MSI R6970 Lightning Twin Frozr III
The 6970 Lightning successfully continues MSI’s tradition of bringing graphics cards that feature high performance and low temperatures to consumers that demand high quality products. This card is a behemoth in just about every aspect: it’s long and heavy, and frankly, this thing is built like a tank.
In terms of features, voltage tweaking ability is an important selling point to many enthusiasts when deciding which manufacturer’s card to choose. Likely more important, however, are the impressively low temperatures and noise levels which are a significant improvement over the reference design. MSI has really nailed a winner with the Twin Frozr III heatsink over its predecessor. However, the tradeoff is this card is huge. Truly massive, really, as it’s the longest single-GPU card we’ve ever tested. You’ll definitely need a spacious case to fit this behemoth inside.
In terms of performance, the 6970 Lightning matched the GTX 570 for the most part, failing only where game titles seems to specifically prefer Nvidia cards over their AMD counterparts. The 940MHz core speed gave it a strong boost in a few instances where the two cards went toe-to-toe, and within striking distance of the GTX 580 on occasion.
With the 6970 Lightning priced around $385 USD, this represents about a $25 premium over the respective overclocked reference cards. We do think there is very good value for that extra, considering the voltage tweaking ability, improved power design, extremely impressive temperatures and lower noise levels. The only downside, of course, is that a GTX 570 can be found for about $30 cheaper and similar performance, plus the ability of PhysX and CUDA that Radeon cards don’t have.
The MSI 6970 Lightning is bold and brash in just about every sense: size, cooling prowess, lower noise levels, and voltage tweaking capabilities. MSI has really nailed it with the Twin Frozr III heatsink, and while it will cost you extra, this card is impressive. It’s built like a tank and doesn’t cost much more than the reference designs. If you want a flagship Radeon 6970 card, the MSI Lightning is fantastic.