And then the really bad news ...
While I was writing this article I learned that NVIDIA just issued new BIOS files to the AIC partners and is frowning upon voltage tweaking outside their limitations. As such all new batches Lightning cards will have BIOSes where their limit of 1.175V is enforced, even in the LN2 BIOS. MSI has to follow that directive or probably face the fact that they will not be able to purchase the GPUs anymore.
This as well includes setting restrictions in the new AfterBurner 2.2.3 (download here)
So while everything as described above is possible it in the end means that only the first batch of 5000 cards will have an OLD Bios that is freed up from the limitation and thus allows voltage tweaking to a certain extent. We can only assume that the old BIOS will spread like a virus to current Lightning owners to give them a little more flexibility on voltage tweaking matters. However you'd also need a special MSI AfterBurner build to support it. And that we do not see happening, due to the limitations requested by NVIDIA.
We understand NVIDIA's point of view on this, really .. extreme voltage tweaking can damage GPUs, and in the end these are returned to NVIDIA. Next to that the complexity of this new methodology is extensive and to a certain extent even unreliable. For NVIDIA it thus is matter of RMA and cost.
The flipside of the coin however is that when imposing such limitation on the high-end GPUs it pretty much kills off the fun for many of you. Extreme performance and tweaks drive the overclocking community and in the end drive the sales of the complete product line.
We do hope this point of view will change in the future allowing the AIC partners more flexibility. But for now you guys will have to face the fact that NVIDIA's 1.175V limitation is a solid fact. But sure, this news is a little bitter.
i was right ...