OC'ed GeForce GTX 480 Shoot-Out: MSI vs Gigabyte

Article Index

Our Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: The MSI N480GTX Lightning and Gigabyte GeForce GTX 480 SOC both performed very well throughout testing. Both of the cards were measurably faster than a reference GeForce GTX 480, as expected. Overall, the Gigabyte card proved to be faster than MSI’s offering due to the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 480 SOC’s higher GPU core and shader clocks, but the MSI card’s faster memory gave it an edge in AvP. In light of NVIDIA’s recent GPU releases, both of these cards slightly trail the GTX 580, but typically run on par with or slightly better than a GTX 570.

What a difference a few weeks make, huh? Had we been able to post this article prior to the release of the GeForce GTX 500 series, these two cards from MSI and Gigabyte would have been a couple of the fastest, single-GPU based cards around. As it stands now, they’re still incredibly fast, but the GeForce GTX 570’s introduction at $349 makes the relatively high asking price on both of these cards somewhat unwarranted. As of this publication, the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 480 SOC is selling for about $469, while the MSI N480GTX Lightning can be had for about $515. Strictly looking at performance, both of these cards need price reductions.

With that said, for some, performance isn’t the only consideration. The fact remains that both of these cards were designed with hardcore overclocking in mind and they offer features not found on standard graphics cards. And those features don’t come for free. If you’re among the elite that would benefit by having multiple BIOS chips, zero-degree bug workarounds, on the fly voltage adjustments, and in the case of the MSI N480GTX Lightning, easy to probe checkpoints for a multi-meter, these cards offer them, while others don’t.

The bottom line is, these aren’t your everyday GeForce GTX 480s and they’re not tailored for everyday gamers. If you’ll benefit by the hardcore features they offer, both the MSI N480GTX Lightning and Gigabyte GeForce GTX 480 SOC are top-notch products that are sure to please. It just so happens that faster products have recently hit the scene at lower price points.

MSI N480GTX Lightning

Gigabyte GeForce GTX 480 SOC

Strong Performance
Easy Voltage TweaksVoltage Check Points
Great Cooler
BIOS Switching


Didn't OC As High As GB's Offering
Excellent Performance
Overclocked Higher Out of the Box
Pricier Than GTX 570
Higher Temps Than MSI

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