The anodized aluminum casing and acid-blue fans make this version of the card different visually from the ordinary one.
Both versions have the same specified size of 307x127x45 millimeters. However, this card is actually as long as 293 millimeters whereas its PCB is 280 millimeters long. Its weight is 1164 grams.
As opposed to the similar products from Gigabyte and EVGA, the MSI N580GTX Lightning Xtreme Edition offers a full selection of connectors: two DVI-I ports with support for high resolutions (dual-link), one HDMI 1.4a connector and a DisplayPort (version 1.2).
The connectors are all gold-plated. This can hardly improve the signal quality but looks nice anyway. There are two MIO connectors at the top of the PCB to build 2-, 3- and even 4-way SLI configurations.
The MSI N580GTX Lightning Xtreme Edition is equipped with two 8-pin power connectors.
The card’s peak power draw is specified to be 260 watts but MSI recommends a 700-watt power supply for a computer with it (Nvidia’s recommendation is 600 watts).
There are three connectors for cables you can use to measure the card's GPU, memory and PLL voltages.
You can also use jumpers to increase the range of those voltages, switch from a PWM frequency of 260 to 310 MHz (PWM ClockTuner) and disable the current limiter (OCP Unlocker).
There is a BIOS version selector nearby. You can switch from the Original to LN2 version to remove any voltage tweaking limitations and avoid the so-called cold bug which can occur with liquid-nitrogen coolers.