MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC Graphics Card Review

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MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC Graphics Card
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Today we are reviewing the new MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC graphics which comes from the new GeForce RTX series of NVIDIA graphics cards. The RTX series is the latest in a line of Ray Tracing focused technologies with NVIDIA also introducing the new DLSS deep learning super sampling technology to the consumer market too.

Even though Ray Tracing isn’t currently integrated into much in the way of games as of yet, NVIDIA is certainly readying up the market with a swathe of titles coming in 2019 looking to feature this new technology. So what is Ray Tracing? Here is what NVIDIA says about that…

Ray Tracing In NVIDIA’s Words:

Ray tracing is the holy grail of gaming graphics, simulating the physical behaviour of light to bring real-time, cinematic-quality rendering to even the most visually intense games like never before. Experience ray tracing first-hand with the interactive demos and videos below.

But what about Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS)?:

Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) is new RTX technology that uses the power of deep learning and AI to train the GPU to render crisp images, while running up to 2x faster than previous generation GPUs using conventional anti-aliasing techniques.

Reigning things back to MSI now, the MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC features an overclock out of the box with a 1515MHz base clock with a 1845MHz boost on the core. This card is based on NVIDIAs Turing architecture and as such comes from the first bunch of cards to support real-time Ray Tracing in games (we highlighted this above). This card is essentially an NVIDIA RTX 2080 Founders Edition card with an aftermarket triple TORX fan equipped cooler and with a backplate for extra thermal performance. Let’s take a look at the official specifications and then take a look at the card itself.

MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC Specifications & Features

Manufacturer Part Code RTX 2080 DUKE 8G OC
Graphics Engine Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080
PCI-Express Bus PCI-Express 3.0
Open GL OpenGL 4.5
DirectX DirectX 12
CUDA Cores 2944
GPU Base Clock 1515MHz
GPU Boost Clock 1845MHz
Memory Capacity 8GB GDDR6
Memory Clock 14 Gbps
Memory Interface 256 Bit
Outputs 1x HDMI 2.0 (HDCP 2.2), 3x DisplayPort 1.4, 1x USB Type-C
Max Resolution 7680 x 4320
Dimensions 314mm x 120mm x 50mm

MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC Closer Look

The MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC looks superb visually and one of the first things I noticed was its size. It measures at 314 x 120 x 46mm which makes this card pretty big, but it’ll only take up two slots inside a case. I’m a firm believer in a cards PCB and cooler being of the same size and the Tri Frozr heatsink on the RTX 2080 Duke OC is certainly that! Now remember some of the ASUS cards that had a small PCB and a massive cooler which was 1/3rd of the size bigger? It looks stupid, but not the Duke.

MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC Graphics Card Top

The Duke looks classy, elegant, stylish and it even has customisable RGB LED lighting which can be software controlled and synced with other MSI Mystic Light RGB compatible products.

MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC Graphics Card Fans 2

The bulk of the design is made of up of a silver and black colour scheme and has two PCIe power inputs. These consist of an 8-pin and 6-pin PCIe power input with a total of 300W including the PCIe slot itself. MSI does recommend you use a 650W power supply with this card in your system, but this is certainly dependent on which CPU you’re using. Up to 2-way SLI is supported through NVIDIA’s NVLink technology.

MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC Graphics Card Fans

On the cooler is a total of three TORX 2.0 fans which feature double ball bearings and are designed to keep the hottest of GPU cores cool. One of the most important and appealing features is the cards zero fan mode, or as MSI calls it, ZERO FROZR. This means the card will only spin its fans when it’s needed so if you’re just browsing the internet, the GPU won’t sound like a jet engine.

MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC Graphics Card Backplate

Located on the back of the PCB is a solid and stylish metal backplate. This backplate has the MSI dragon logo as well as the Duke branding across it. The I/O has a total of 5 video outputs which include 3 x DisplayPort 1.4a ports, a single HDMI 2.0b port and a USB Type-C port for use with VirtualLink supported displays.

MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC Graphics Card Connections

When the card is powered up, the RGB LED lighting is highly noticeable and the card looks absolutely gorgeous in the flesh. Images really do not do the RTX 2080 Duke OC justice. If it wasn’t already obvious, the RTX 2080 is one of the best and highest performing gaming graphics cards on the market and this is MSI’s take on it; the RTX 2080 Ti is obviously offering better performance, but for a much heftier price. It’s time to see how the MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC performs on our test bench…

MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC Graphics Card RGB

MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC Performance

Test Setup

CPU – Intel Core i7-7700K @ Stock Settings
CPU Cooler – be quiet! Silent Loop 240mm
Motherboard – ASUS ROG Z370-E Strix
RAM – Ballistix Elite 3000MHz 16GB (2x8GB) DDR4
PSU – Corsair HX750i
OS – Windows 10 Professional 64 bit

Methodology:

All benchmarks are done on a fresh install of Windows 10 Professional 64-bit that is fully up-to-date with Windows Updates to ensure that the performance reflects a real-world scenario and not that of a tweaked benchmarking system. Every benchmark runs for a total of three times and then an average is taken of those results.

