MSI RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio Graphics Card Review

Our second review of the new RTX based GeForce graphics cards from NVIDIA is the MSI RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio. The RTX series offers functionality for the latest Ray Tracing technologies as well as DLSS super sampling for an in-depth and unparalleled experience. The new RTX 2080 is also based on NVIDIA’s new Turing graphics architecture.

From our last look at a graphics card which was also from MSI, the MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC graphics card review, we noted that performance was on par and somewhat is identical to the previous GTX 1080 Ti range of graphics cards. One very welcomed difference from the MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC and this RTX 2080 Gaming Trio X model is the use of a custom PCB on the latter. Let’s take a look at the new NVIDIA technologies and the technical specifics of this new performance gaming model.

What Ray Tracing is 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.

What is 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.

MSI RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio Specifications & Features

Chipset GeForce RTX 2080
Manufacturing process 12 nm
Microarchitecture Turing
Cores 2944
Streams N/A
NVIDIA Tensor Cores N/A
Core Clock 1515 MHz
Boost Clock 1860 MHz
Memory Size 8GB
Memory Type GDDR6
Memory Clock 14000 MHz
Memory Bus 256 Bit
Cooling Solution Tri Fan (3)
Cooler Design TRI-FROZR with TORX 3.0 + RGB LED
Included/Fitted Backplate Yes
Interface PCIe 3.0 (x16)
  • 3 x DisplayPort 1.4
  • 1 x HDMI 2.0b
  • 1 x USB Type-C (VirtualLink)
Maximum Digital Resolution 7680×4320 @ 60Hz (8K UHD)
Maximum Analog (VGA) Resolution N/A
Max. Concurrent Displays 4 Displays
Multi-Way Graphics Support 2-Way NVLink
Real-Time Ray Tracing Yes
GeForce GTX VR Ready Yes
Microsoft DirectX Support 12 API
HDCP Ready Yes
Width 2.75 Slot
Low Profile Compatible No
Low Profile Support N/A
Graphics Card TDP/Power 250W
Graphics Card Power Connectors 2 x 8-pin PCIe
Minimum Recommended PSU 650 W
Maximum GPU Temperature 88 °C
Dimensions 140 x 55.6 x 327 mm
Package Type Retail

MSI RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio Closer Look

The MSI RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio features a triple fan cooler and has the ZERO FROZR design. This means the card uses a no load no fan spin policy which is perfect for gamers who care as much about noise performance as they do about frame rates. The cooler has a total of three TORX 3.0 fans for impeccable cooling performance and the heatsink itself coupled with the cards PCB takes three slots! This card is certainly massive in size and is similar to the MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC. The official specifications state the card is 327x140x55.6mm in size (WxDxH).

MSI RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio Graphics Card Overview

MSI has used a fully custom PCB with the RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio and as such, has a 10+2 digital power phase design. To power the card you need to use 2 x 8-pin VGA power inputs to power it and MSI themselves recommend using a 650W power supply with this card.

MSI RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio Graphics Card Backplate

On the back of the card is a solid and stylish gunmetal grey backplate which not only reinforces the cards build quality overall, but it looks good visually and helps remove some of the heat. The backplate is solid metal and has an MSI Gaming Dragon logo towards the end of the card. It has various cut-outs which follow the cards design, but I expect this to also help with cooling as air can get directly to the PCB.

MSI RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio Graphics Card Rear IO

Connectivity is provided by three DisplayPort 1.4a ports, a single HDMI 2.0b port and a VirtualLink connector. The VirtualLink connector uses the USB Type-C interface and can be used with a VR HMD such as the Oculus Rift.

MSI RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio Graphics Card Cooler Edge

Around the entirety of the card is RGB LED lighting, four specific zones to be exact. These are located in the centre of the card along the edge of the Gaming X Trio cooler and around the centre fan at the top and bottom. The cooler features a black and grey plastic shroud which looks very nice indeed. The fan blades are jet black and the centre of each fan features a silver MSI dragon logo.

