MSI previews N580GTX Lightning board

MSI has given us a walk-through of its upcoming N580GTX Lightning graphics board, which it claims will be the most powerful single-GPU design for quite some time to come.

Taking some time out of a busy CeBIT schedule to see us, MSI's Scott Bentley took us through the key features of the company's latest creation - and explained why he thinks it will be the go-to design choice for the majority of high-end gamers for the near future.

The MSI N580GTX Lightning is based on Nvidia's Fermi 110 GPU, but pushes it to the limit with impressive cooling and power technologies designed to make the card appeal to overclockers and power users alike.

"The power design of the N580GTX Lightning is unreal," Bentley explained - and his claims seem to be backed up by the specifications. It features a 16-phase PWM design with three dedicated Proadlizer noise absorption devices for the GPU and a fourth solely for the memory supply - which is derived from the PSU, rather than the PCI Express channel.

With that much high-quality power on demand, MSI is looking towards the overclocking community as its target market - and has used its latest TwinFrozr III cooling design, which boasts 'propeller' style fans capable of providing around 20 per cent more airflow than the TwinFrozr II at the same speeds.

"We've also included a full-cover heatsink," Bentley pointed out, "which remains on the board even if the TwinFrozr III is removed, in order to provide better memory cooling for liquid nitrogen enthusiasts." For those pushing their boards to the limit, MSI has even equipped the N580GTX Lightning with microswitches to disable various protection systems to draw additional power and run still faster.

Pricing for the board, which should be hitting the market in the next few weeks, has yet to be confirmed. "It should fetch a $70 premium over rival models," Bentley warned - but his company remains confident that the impressive feature set will more than account for the price hike.

The 'Lightning' branding is designed to sit at the top end of MSI's graphics offerings, building on the 'Hawk' brand with higher-end features. Below those two, the company has the 'Power Edition' range for gamers on a budget, with TwinFrozr and Cyclone making up the bottom end.

With Nvidia's dual-GPU GeForce GTX 590 expected to go head to head with AMD's dual-GPU Radeon HD 6990 before the month is out, MSI is betting heavily on the single-GPU market proving to have some room left to grow over the next six months.