3D Benchmarks:

  • 3DMark Firestrike – Normal
  • 3DMark Time Spy – Normal

Gaming Benchmarks:

  • Ashes of The Singularity – High Preset (GPU Focused): 1080p, 1440p & 4K
  • Rise of The Tomb Raider – Very High Preset: 1080p, 1440p & 4K
  • Tom Clancy’s: The Division – Ultra Preset: 1080p, 1440p & 4K
  • Total War: WARHAMMER – Ultra Preset 1080p, 1440p & 4K

Misc Testing:

  • Idle and Load delta temperatures in Celcius
  • Overclocking performance: 3DMark Firestrike

3DMark Firestrike

3DMark Firestrike Normal GPU Performance

3DMark Time Spy

3DMark Time Spy GPU Performance

Ashes of The Singularity

AOTS 1080p AOTS 1440p AOTS 4K

Rise of The Tomb Raider

Rise of the Tomb Raider 1080p Rise of the Tomb Raider 1440p Rise of the Tomb Raider 4K

Tom Clancy’s: The Division

The Division 1080p The Division 1440p The Division 4K

Total War: WARHAMMER

Warhammer 1080p Warhammer 1440p Warhammer 4K

Graphics Card Temperatures (Delta Temp in Celcius)

GPU Temperatures Idle GPU Temperatures Load

Overclocked Performance – 3DMark Fire Strike

3DMark Firestrike Normal GPU Overclocking Performance

The MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC Review: Performance & The Verdict

The pair of tested MSI RTX 2080 cards do show a clear advantage in our 3DMark testing which is a combination of driver enhancements and pure beef as we are using the latest updated graphics drivers. This is something UL (formerly Futuremark) benchmarks are known to benefit from.

Game performance was very interesting and as a lot of people are already aware of, the RTX 2080 is effectively replacing the previous GTX 1080 Ti models of graphics cards. A lot of the time the MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC is outperforming the rest of the cards on test, but in a lot of situations the GTX 1080 Ti is running very close indeed.

One consistent fact that our testing shows is that the RTX 2080 performance is very strong at the 1080p resolution, but kicks back a little notch with the GTX 1080 Ti on its tail, if not on par at 1440p and 4K. It should be noted that driver enhancements, as well as in-game patching, can have an impact on performance and it’s certainly clear the RTX 2080 and GTX 1080 Ti are very similar in terms of performance.

As far as overclocking goes, we managed to push the MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC up to a maximum of 2006MHz boost. This equated to a +160MHz overclock on the core and we even managed an extra 400MHz on the VRAM too. Although the performance jump in 3DMark Firestrike is hardly blistering, if you’re looking for extra performance, it’s very easy to do. The new RTX cards use the new GPU Boost 4.0 which NVIDIA detail as:

GPU Boost 4.0

The algorithms used with GPU Boost 3.0 were completely inside the driver, and were not exposed to users. However, GPU Boost 4.0 now exposes the algorithms to users so they can manually modify the various curves themselves to increase performance in the GPU. The biggest benefit is in the temp domain where new inflection points have been added. Where before it was a straight line that dropped directly down to the Base Clock, the clock now holds the Boost Clock where it can be set to run longer at higher temperatures before a second temp target (T2) is reached where it will drop the clocks.

This is very interesting stuff, but we already know this technology is tedious for overclockers. GPU Boost 3.0 was good, GPU Boost 4.0 looks better and setting custom inflexion points is something which will appeal to many.

The main question is though, is the MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC the right graphics card to buy right now given Ray Tracing and DLSS are still in the early adoption phase? Let’s find out…

What’s hot:

  • Great performance all round
  • Quality cooler with good thermal performance
  • Premium graphics card suitable for 4K60 gaming
  • Looks great visually and the RGB LEDs add to the design

What’s not:

  • Very close to GTX 1080 Ti performance for a higher price premium

The MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC graphics card has a very elegant and neutral design which means it’ll fit with most components in systems such as motherboards. One thing you need to consider here is if you’re already running a GTX 1080 Ti in your system. The RTX 2080 and GTX 1080 Ti are neck and neck in most scenarios other than some synthetics and what not. If you already have a GTX 1080 Ti, don’t bother getting the RTX 2080 unless Ray Tracing is something you’re going to use as the performance difference is too close to call really.

For non GTX 1080/1080 Ti owners looking to upgrade and are building a new gaming system. The MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC offers a lot for the money when you negate the ageing GTX 1080 Ti out of the equation. The MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC looks great, performs great and it runs quiet and cool. It even has MSI’s Zero Frozr technology meaning fans will spin up only when they need to for minimal noise. The pre-applied overclock out of the box compared with an RTX 2080 Founders Edition is around 45MHz at boost clocks which isn’t that much in reality. The cooler performs better and with added RGB, it looks better too in my opinion.

If you’re looking for a new graphics card and you have a budget of £800, the new MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC is a really good example of quality, elegance and performance. The backplate which is included sets off the overall design, but you should certainly note if you’re planning to water cool that this model is a reference design with a custom aftermarket cooler on it. That’s not a bad thing of course and MSI add their stamp onto the basic RTX 2080 stock PCB. MSI quality, MSI cooling performance and MSI’s style make this card a winner.

MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC Play3r Gold Award

Thanks to MSI for sending a sample of the GeForce RTX 2080 Duke OC in for review.

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