MSI GTX 980Ti Lightning Graphics Card – Unboxing and First Look

Today we will have a first look at the most anticipated graphics card this year, the MSI GTX 980Ti Lightning. There has been a lot of speculation about how this card will perform to what memory it has. We can tell you now that the card looks spectacular with great performance straight out of the box. Retail samples are shipped with Hynix memory as we have found after testing four retail samples. Lets not get carried away as this article is focused on unboxing and first look. We promise that soon we will have a full review!

MSI GTX980Ti Lightning-4

As you can see, the box is rather large and about 1/3 larger than the average high end graphics card box. The box has all the usual information on it and is rather nice looking.

MSI GTX980Ti Lightning-5

The MSI GTX 980Ti Lightning box comes in two sections, the top is where the card is stored and well padded with foam. Underneath you can see a tray, this houses all extras such as the manual, driver disk and even a special cooler plate for the VRM section for use when you put an Ln2 pot on it. This plate coupled with a fan will provide adequate cooling of the VRM section once the stock cooler is removed.

MSI GTX980Ti Lightning-6One thing we have liked about the stock cooler is the yellow decal which spells out OC if you look closely. Three fans coupled with a massive heatsink keeps the card cool for those who love to game.

MSI GTX980Ti Lightning-8On the back of the MSI GTX 980Ti Lightning comes a rather nice backplate. The only issue we have found with the backplate is it is solid and therefore not allowing much airflow on to the back of the PCB, this may not even be a real issue as many might think this is fine or even get a nice decal cut out on the backplate.

MSI GTX980Ti Lightning-9Here we see that the MSI GTX 980Ti Lightning comes with three PCIe connectors in the following configuration, two by 8-pin and one by 6-pin. You will need to connect all three to your PSU for the card to work.

MSI 980Ti Lightning comes with :

  • Triple-fan & triple-slot Tri-Frozr cooler
  • Beefy heat sink
  • Three power connectors (8+8+6pin)
  • V-Check points
  • 5 SuperPipes
  • Military Class 4 components
  • Dual-BIOS feature
  • 12+3-phase power VRM
  • 10-layer customized PCB
  • Backplate
  • Clock speeds of 1203/1303 MHz (base/boost), 1774 MHz (memory)


We here have just shown a quick run of Firstrike with the MSI GTX 980Ti Lightning at stock volts. This card does boost over 1540MHz under load at these clocks with ease producing some nice FPS with rather cooler temperatures.

This has been just a brief look at the MSI GTX 980Ti Lightning and look forward to our full review coming very soon. We will be pushing the MSI GTX 980Ti Lightning on Liquid Nitrogen (LN2) and see how she performs as part of our subzero cooling articles.


  1. Very nice review. But why does it need the 8+8+6? Does it draw more wattage than the standard 980ti?

    • Thank you although the actual review is on the way.
      As to why the card needs 8+8+6 PCIe power plugs is the 6-pin is like a PEG connector allowing the card to draw more power when heavy overclocking such as Ln2. AFAIK, the card at stock draws a bit more power due to its boost and factory overclock compared to a ref 980ti. This could be why such cards as the Lightning require a third connector and is required for the card to operate. I hope to cover this more in the actual review so keep an eye out.

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