MSI GeForce GTX 980 Ti LIGHTNING Video Card Review

We take the MSI GTX 980 Ti LIGHTNING video card and see how it plays the most demanding games. This video card "engineered to perfection" for extreme overclocking and has a TriFrozr cooling setup. We compare it to the overclocked ASUS GTX 980 Ti STRIX DCIII and an AMD R9 390X CrossFire configuration to find its true value.

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Evaluation Method

We evaluate what each video card configuration can supply us in terms of a playable gaming experience while supplying the best culmination of resolution and "eye candy" graphical settings. We focus on quality and immersion of the gameplay experience rather than how many frames per second the card can get in a canned benchmark or prerecorded timedemo situation that often do not represent real gameplay like you would experience at home. Then we will follow with apples-to-apples testing in with minimum, maximum, and average framerates.

Test System Setup

We will be using a ASUS P8Z77 WS motherboard. For the CPU we used an Intel i7 3770K overclocked to 4.6GHz with Hyper-threading enabled. The RAM is Corsair Dominator 16GB at 1600MHz. We are running the Windows 10 64-bit operating system on a 240GB Kingston HyperX SSD.

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Driver Setup

For the MSI GTX 980 Ti LIGHTNING and ASUS GTX 980 Ti STRIX DCIII we are using the GeForce 358.50 WHQL driver dated 10/7/2015.

For the AMD Radeon R9 390X 8GB CrossFire Setup we are using Catalyst 15.10 dated 10/13/2015.

Video Card Clock Speeds as tested

MSI GTX 980 Ti LIGHTNING (Max Overclock) – 1303MHz/1404MHz (base/boost) - 1518MHz In-Game Frequency. 8.1GHz memory.

MSI GTX 980 Ti LIGHTNING – 1203MHz/1304MHz (base/boost) - 1404MHz In-Game Frequency. 7.1GHz memory.

ASUS GTX 980 Ti STRIX DCIII (Max Overclock) – 1291MHz/1392MHz (base/boost) - 1531MHz In-Game Frequency. 8GHz memory.

AMD Radeon R9 390X 8GB CrossFire – 1070MHz GPU - 6GHz memory

Below is a screenshot of GPU-z after installing the MSI GTX 980 Ti LIGHTNING with the GeForce 358.50 WHQL driver.

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