Speaking of the LED lighting, here is a shot of the card powered up and oh baby, it looks absolutely gorgeous. MSI is usually good at making graphics cards look classy, but the RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio takes it to another level, even more than the MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC in my opinion.

MSI RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio Graphics Card RGB Lighting

Here is an image gallery of different angles of the MSI RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio graphics card:

All-in-all the MSI RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio looks majestic and powerful, but it’s time to see how it compares to the RTX 2080 Duke OC and other cards we’ve previously tested.

MSI RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio 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


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 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

RotR 1080p RotR 1440p RotR 4K

Tom Clancy’s: The Division

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


Total War WARHAMMER 1080p Total War WARHAMMER 1440p Total War WARHAMMER 4K

Graphics Card Temperatures (Delta Temp in Celcius)

GPU Temperatures Idle GPU Temperatures Load

Overclocked Performance – 3DMark Fire Strike

3DMark Firestrike GPU Overclocked Performance

The MSI RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio Review: Performance & The Verdict

The differences in performance between the MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC and this RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio model up for review today are very marginal indeed. The main show of strength from the Gaming X Trio model is that it runs quite a bit cooler than the RTX 2080 Duke OC by a total of 7 degrees Celcius. This is quite a difference under full load and when overclocked, the custom PCB and larger power capability of the RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio meant it could overclock further and allowed it to perform better in 3DMark Fire Strike.

The new RTX cards use the new GPU Boost 4.0 and here is how NVIDIA describes their automatic overclocking technology:

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.

Looking at the rest of the performance and it’s pretty much the same conclusion as it was in our MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC review. The overall performance is close to the previous GTX 1080 Ti models, but not identical. The RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio has the advantage of having a solid 10+2 VRM, HDMI 2.0b and DisplayPort 1.4 outputs and has better cooling than the Duke OC series model.

What’s hot:

  • Runs cooler than MSI’s own RTX 2080 Duke OC
  • Has a custom PCB with a 10+2 VRM power phase
  • Ray Tracing and DLSS ARE GOOD to future proof for
  • Quiet during gaming
  • HDMI 2.0b, dual DisplayPort 1.4 and VirtualLink on the rear I/O
  • Priced competitively against other RTX 2080’s

What’s not:

  • Raw performance too close to a GTX 1080 Ti

It’s clear that the MSI RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio is a beast worthy of being placed inside anyone’s gaming machine, but it’s hard to recommend if you’re running a GTX 1080 Ti. Gamers intending to make use of Ray Tracing and the new DLSS super-sampling and expecting consistent frame rates at 1440p and 4K are going to be hard pushed to find anything better; aside from the RTX 2080 Ti Gaming X Trio which we will be reviewing next GPU wise.

The coolest thing (see what I did there?) about the RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio is the very cool black and grey design of the cooler. It’s a high powered and low noise beast which even at full load, is pretty quiet making this one of the best-cooled graphics cards we have ever seen at Play3r. It has Zero FROZR technology which means the fans stop when the card is idling; a good feature all-in-all not just for acoustics but also improving the lifespan of the fans. The RGB looks fantastic too and our images really don’t do justice to the card’s gorgeousness.

Overall if you’re looking for a brand new graphics card and your budget is around £800, MSI has two RTX 2080 models to select from. These are the RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio and the previously reviewed RTX 2080 Duke OC. Which do I prefer? The Gaming X Trio for the same price features a custom PCB, a better performing heatsink and personally, it looks a little better (personal preference). Performance wise though, there isn’t much to choose from and you wouldn’t be making the wrong choice by buying either model. There’s stiff competition from ASUS, GIGABYTE and other brands like EVGA, but the MSI RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio looks the best out of them all.

For £800, the MSI RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio is a superb graphics card all around and is worthy of your money if you don’t already have a GTX 1080 Ti in your system!

MSI RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio Play3r Gold Award

MSI RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio Play3r Design Award

Thanks to MSI for sending a sample of the RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio in for review.

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msi-rtx-2080-gaming-x-trio-graphics-card-reviewFor £800, the MSI RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio is a superb graphics card all around and is worthy of your money if you don't already have a GTX 1080 Ti in your system!

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