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MSI GTX 680 Lightning Review

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
Metro 2033 (DX11)

Metro 2033 (DX11)


For this test we use a walkthrough and combat scene from The Bridge level which starts at the beginning of the level and lasts for about 3 minutes of walking, running and combat. Famerates are measured with FRAPS and Advanced PhysX is turned off.

1920 x 1200

GTX-680-LIGHTNING-59.jpg


2560 x 1600

GTX-680-LIGHTNING-60.jpg
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
Shogun 2: Total War (DX11)

Shogun 2: Total War (DX11)


Due to its very nature, Shogun 2 is a tough game to benchmark since the in-game tool doesn’t accurately convey an in-game experience. So we took a pre-recorded battle which pits three large armies against one another and includes camera zooms, fog, gun smoke and other items. Using a pre-recorded sequence also effectively removes the CPU from the equation since it doesn’t have to process AI.

1920 x 1200

GTX-680-LIGHTNING-63.jpg


GTX-680-LIGHTNING-64.jpg


2560 x 1600

GTX-680-LIGHTNING-65.jpg


GTX-680-LIGHTNING-66.jpg
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim (DX9)

The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim (DX9)


Being one of the most popular and best looking RPG games released in the last few years, Skyrim needed to be included in our reviews, regardless of the fact that it uses an older DX9 rendering engine. For our test sequence we used a typical runthrough interspersed with some combat. A modded .ini file along with the official high resolution texture pack was used in order to ensure image quality was up to expectations.

1920 x 1200

GTX-680-LIGHTNING-69.jpg


GTX-680-LIGHTNING-70.jpg


2560 x 1600

GTX-680-LIGHTNING-71.jpg


GTX-680-LIGHTNING-72.jpg
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
Wargame: European Escalation (DX11)

Wargame: European Escalation (DX11)


This may not be the most popular game on the market but through its DX11 rendering path it can display some amazing visuals. For our benchmark we used a combination of wide angle zooming, close quarters combat and camera pans in order to simulate as many in-game scenarios as possible.


1920 x 1200

GTX-680-LIGHTNING-75.jpg


GTX-680-LIGHTNING-76.jpg


2560 x 1600

GTX-680-LIGHTNING-77.jpg


GTX-680-LIGHTNING-78.jpg
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
The Witcher 2 (DX9)

The Witcher 2 (DX9)


The Witcher 2 may be a DX9 based game but its graphics quality is beyond reproach. In this benchmark we take an area out of The Kayran mission and include one of the toughest effects the graphics engine has in store for the GPU: rain. Throughout this sequence, rain plays a large part but explosions, combat and even some sun shafts are included as well.

1920 x 1200

GTX-680-LIGHTNING-81.jpg


GTX-680-LIGHTNING-82.jpg


2560 x 1600

GTX-680-LIGHTNING-83.jpg


GTX-680-LIGHTNING-84.jpg
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
Taking Image Quality to the Next Level

Taking Image Quality to the Next Level


In this section we take a number of games we have tested previously in this review and bring things to the next level by pushing the in-game settings to the highest possible level. All other methodologies remain the same.


Batman: Arkham City

GTX-680-LIGHTNING-36.jpg


Crysis 2

GTX-680-LIGHTNING-45.jpg


Dirt 3

GTX-680-LIGHTNING-57.jpg


Metro 2033

GTX-680-LIGHTNING-61.jpg
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
Taking Image Quality to the Next Level (pg.2)

Taking Image Quality to the Next Level (pg.2)


In this section we take a number of games we have tested previously in this review and bring things to the next level by pushing the in-game settings to the highest possible level. All other methodologies remain the same.

Shogun 2: Total War

GTX-680-LIGHTNING-67.jpg


The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim

GTX-680-LIGHTNING-73.jpg


Wargame: European Escalation

GTX-680-LIGHTNING-79.jpg


The Witcher 2

GTX-680-LIGHTNING-85.jpg
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
Surround / Eyefinity Multi Monitor Performance

Surround / Eyefinity Multi Monitor Performance


Both NVIDIA and AMD now have single GPU multi monitor output options for some truly immersive gaming. However, spanning a game across three or more monitors demands a serious amount of resources which makes this a perfect test for ultra high-end solutions.

