SOMEWHAT UNEXPECTED, MSI announced a custom GTX 480 graphics cards at its MOA event this weekend and as far as we’re aware, this is the most extreme GTX 480 card, so far. It’s also a rather gimmicky card, but at least as a limited edition product it does bring something different to the market.
It’s pretty clear even from only a quick glance at the card that this is not a reference design product. The N480GTX Lightning has a massive heatpipe cooler with two fans and the card is a fair bit taller than the rear bracket. Flip the card over and you notice that a large section of the top part of the card is extending above the SLI connectors, something you won’t get on the reference cards. Peel off the cooler and it’s easy to see what MSI has done, but we’re not certain as to why MSI has done what they’ve done.
The card has, according to MSI, 12+3+1 power phases, but it appears that the 12 phases are more like six by two when you look closely, something we’ve seen from motherboard manufacturers in the past. There are enough chokes and MOSFETs but around the back there appears to be only six drivers which suggest that this card only has six actual power phases, but with two sets of chokes and MOSFETs per phase.
The N480 Lightning has two eight-pin and one six-pin power connector and according to the Nvidia rep at the event there didn’t appear to be any real performance advantage of being able to provide the card with this much power as, at least during the competition, the overclocking results didn’t prove to be significantly better than that of a regular GTX 480. MSI might disagree with this, but this monster card sure did give the collected top overclockers around the world some serious problems with only a few of them managing to work out how to make this card perform.
Other features include dual DVI outputs, HDMI and DisplayPort connectors, dual BIOS chips with what appears to be a hardware switch for selecting between the two, a “V-Switch” for manual Voltage tweaking and three “V-Check” points which allows a multi meter to be connected easily to read the Voltages of the card. The latter two features aren’t exactly something you’d find on your average graphics card, but then again, the N480GTX Lightning isn’t intended for your average user with an expected retail price of about $550.
Last but not least, here’s a picture of how not to treat your brand new graphics card, although the guys who did this claimed that it comes off just fine in the dishwasher…S|A
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