MSI 1080 Ti Lightning VRM & Cooling Detailed | Computex

By Published May 31, 2017 at 6:47 pm

MSI’s flagship GTX 1080 Ti Lightning GPU made an appearance at the company’s Computex booth this year, where we were able to get hands-on with the card and speak with PMs about VRM and cooling solutions. The 1080 Ti Lightning is an OC-targeted card, as indicated by its LN2 BIOS switch, and will compete with other current flagships (like the Kingpin that we just covered). The Lightning does not yet have a price, but we know the core details about cooling and power.

Starting with cooling: MSI’s 1080 Ti Lightning uses a finned baseplate (think “pin fins” from ICX) to provide additional surface area for dissipation of VRM/VRAM component heat. This baseplate covers the usual areas of the board, but is accompanied by a blackout copper heatpipe over the MOSFETs & driver IC components for heat sinking of power modules. We’ve seen this design get more spread lately, and have found it to be effective for cooling VRM devices. The heatpipe is cooled by the Lightning’s 3-fan solution, as is the rest of the thick finstack above the custom PCB.


The back of the card runs an aluminum backplate with a copper heatpipe across the center, cooling the hotspots behind the inductors and toward the back-side of the GPU. This will need direct airflow from a case fan to really get proper use, but should work significantly better than Gigabyte’s Xtreme backplate. GPU core cooling is handled by something to the tune of ~8~9 heatpipes (could not get exact count at the show), most of which go directly across the GPU die area of the board.

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Above: MSI is running 3x8 pin headers.

Power components also help spread thermal load, though, as MSI is using a doubling scheme to get 14+3 phases on the Lightning. The Lightning uses all IR components, relying on the IR3595A and 3570B controllers, with a stock board TDP of 350W. In order to leverage these components, like the EVGA Kingpin card, MSI hosts a special LN2 BIOS with all limitations removed. Users with XOC skills can employ the LN2 BIOS switch to get additional voltage to the GPU core, though there will ultimately be some thermal limitations until switching to exotic cooling.

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And, of course, there are a lot of RGB LEDs: The card’s back-side is filled with digital RGB LEDs, producing a more even transition and additional visual effects than standard diodes.

Price is TBD. For more of a hands-on, check the video above.

Editorial: Steve Burke
Video: Keegan Gallick

Steve Burke

Steve started GamersNexus back when it was just a cool name, and now it's grown into an expansive website with an overwhelming amount of features. He recalls his first difficult decision with GN's direction: "I didn't know whether or not I wanted 'Gamers' to have a possessive apostrophe -- I mean, grammatically it should, but I didn't like it in the name. It was ugly. I also had people who were typing apostrophes into the address bar - sigh. It made sense to just leave it as 'Gamers.'"

First world problems, Steve. First world problems.

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