While all solutions have the ability to implement bezel correction, we leave this feature disabled in order to ensure compatibility. The benchmarks run remain the same as in normal testing scenarios.



Batman: Arkham City

GTX-680-LIGHTNING-37.jpg


Battlefield 3

GTX-680-LIGHTNING-42.jpg


Crysis 2

GTX-680-LIGHTNING-46.jpg


Dirt 3

GTX-680-LIGHTNING-58.jpg
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
Surround / Eyefinity Multi Monitor Performance (pg.2)

Surround / Eyefinity Multi Monitor Performance (pg.2)


Both NVIDIA and AMD now have single GPU multi monitor output options for some truly immersive gaming. However, spanning a game across three or more monitors demands a serious amount of resources which makes this a perfect test for ultra high-end solutions.

While all solutions have the ability to implement bezel correction, we leave this feature disabled in order to ensure compatibility. The benchmarks run remain the same as in normal testing scenarios.



Metro 2033

GTX-680-LIGHTNING-62.jpg


Shogun 2: Total War

GTX-680-LIGHTNING-68.jpg


The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim

GTX-680-LIGHTNING-74.jpg


Wargame: European Escalation

GTX-680-LIGHTNING-80.jpg
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
Temperature & Acoustics / Power Consumption

Temperature Analysis


For all temperature testing, the cards were placed on an open test bench with a single 120mm 1200RPM fan placed ~8” away from the heatsink. The ambient temperature was kept at a constant 22°C (+/- 0.5°C). If the ambient temperatures rose above 23°C at any time throughout the test, all benchmarking was stopped. For this test we use the 3DMark Batch Size test at its highest triangle count with 4xAA and 16xAF enabled and looped it for one hour to determine the peak load temperature as measured by GPU-Z.

For Idle tests, we let the system idle at the Windows 7 desktop for 15 minutes and recorded the peak temperature.


GTX-680-LIGHTNING-87.jpg

The Lightning’s Twin Froze IV heatsink once again tops the charts with its incredible ability to cool the GTX 680’s core. The result is higher average clock speeds than the competitor from ASUS which is likely why we were seeing MSI’s card pull ahead in certain tests.


Acoustical Testing


What you see below are the baseline idle dB(A) results attained for a relatively quiet open-case system (specs are in the Methodology section) sans GPU along with the attained results for each individual card in idle and load scenarios. The meter we use has been calibrated and is placed at seated ear-level exactly 12” away from the GPU’s fan. For the load scenarios, a loop of Unigine Heave 2.5 is used in order to generate a constant load on the GPU(s) over the course of 20 minutes.

GTX-680-LIGHTNING-47.jpg

Along with creating a heatsink that allows for low temperatures, MSI has also kept this card’s acoustical profile under strict control. The difference between it and ASUS’ TOP edition won’t be noticeable and there’s just no way you’ll hear it over case fans or the sounds of gaming.


System Power Consumption


For this test we hooked up our power supply to a UPM power meter that will log the power consumption of the whole system twice every second. In order to stress the GPU as much as possible we once again use the Batch Render test in 3DMark06 and let it run for 30 minutes to determine the peak power consumption while letting the card sit at a stable Windows desktop for 30 minutes to determine the peak idle power consumption. We have also included several other tests as well.

Please note that after extensive testing, we have found that simply plugging in a power meter to a wall outlet or UPS will NOT give you accurate power consumption numbers due to slight changes in the input voltage. Thus we use a Tripp-Lite 1800W line conditioner between the 120V outlet and the power meter.

GTX-680-LIGHTNING-88.jpg

With upgraded components and low temperature, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that MSI’s Lightning doesn’t consume all that much more power than the reference design. However, take note that once its LN2 BIOS is enabled, power consumption will increase substantially.
 

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