Honest conclusion of the reviewer! Just for your information: from the HWBOT database we have gathered information on the overclocking capabilities of both MSI Lightning and GIGABYTE Super Overclock HD 5870. On average, both cards clock 100MHz higher than a reference HD 5870. On air cooling, however, the difference is just non-existent ... go for the cheapest one if you just run air.
So this really turns into a question of value. I’m going to make some generalizations here that some of you may disagree with, but this is how I see it and if you want to know how I would want to spend my hard earned money, here it is. With reference cards selling for less than $400 these days, the Gigabyte SOC card commands a $100+ premium. If a reference card can be expected to reach 900MHz core and 1300MHz memory, and a Gigabyte SOC card can be expected to hit 1000MHz core and 1350MHz memory, then the question becomes this: “Is the Gigabyte SOC worth a 25% increase in price for about a 10% increase in performance?” My answer, no! The overclocker in me is even more convinced. These cards were not binned with extreme cooling, so they are not necessarily going to be good overclocking cards on LN2. I only tested one of the two with LN2, but even if the 2nd one was amazing on LN2, the fact still remains that there is no guarantee of top shelf overclockability with extreme cooling. So again, if it was my money, I’d go for the best priced 5870 available and push it as far as you can!