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MSI N260GTX Lightning Review

MSI N260GTX Lightning

Manufacturer: MSI
UK Price (as reviewed): £194 (inc. VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): TBC

Core Clock: 665MHz
Shader Clock: 1,400MHz
Memory Clock: 1,998MHz (effective)
Memory: 1,792MB
Warranty: Three years (parts and labour)

It seems to be quite common among gamers to have a soft spot for military hardware. Maybe it’s seeing all of those guns, fighter jets and tanks in the flesh that we’ve all spent so many hours pwning each other with. Perhaps it’s the symbol of power which so many geeks long for, usually taking it out on their poor guild mates or giving it the Charlie-big-boy-bananas on the forums. More likely though, it’s just the sleek, cutting edge, perfectly engineered and ludicrously sexy technological achievements that really gets the juices flowing.

MSI has capitalised on this tech-loving lust by plonking an M-35 Lightning fighter jet on the outer packaging of its new GeForce GTX 260 graphics card. The GTX 260 was released some time ago now and after getting off to an average start due its initially whopping price. After a considerable amount of time in the weeds, ATI then came back strong with its Radeon HD 4870 which saw the price of the GTX 260 dropping faster than the trousers of someone with a serious case of the runs. The price drops enabled the GTX 260 to provide a solid price to performance ratio, making it a very popular card as a knock on effect.

MSI N260GTX Lightning Review MSI N260GTX Lightning Review
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So why then have we decided to review a GTX 260 who’s price is closer to an F-35 Lightening fighter jet than a GTX 260? Well, MSI has rebuilt the card from the ground up and added a bunch of advanced technology of its own. The company has done a number on the power design bringing the card from six phase to ten phase. Most notably, MSI has quelled the squealing made by the stock designs which sounded like a piglet jacked into a mains power line. Add to the bundle a custom cooler, double the memory, multi-meter voltage checking points and a nifty front-panel overclocking gizmo and you’ve successfully decimated the price performance ratio that the GTX 260 is known for.

That said, you are clearly getting a lot of tech for your extra cash. The real question is, is it worth it? The double memory alone is a questionable addition. Adding more memory is usually considered the best way to bump the cost while adding little to no additional performance. The cooler, overclocking widget and overclockability of the card are going to have to come up with some serious performance to justify the epic price tag.

MSI N260GTX Lightning Review MSI N260GTX Lightning Review
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What’s inside?

Well, the first thing that’s inside the sleeve is a type of box which is in stark contrast to the fighter jet on the outside. We’ve never bough a pair of Gucci shoes before, but we would expect them to come in a box similar to this. It’s made from very sturdy black card which is wrapped in a seductive, black, textured material.

The lid lifts up at a 90 degree angle and is kept in a ceremonious position by a length of silky black ribbon which makes it feel like a display case for the crown jewels. The lower portion of the box is a small back drawer with a further piece of ribbon used as a handle. The drawer slides sumptuously out to present you with delicious folds of black card, underneath which can be found the accessories.

Connectivity options include a VGA to DVI adaptor and a DVI to HDMI adaptor. A cable with an internal USB connector at one end and a proprietary connector on the other end allows connection on the AirForce Panel to the motherboard and a mini-USB to USB cable allows you to extend it further from the case and have it sitting outside the case.