ATI Radeon HD 5870 Overclocked Round-up

MSI HD 5870 Lightning

Micro Star International (MSI) manufactures a variety of computer hardware components. Established in 1986, they originally focused on the motherboard and graphics card market, but now produce a variety of notebooks, barebone systems,and wireless networking devices. The Lightning product line represents the fastest models that MSI produces and the one we're looking at today is arguably perhaps the sexiest graphics card they've ever made.

MSI Lightning HD 5870  Graphics Card

 MSI Lightning
 Specs and Features

R5870 Lightning

Core Clock
900 MHz
Memory Clock / Size
1200 MHz / 1 GB

One DisplayPort
MSI Afterburner Utility
User Manual
Crossfire Bridge
DVI to VGA Adapter
HDMI Cable
Two 6-pin to 8-pin PCIe Power Adapters

3 Years Parts / 2 Years Labor



The R5870 Lighting features a core clock of 900 MHz and memory at 1200 MHz. The bundle includes a user's manual, MSI's Afterburner overclocking utility, Crossfire bridge, VGA adapter, HDMI cable, and a couple of PCIe power adapters. Its warranty will cover parts replacement for three years, and labor costs up to two years. At $500, it is the at the same price point as the Super Overclock and Turbo X video cards.

MSI took the Lightning and dipped it in a bucket of bling. Twin Frozr II is the name of MSI's cooling system--you can see it emblazoned on the heatsink's fan shroud. It's here we find two 80mm fans on top of the Lightning's dual slot cooler. They circulate through a series of aluminum fins that transfer heat from four shiny chrome heat pipes that measure 8mm in diameter. Unlike the other 5870's in this article, the R5870 features two 8pin connectors, making more power available to the card to aid in overclocking.

MSI includes the Afterburner overclocking utility with the Lightning HD 5870. The program interface looks very sleek and polished. Users can adjust core voltage up to 1.3V, core clocks to 1350 MHz, and memory speed to 1560 MHz. But there is a catch. The program found on the utility disk might not work correctly. We ran into this issue while overclocking the R5870 Lightning and did some research. Luckily, we came across a fix on a user forum. In order to use Afterburner with this card, you will need to download the latest version (1.6) and edit the MSIAfterburner.cfg file found in the MSI Afterburner directory. Here are the steps:

1. Download Afterburner 1.6 and Kombustor here
2. Edit MSIAfterburner.cfg
3. Change AllowCaptureVoltageDefaults from 0 to 1
4. Run Kombustor in Windowed Mode in order to place a load on the videocard
5. Select the Afterburner window by clicking on its window
6. Press <Ctrl> + <Alt> + <Shift> + <V> to capture voltage
7. Change AllowCaptureVoltageDefaults from 1 to 0
8. Finished

We found that performing these steps allowed us to overclock the card to higher frequencies than our first attempt. This is likely due to the fact that the voltage adjustments we made in Afterburner were not truly occurring. For more information on this issue, go here.

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