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MSI GTX 780 Lightning

A Closer Look at the MSI GTX 780 Lightning

MSI GTX 780 Lightning1 MSI GTX 780 Lightning2

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The Lightning 780 box is really huge and heavy, and I don’t mean just a little bulk extra weight it is actually very heavy. The front of the box carries a jet fighter and the slogan “Built to be Perfect” and honestly after seeing previous lightning models I have no problem saying that this is a perfect tagline for the lightning series.

The rear of the box has some in depth spec detailing along with brief covering of the Military Class components.

MSI GTX 780 Lightning3 MSI GTX 780 Lightning4MSI GTX 780 Lightning6MSI GTX 780 Lightning5MSI GTX 780 Lightning12 MSI GTX 780 Lightning11 MSI GTX 780 Lightning10 MSI GTX 780 Lightning9 MSI GTX 780 Lightning8 MSI GTX 780 Lightning7

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The MSI GTX 780 Lightning has an immense amount of included items but first I must talk about the box inside the outer shell which turned out to be nothing more than a thin protective layer as this card has come in another box which closely resembles a nicely made jewelry box.

Inside the top lid you find the card, in the lower pull out drawer you find the box holding the accessories. The accessories that come with the lightning are:

  • LN2 VRM/MOSFET heatsink plate
  • Long SLI Bridge
  • Screws
  • DVI>VGA Adapter
  • V-Checkpoint Leads
  • two 6Pin > 8pin adapter cables
  • Driver Disc
  • Quick Guide
  • Military Class 4 Documentation

As you can see the bundle is very complete and the collectors box it all comes in was very impressive to me as it is super sturdy and just gives you a feel you bought something very special.

MSI 780 Lightning Technical3 MSI 780 Lightning Technical13

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The Lightning really is a sight to behold as it is laid out in front of you. The triple fans with the yellow accenting simply carries the lightning flavor to its fullest especially with the middle yellow fan. I do think a black fan with some yellow accents may have been a little better of an option as the yellow kind of screams out for attention but all in all it definitely carried the brand image and runs with it.

the rear of the card comes with the stylized lightning backplate with cutouts so you can see the blue LED’s which light up depending upon loading conditions. also in the middle of the rear of GPU you will notice the MSI circular cover which covers the GPU Reactor to ensure the PCB is not damaged by other items in the chassis or while maintaining the system.

MSI 780 Lightning Technical22

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The display connectivity is about standard for what we have seen on the Kepler based lineup

  • 2x DVI
  • 1x HDMI
  • 1x Displayport

This all digital connector arrangement allows for maxing out the GPU with up to 4 displays and even a surround plus accessory display array should the need arise.


MSI 780 Lightning Technical14

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Here you see that the custom PCB MSI GTX 780 Lightning offers dual 8 Pin PCIe connectors for some serious power capability, This is normally regarded as a bit overkill but for this card and the massive VRM capability I honestly wish it had another power connector just to be able to better saturate the components it has available and to better see the full capability of the card before major hard mods are needed in order to ensure full power capability is seen.

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And here after popping the top we get a nice look at the stripped down cooler and the massive contact plate for the GPU. The massive heatpipes definitely are designed for some serious heat transfer and I don’t think this card will have any problem pushing some serious clocks. Looking back to the card you see the main cooler plate/frame which acts as a dual piece heatsink and backplate for the memory and VRM while also pulling double duty making the PCB much more solid for a overall stronger card.

MSI 780 Lightning Technical21 MSI 780 Lightning Technical19

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Here you can see the GPU Reactor pins which are used to interface at the rear of the GPU and ensure the little bumps in power to stiffen the GPU power feed are in place as soon as needed for optimum performance.

Also you can see here the Massive custom VRM composed of the special Military Grade chokes and components which means this card should be ready for a serious beating from some long term gaming sessions or even LN2 benchmarking.

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Here you can see first up the Dip switch used to switch between the standard performance OC VBios and the high end LN2 no hold barred VBios. With a simple toggle before booting up you can enable much higher performance capability but be cautious to only use this with far superior cooling as key protections are disabled in the LN2 mode so the cards ability to protect itself can be altered or removed entirely causing damage to the card with insufficient cooling in place.

The V-checkpoints can be seen at the cards edge here and with the connection of the supplied leads you get full access to real time voltage monitoring for the card which enables much better control during benchmarking scenarios.


MSI 780 Lightning Technical18

Here you can see the top Lightning name which is backlit and as mentioned before actually will change color in accordance with the loading of the card. One thing to note here as well is that this card is a little bit wider than dual slot so fitment in some slot configurations could be tough if the slots are not spaced further than double width.


Review Overview

Performance - 95%
Value - 85%
Quality - 95%
Features - 95%
Innovation - 90%


The Lightning is an amazing benchmarkers card with everything including the kitchen sink thrown in. This card simply bleeds innovation and stands waiting for the next splash of LN2 to set its pace.

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