MSI has been steadily improving their video cards and the companies hard work and attention to details is finally starting to pay off. The MSI R7970 Lighting is a great example of what a company can do with a video card when they get their custom design right. The 1070 MHz core clock speed on the MSI R7970 Lighting is also very impressive.
To our knowledge the MSI R7970 Lighting is the fastest clocked AMD Radeon HD 7970 offered by any company, so right off the bat it doesn’t get any better than this card. It’s also a dual-slot card, so it won’t take up three slots like the ASUS HD 7970 DirectCU II graphics card.
Overclocking the MSI R7970 Lighting was a blast and the fact that we could take it from 1070 MHz on the core all the way up to 1275 MHz was impressive. AMD released the Radeon HD 7970 with a 925 MHz core clock, so this is a 350 MHz overclock on the core! This card was really fun to overclock on air, so we can only imagine what those with LN2 pots will be able to hit!
When it comes to pricing the MSI R7970 Lighting costs $599.99, which is $50 more than a standard AMD Radeon HD 7970 reference design. This is a substantial amount of money, but at the end of the day we feel it is worth it. For an extra $50 you get a fully custom card from the ground up and the overclocking results speak for themselves. To run a Radeon HD 7970 ‘Tahiti’ GPU at 1275 MHz with the fan on auto is a testament to how well done this card is. The Twin Frozr IV GPU cooler with the two 100mm cooling fans isn’t the quietest solution out there, but it works really well!
Unfortunately for cards like this the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 came out this month as well and they perform on par with this overclocked card and cost only $499. When the MSI R7970 Lighting was overclocked to the max we hit ~P10300 in 3DMark11, which is just ahead of the P9767 score of the GeForce GTX 680 with stock settings. When you overclock that card the performance shoots up to ~P11000. For $100 less and with better performance numbers across the board it really takes the shine off of cards like the MSI R7970 Lighting.
That said, the MSI R7970 Lighting is an amazing graphics card and if you are loyal to AMD or just like Radeon HD 7970 cards it is an easy choice to make. There isn’t anything that we would change on this card and if you are running a 30-inch monitor at 2560×1600 it looks appealing.
Legit Bottom Line: The MSI R7970 Lighting is a well designed video card that is faster than any other Radeon HD 7970 out of the box and it still has a ton of overclocking headroom left in it!