MSI really has this stuff down. Their Lightning series of cards for this particular generation are just second to none in my testing. The N580GTX Lightning Xtreme Edition takes all the goodness of the previous Lightning cards and adds in those three extra touches to make this an outstanding product. While the color changing fans and automatic dust removal may be a bit gimmicky, the extra memory is useful when looking towards future games… and actually gaming today on three monitors when the cards are in SLI (aka NVIDIA Surround).
The MSI N580GTX is quite a bit longer than the older GTX 480, which in turn is about the same size as the newer GTX 580.
The stock overclock of this card is pretty aggressive, but not all that much higher than other pre-overclocked cards from MSI’s competitors. What they do give is the ability to push the pedal down and clock this card really high. The vast array of power phases, the use of the high quality components and “proadlyzers”, and the massive heatsink and fan should give enough tools for enthusiasts to explore the upper limits of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 GPU. Once LN2 is added, we should expect to see these cards take a few world records (and they have so far).
The only real issue we run into is that of price. The card retails for $599, which is around $120 more expensive than a standard GTX 580. The added benefits of the card though could be well worth the price. The faster speed, the easy overclocks, the extra memory, and a truly unique fan and heatsink setup all come together to help justify the price. Consider that most reference GTX 580s have a load temperature around 88C to 90C, the 70C that this particular card exhibited will pay big benefits to the overall “coolness” of a user’s case. While the heat is only partially expelled out the back of the card, a well ventilated case will quickly whisk away what is left in the case. Overall the benefits of the cooling solution far outweigh the potential negatives of dumping heat back into a user’s case.
I knew that old hairdryer would come in handy sometime! The fans really do turn white when exposed to an environment which exceeds 45C.
When two of these are put together, they make one of the best SLI/NVIDIA Surround combinations out there. While a user can purchase a GTX 590 (dual GPU card) for $150 more than the N580GTX Lightning Xtreme Edition, they will not get the extra memory space. Then again, purchasing two of the N580GTX Lightning Xtreme Edition cards will set a user back $1198 (give or take a few dollars). This card is not for the faint of heart, or those light of wallet. Still, when considering a high end card that *should* last quite some time, then there are few other cards that can compete with this monster.
MSI N580GTX Lightning Xtreme Edition Gold Award Winner