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MSI Not Building Maxwell-Based "Lightning" Graphics Card

According to a report on NordicHardware, MSI is holding off building a Maxwell-based 'Lightning' series graphics card. Supposedly, MSI is doing so because it expects an even higher-performing Maxwell part to arrive in the near future.

The Lightning series cards from MSI are the company's extreme overclocking-oriented cards which come with extremely hefty and powerful coolers, as well as very elaborate PCB designs carrying a rather generous number of VRM phases. As a cherry on top, the GPUs are also hand-picked for more stable overclocking.

In the past, the mainstream parts carried a dual-fan cooler that closely resembled the standard TwinFrozr cooler featured on the "Gaming"-branded cards. However, the GTX 780 and GTX 780 Ti that were based on the more power-hungry GK110 GPU got a new Lightning cooler, called the TriFrozr, which featured three fans and a ludicrously thick heatsink.

MSI's GTX 780 Lightning

So, taking that history into account, we reason that the lower TDPs of the GTX 970 and the GTX 980 don't allow MSI to justify building a special overclocking-oriented card yet, as the "Gaming"-branded cards already overclock quite well.

MSI has confirmed that at the time of writing it has no plans for a Lightning card on Maxwell due to restrictions that Nvidia has placed on overclocking.

Might there be a more power-hungry GPU on the way? Perhaps the GM200 or a GM210? MSI claims they have nothing on the product lineup, but that doesn't rule out the possibility.

Follow Niels Broekhuijsen @NBroekhuijsen. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

  • nikoli707
    well gm210 will obviously be coming in the next year or so. so understand why they would hold off. no use in making a near world record breaking card to have it completely blown out of the water. last i saw there is no word on a kingpin gm204 either, though evga may still do it if the demand is there.
    Reply
  • gsxrme
    These are not the Maxwells we are looking for. These are tease-wells and The real Maxwell we seen on paper and die pictures have 512bit memory and much much more cuda cores.

    Follow MSI lead and wait. 900 series is a joke.
    Reply
  • rishiswaz
    These are not the Maxwells we are looking for. These are tease-wells and The real Maxwell we seen on paper and die pictures have 512bit memory and much much more cuda cores.

    Follow MSI lead and wait. 900 series is a joke.


    These are not the Maxwells we are looking for. These are tease-wells and The real Maxwell we seen on paper and die pictures have 512bit memory and much much more cuda cores.

    Follow MSI lead and wait. 900 series is a joke.


    We haven't seen Maxwell flexed to the limit just yet. I am an AMD fan boy, but until they can get the die shrink they need it will be limited. AMD just bought their way into 16/14nm process so expect Nvidia to either follow that path or rush their fabs to get the shrink ASAP. Hopefully this isn't Fermi 2.0 in terms of yeilds
    Reply
  • SkyBill40
    I'm interested in moving up from my 660Ti and had planned on the 780 L but that's no longer available. Seeing how much better the performance is from both the 970/980 over the 780L (and even the 780Ti), this is a somewhat disappointing move on the part of MSI. I figured a Lightning model was all but a certainty.
    Reply
  • vmem
    well gm210 will obviously be coming in the next year or so. so understand why they would hold off. no use in making a near world record breaking card to have it completely blown out of the water. last i saw there is no word on a kingpin gm204 either, though evga may still do it if the demand is there.
    well gm210 will obviously be coming in the next year or so. so understand why they would hold off. no use in making a near world record breaking card to have it completely blown out of the water. last i saw there is no word on a kingpin gm204 either, though evga may still do it if the demand is there.

    I would say we will say GM210 in less than a year, to be honest, for MSI to hold back a "lightning model" suggests it will come within 6 months. traditionally GPUs have always been on a ~ 1 year cycle and MSI has had no problems spending a few months of development to release a lightning model. therefore the only reason for them skip gtx980 is if something bigger is coming VERY soon
    Reply
  • dovah-chan
    14240288 said:
    These are not the Maxwells we are looking for. These are tease-wells and The real Maxwell we seen on paper and die pictures have 512bit memory and much much more cuda cores.

    Follow MSI lead and wait. 900 series is a joke.

    So having a 165W TDP while still edging behind or beating a 780 Ti isn't impressive at all when you consider that's almost 100W less than the 780 Ti? Not to even mention the R9 290X's monstrous 290W TPD. I am very impressed by Maxwell. The performance/watt is nearly double of the other cards. You also have to take in account that were literally fighting with the laws of physics right now in the semiconductor industry. The architectures we take for granted are the products of billions of dollars of investments.

    Even something that was as big a blunder as Bulldozer or Fermi is still just a defining statement of how far we have progressed as a technologically advanced entity in this universe. Being able to fabricate and build on a nanometer scale is just incredible. But to do such things and have a high performance yield alongside wonderful energy efficiency is beyond anybody's imagination here. I apologize if I offend you but I wouldn't simply dismiss it as a joke.

    Although I do understand where you're coming from and what you mean. I'm sure that on the Maxwell refresh we'll start seeing some fully unlocked cards with all the CUDA cores enabled and a bigger bus width; just like what happened with Kepler. Not to mention some fine tuning and lower costs since the overall yield should be higher.
    Reply
  • dovah-chan
    Anyways putting that aside, I had a question for you Niels. I was wondering if MSI had anymore news regarding its announced SLI Krait Edition motherboard. I was excited when I read that article and over a month later there has been no news on it and it hasn't popped up on Newegg or any other retailers from what I've seen. I've done a quick search and all I can find is just that initial announcement and no follow ups on pricing or availability.

    Could you or someone else at tom's be so kind as to contact an MSI represenative and request any information about this product? I would greatly appreciate it. :)
    Reply
  • Au_equus
    MSI is learning from its past mistake of releasing the premium version of a partially disabled GK110 prior to the launch of the fully enabled GK110. The gtx 780 lightning edition was released 8/30/13 for $750, while the gtx 780 ti was released 11/7/13 for $700. Thanks to Nvidia, MSI's profit from the gtx 780 LE was minimal, if any. The gtx 980 is a fully enabled GM104, but its hardly the top of the line. IMO, if you got 780ti, the performance gains aren't worth the cost of the gtx 980. Wait for the fully enabled GM2xx.
    If they can put out this much GPU muscle in a 165W envelope, I can't wait to see what they can squeeze into mobile GPUs.
    Reply
  • fuzzion
    Still thinking the 780ti was the best decision i made a while ago.
    Reply
  • Stoggy26
    i still think there isnt much difference between the 780 ti and 980 780 ti beats it stock clock 980 beats it on overclock but it doesnt magically stay at 165 tdp it goes to about 300-400 range so for people upgrading to a 980 there isnt enough justice to sell your 780ti to get a 980
    Reply