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GeForce 9600 GT/GTS 250/GTX 260 Non-Reference Roundup

MSI N260GTX Lightning Black Edition

Lastly, we'll look at a very different rendition of the GeForce GTX 260: MSI's N260GTX Lightning.

MSI is taking a clear shot across the bow of the Asus ENGTX260 Matrix with this card. Just consider the specifications: 1,792 MB of video RAM (which is the most on a single-GPU GeForce GTX 260, as far as we’re aware) and 10-phase power. For the Black Edition, MSI also offers a touch-sensitive overclocking control panel called the AirForce Panel, which can be installed in your case or used as a remote from your desk.

Since our test sample included the Black Edition extras, we got to play with the AirForce Panel. We also got the Premium Black Edition packaging that includes a slick storage case. It won't make any difference to our performance story, of course, but we admit it certainly left a positive impression.

Our pre-release sample didn’t include the final bundle, so it’s difficult to know exactly what will be in the retail boxes. Our sample, however, had a driver CD, a DVI-to-HDMI adapter, a DVI-to-VGA adapter, the AirForce panel, and both internal and external USB cables for the AirForce panel.

As for the card itself, MSI has made significant modifications to the PCB compared to the reference design. As mentioned, MSI employs a 10-phase VRM. The card also sports twice the memory of other GeForce GTX 260 cards, with a full 1,792 MB of memory. It’s built with premium  capacitors (according to MSI) and the PCB has voltage check points conveniently located for overclockers.

The cooler is a twin-fan, dual-slot unit called the Twin Frozr, which uses five heatpipes to dissipate heat quickly. It doesn’t have a passive mode, so the fans are always active during operation.