in: Graphics Card | April 13, 2011 | by: Oik Yusuf Araya

Review MSI N580GTX Lightning: Pushing the Fastest to the Limit

The two archrivals in the graphics chip business, NVIDIA and ATI (now AMD), have long been competing against one another for a bigger piece of the market. Each is trying to best the other by offering new chip revisions, including mighty, dual-GPU cards such as the Radeon HD 6990 or GeForce GTX 590. However, in terms of individual GPU performance, NVIDIA is currently holding the upper hand with their GTX 580 GPU, which happens to be the fastest DirectX 11 solution available.

MSI has come up with its own version of the GTX 580, and it’s not just another graphics card equipped with the fastest GPU around. With loads of overclocking features, the MSI N580GTX Lightning looks more like an overcharged version of the GTX 580, ready to be pushed to the limit. So, what is it like, really? Let’s begin our discussion by taking a look at the technical specifications!



The Lighting series sits on the topmost position in MSI’s graphics card hierarchy. Being enthusiast products, the graphics cards that belong in this series are equipped with the very best features MSI can offer, from high-quality components to extra tweaking options that would supposedly allow for higher overclocks. The graphics card themselves are made according to the inputs and suggestions obtained from overclockers, resulting in highly overclockable products including the N580GTX Lightning that we’re seeing right here.

From the specification table below, we can see that MSI applies factory overclocking to both the core and memory frequencies, which are increased by 60 MHz and 192 MHz, respectively. This should improve the graphics card’s performance right out of the box. We’ll compare the benchmark results later on in this article.


MSI implements some of its best hardware features on the N580GTX Lightning, including:


  • Military Class II Components

  • MSI uses high-quality components to construct this card, such as Hi-c CAP (Highly-Conductive Capacitor), Solid CAP (Solid Capacitor), and SFC (Super Ferrite Choke).

    • LPL (Lightning Power Layer)

    A specially-designed PCB called the LPL (Lightning Power Layer) is used as the card’s foundation. This PCB provides a more stable flow to the components like the GPU and memory chips and reduces “noise” (ripple) in the electric current.

    • Power4 Architecture

    Power4 Architecture is MSI’s own terms used to refer to the power architecture on the N580GTX Lightning. It consists of several groups of components: 18 Phase PWM Design, Independent Memory Power, Proadlizer, and Copper MOS.

    • Triple Overvoltage

    This feature allows users to modify the graphics card’s voltage settings via the MSI Afterburner software. Three parameters can be adjusted manually: the Core Voltage, Memory Voltage, and Aux Voltage. To support these, you can find three V-Check Points on the board. The Twin Frozr III HSF is also used on this product.

    • V-Check Points
    • Twin Frozr III
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