Since the N260GTX was introduced back in 2009, MSI has drawn a lot of positive attention to itself with its Lightning series. Lightning graphics cards are redesigned versions of high-end cards with a single goal in mind: to achieve the best possible overclocking results. Now the latest version is available in the form of the N680GTX Lightning, and of course we had to thoroughly test it.
The N680GTX Lightning is based on the Nvidia GeForce GTX 680. Like the GTX 680 reference card, the MSI card comes with 2GB GDDR5 memory. MSI redesigned the PCB, equipped it with a proprietary cooler and overhauled the BIOS. The Lightning comes overclocked as standard.
The GK104 GPU on the GeForce GTX 680 runs standard at 1,006MHz (1,058 MHz boost clock), but MSI has raised this to 1,111MHz. Out of all GTX 680 cards we tested, only Asus has created an even higher standard overclock, which you'll see here in a comparison table later. The GDDR5 memory MSI has left unaltered at 1,502MHz.
The PCB on the Lightning has been redesigned compared to the reference GTX 680. MSI has added more phases to the power-supply for the GPU and the memory, for a total of eight phases for the GPU and three for the memory. So-called "Military Class" components are used for the capacitors, spools and other parts. The placement of all components is done in such a manner to make using LN2 tubes easier.
Standard GTX 680s come with two six-pin PEG connectors for supplying 150 Watts to the card (next to the 75 Watts from the PCI-Express bus). The Lightning has two eight-pin connectors and can supply 300 Watts. There are also voltage measuring points for the GPU, memory and PWM voltage, and plugs for connecting the pens from your multimeter. The BIOS switch lets you change between a normal BIOS and a LN2 BIOS, and the latter disables limits set on power consumption and so on. You can read the rest of MSI N680GTX Lightning preview on Hardware.info.