Review: MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Lightning Z

The cream of the 1080 Ti Crop.

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Review: MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Lightning Z
Supplier: MSI
Price: $1499.00

If you’re a professional overclocker, there’s one specific video card that seems to be the favourite that they all turn to. MSI’s Lightning series is so heavily over-engineered that it can take a smashing from LN2 abuse, and has won many world records in the past. The moment these guys are all waiting for has finally arrived – the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti version of the Lightning Z. 

This is one gigantic graphics card, taking up three slots. This provides plenty of room for two glowing RGB strips, and comes with a special reinforcement bracket to ensure it doesn’t warp your motherboard. The Tri-Frozr cooler uses triple Torx 2.0 fans, and to our amazement this card remains very quiet, even when overclocked. The loudest it hit was a mere 43dB of fan noise, which is simply phenomenal for a card clocked like this. 

When you spot the triple 8-pin power plugs, it’s obvious that MSI has done some serious beefing up of the power supply. This card uses 14 of the industry’s highest rated DrMOS power phases as part of its ‘Enhanced Power Design’, and it also has Pure Digital PWM Control to deliver extremely fine control and monitoring of power delivery to specific key components. There’s an LN2 switch for serious overclockers, but even noobies will be able to get the most out of it. Using the MSI Gaming App, it’s possible to set the card to three modes. The default GeForce GTX 1080 Ti runs at a base speed of 1481MHz, while the Boost speed is 1582MHz. Meanwhile the default memory speed is 11Gbps. Now, onto the one-click options available via the MSI Gaming App. Slowest is the silent mode, which runs with a base of 1480 MHz and a Boost of 1582 MHz – basically identical to the default card. Next up is gaming mode, which has a base speed of 1582 MHz and a Boost speed of 1695 MHz. Finally there’s the OC mode, which has a base speed of 1607MHz and a Boost speed of 1721 MHz. That’s quite a healthy factory overclock right there. Meanwhile the memory speed boosts to 11124MHz in both Gaming and OC mode. But we wanted to go one further, and do a manual overclock. We ended up hitting 2030MHz under Boost mode, and but only hit 11124MHz in the memory mode. 

Does the average gamer need to spend 50% more on this GTX 1080 Ti than generic versions of this chipset? Hell no. But if you want to be the world’s fastest GPU overclocker, this is the card for you. 

PROS
• Incredible power supply
• Very quiet cooling
• Top quality components throughout
 
CONS
• 50% more expensive than a default GTX 1080 Ti
Power Award
9 10
Verdict
Normal gamers can forget this card – it’s aimed directly as the super high-end overclockers, and we’re sure to see it take out many awards later this year.
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