7970 Lightning Review

 

On the MSI R7970 Lightning, we have the ability to push the core voltage up to 1.35v (usually 1.3v or less) without encountering any screen blackouts caused by OCP (nanny state overclocking protection). We can also adjust the Aux Voltage (PLL) for an additional 30mV boost on the PCIe bus to stabilize high frequencies.

afterburner maxvolts MSI R7970 Lightning Review

 

Temperature Testing

Methodology: We set the fans to 100% and looped Unigine Heaven 3.0 on extreme settings for 10 minutes and took the maximum temperature from the ondie sensor. Ambient temperature was 18 degrees.

 

Stock Voltage Load Temps: 33 degrees celsius (WTFBBQ?!!)

We rechecked this result over and over and even the classic finger test proves its accuracy – the latest Twin Frozr IV cooler has crazy levels of efficiencies

temps stock MSI R7970 Lightning Review

 

1.35v Voltage Load Temps: 70 degrees celsius (Very Good!)

At this level of voltage on our other cards, we would have gone deaf from the screaming fans and still wouldn't get such a good result. It is worth noting that at this point the card is pushing out over 300W++ of heat so this result exhibits the Twin Frozr IV's voodooish cooling performance

temps ov MSI R7970 Lightning Review

 

Test Setup

cpuz MSI R7970 Lightning Review

 

CPU: Intel Core i7-3960X @ 4817MHz 1.52v
Motherboard: ASUS Rampage IV Extreme (Bios 1103)
Memory: G.Skills ARES 2133Mhz DDR3 16GB Kit
Power Supply: Antec True Quattro Pro 1200W
Storage: Intel 520 series 250GB SSD
Graphics Cards / Drivers:

8.960 beta drivers:

MSI R7970 Lightning 3GB

AMD Reference Radeon HD 7970 3GB

Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 OC Edition

 

296.10 WHQL drivers:

ASUS GTX580 DirectCU II 1.5GB