Pros: Great build quality & aesthetics, card is overengineered so you can overclock without fear of a VRM blowing up in a year
Cons: Cards don't seem to be binned... they hit the same OCs that any other custom 7970 hits
The Lightning is one of the only 7970s at this point that has a custom PCB, which is overengineered and designed for overclocking. Since so much of the value of a 7970 lies in its overclocking potential, it's nice to get a custom card that will let you overvolt safely for long term use.
The Twin frozr IV cooler does a great job - in crossfire and overclocked my temps during games stay in the low-mid 70s on both cards. It also looks gorgeous.
Dual BIOS switch is always nice
Stable in crossfire (OC'd in afterburner) at 1200 MHz core, 1800 MHz memory with 1.21 vcore and +30 mV auxiliary. Performance is right there with typical GTX 680 OC performance.
Does not OC any better than other custom cards. Hits about the same clocks my XFX DD BE hit, and that was a reference PCB. So, what you pay for (at least for normal on-air use) is durability and longevity, not performance. Honestly, that's a bit disappointing - I don't know why MSI didn't bin their cards. Maybe they're binned for LN2?
No dual link DVI. If you need DL-DVI for your monitor, you should not buy this card. Period.
I'm not sure why, but these cards get absolutely devastated by so-called "power virus" programs like OCCT and Furmark. Even at stock clocks in OCCT, I'll see temperatures well into the 80s, and it would easily top 90C within a minute or two if I let OCCT run on the overclocked settings. I have no idea why this is, because as I said - temps stay into the low-mid 70s while gaming and even while benchmarking things like 3dmark and Unigine (and that's when overclocked... I've never seen it go above about 65-68C in games at stock).
These are pretty much impossible to find in the US. I had to import my second card from the UK because they weren't available anywhere (and still aren't as far as I can tell).
Very highly recommended. If you're in the market for a 7970, I have no problem recommending that you buy this model if you can find it. It's the only 7970 that I'd feel comfortable overvolting for extended periods of time, and I think that alone is worth the price premium on this over a reference PCB card. The wonderful aesthetics of the card and all the hardcore OC features for sub-zero overclocking are just a bonus.