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GeForce GTX 1080 Ti At 2.5 GHz+: Overclocking On Air, Water, And LN2

Meet MSI's GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Lightning Z

MSI's GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Lightning Z is the company's highest-end graphics card. It sports a massive heat sink and a PCA deliberately designed to facilitate overclocking.

The luxury-oriented Lightning family has been around since the GeForce GTX 260 days, and MSI has broken several world records with its Lightning flagships thanks to some of the most daring enthusiasts.

So, today's mission is to test the GTX 1080 Ti Lightning Z's capabilities under air, water, and of course liquid nitrogen cooling. Will the current performance leader do its ancestors proud, or are 12 billion transistors simply too many to overclock aggressively?

In an effort to answer as completely as possible, we're not just testing one sample. Rather, we have four of these rare cards to push as hard as possible.


MSI GTX 1080 Ti Lightning Z
MSI GTX 1080 Ti Lightning Z

A Big, Beefy Card

While the Lightning family's colors have evolved from grey to black/silver, then to black/red, and most famously to black/yellow, the soul of these cards remains unchanged. And there's still a bolt of lightning to honor the line-up's heritage.

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Clearly, this card's dimensions are oversized. But what really surprised us was its mass. By way of comparison, we weighed a few heat sinks (just the sinks; not the cards):

  • Asus ROG Matrix GeForce GTX 980: 680g
  • MSI GeForce GTX 980 Ti Lightning: 800g
  • MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Lightning Z: 1050g

That's more than a kilogram for nothing but the main heat sink, to which you can add 300g of heat dissipation plates (front and back). In all, you're looking at 1.7kg for the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Lightning Z, making it a record-breaker.

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MSI GTX 1080 Ti Lightning Z
MSI GTX 1080 Ti Lightning Z
Jean-Michel "Wizerty" Tisserand is a French extreme overclocker, and former OC world champion. Passionate and curious, he's always into pushing hardware to its limits. Willing to transmit his knowledge, he created the French Overclocking Federation, and writes merciless hardware torture articles!