In our last 2 graphics cards reviews, we have taken a look at both the MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC and the MSI RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio graphics cards. Today is the turn of the goliath MSI RTX 2080 Ti Gaming X Trio which is the current choice for 4K gaming and the best available gaming performance. In this review, we will be taking a look at how the RTX 2080 Ti performs against the RTX 2080 and against other cards we’ve had on our graphics card test bench.
Here is what MSI has to say about their RTX 2080 Ti Gaming X Trio:
“The MSI GeForce RTX 2080 Ti GAMING X TRIO delivers the ultimate PC gaming experience. Powered by the new NVIDIA Turing GPU architecture and the revolutionary RTX platform, RTX graphics cards bring together real-time ray tracing, artificial intelligence, and programmable shading. This is a whole new way to experience games. MSI’s award-winning thermal design TRI-FROZR uses three brand new TORX 3.0 fans, which is MSI’s proprietary fan technology that combines two different types of fan blades to optimize airflow and minimize noise. The new GAMING X TRIO card uses a mix of black and gunmetal grey with elegant shapes and features a classy brushed metal backplate that matches the front, gorgeous RGB effects found on the front and the side of the card can be controlled using MSI’s Mystic Light software.”
What about the new NVIDIA Turing based technologies?
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.
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.
Now we have that out of the way, it’s time to take a look at the official specifications and see whether or not the MSI RTX 2080 Ti Gaming X Trio is the right card for you.
MSI RTX 2080 Ti Gaming X Trio Specifications & Features
|Chipset||GeForce RTX 2080 Ti|
|Edition||GAMING X TRIO|
|Manufacturing process||12 nm|
|NVIDIA Tensor Cores||544|
|Core Clock||1350 MHz|
|Boost Clock||1755 MHz|
|Memory Clock||14000 MHz|
|Memory Bus||352 Bit|
|Cooling Solution||Tri Fan (3)|
|Cooler Design||TRI-FROZR with TORX 3.0 + RGB LED|
|Interface||PCIe 3.0 (x16)|
|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|
|Low Profile Compatible||No|
|Low Profile Support||N/A|
|Graphics Card TDP/Power||300W|
|Graphics Card Power Connectors||
|Minimum Recommended PSU||650 W|
|Maximum GPU Temperature||89 °C|
|Dimensions||140 x 55.6 x 327 mm|
MSI RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio Closer Look
On the surface, the MSI RTX 2080 Ti Gaming X Trio is near identical to the card we previously reviewed, the MSI RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio. The card is equipped with the Gaming X Trio ZERO FROZR cooler which cools the custom RTX 2080 Ti PCB with a total of 3 TORX 3.0 fans. These are designed to provide optimal cooling, spinning when needed and idle when, well idling. The dimensions of the card with the equipped cooler is 327 x 140 x 55.6mm (WxDxH) which is the same dimensions as the virtually identical MSI RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio as previously stated. This card covers 2.75 slots which technically makes this a triple slot cooler.
One of the best things in terms of the design is the included backplate. This adds contrast to the black and silver Gaming X Trio cooler and in a system with RGB lighting, should create a cool glare from the backplate. Not only this, but the backplate is designed to help cool the components on the rear of the PCB. It has detailed grooves where airflow can enter and escape. The backplate is finished off with an MSI logo and MSI Gaming Dragon shield.
On the I/O of the MSI RTX 2080 Ti Gaming X Trio is a total of 5 connectors. These include three regular DisplayPort 1.4a ports, 1 x HDMI 2.0b port and a VirtualLink USB-C connector for VR head-mounted display (HMD).
One of the major elements to consider when looking at this card is the required power inputs. This custom PCB uses 2 x 8-pin and 1 x 6-pin power connectors which combined allow the card to pull 450W of power from the power supply. MSI recommend you use a power supply rated at 650W as the bare minimum.
Moving back to the design, the RTX 2080 Ti Gaming X Trio does have RGB LED lighting and oh boy, it looks amazing when lit up. These LEDs can be controlled using MSI’s Mystic Light software. Below is an image of it powered up in our test system.
Now that we have seen what the card looks like and the specifications, it’s time to see how it performs on our test bench.
MSI RTX 2080 Ti Gaming X Trio Performance
CPU – Intel Core i7-7700K @ Stock Settings
CPU Cooler – be quiet! Silent Loop 280mm
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.
- 3DMark Firestrike – Normal
- 3DMark Time Spy – Normal
- 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
- Idle and Load delta temperatures in Celcius
- Overclocking performance: 3DMark Time Spy
3DMark Time Spy
Ashes of The Singularity
Rise of The Tomb Raider
Tom Clancy’s: The Division
Total War: WARHAMMER
Graphics Card Temperatures (Delta Temp in Celcius)
Overclocked Performance – 3DMark Fire Strike
The MSI RTX 2080 Ti Gaming X Trio Review: Performance & The Verdict
It’s clear from the testing that the MSI RTX 2080 Ti is a force to be reckoned with. It’s a beast and compared to the lower spec RTX 2080, it’s highly impressive. Usually, when we overclock graphics cards, we do this manually but MSI has a new tool in its arsenal. This is called the OC Scanner which is a function of the MSI Afterburner utility. It’s in a beta stage currently but it can be downloaded from here.
Here is what MSI has to say about the OC Scanner technology which MSI Afterburner features:
“The OC Scanner is essentially a tool that uses an algorithm developed by NVIDIA for the RTX 20 series graphics cards. Within just a few minutes it will run a process that will determine the highest stable overclock settings for your graphics card. The process consists out of the same basic steps as manual overclocking, being: increasing clock speed by one step, then stressing the GPU to see if this clock speed is stable. If the clock speed is stable under load, the clock speed will be upped by another step and the GPU will be stressed once more. This process repeats itself until the GPU fails to maintain stability under load. At that point, the last known stable clock speed will be set as the maximum value.
This process will repeat itself 4 times to cover 4 different Voltage levels. It does this because the OC Scanner algorithm uses the so-called Voltage/Frequency Curve. This curve works by matching the values of clock speeds to corresponding values of voltage that can sustain those clock speeds. By doing this you will get a curve where higher voltages are required to run at higher clock speeds. Out of the box the last few generations of graphics cards have used this curve. What OC Scanner does is to see how far the curve can be safely adjusted to provide higher clock speeds.”
For our overclocking performance test, we used the OC Scanner in conjunction with the MSI Afterburner software and achieved a positive result. Performance in 3DMark Time Spy jumped from 12804 to 13118 which is around 2.5% for those wondering. The overclock on top of the already overclocked card was +165MHz on the core. The OC Scanner utility doesn’t overclock VRAM and this needs to be done manually.
Time to see whether or not the MSI RTX 2080 Ti is a worthwhile purchase for gamers looking for top performance, or if it’s too expensive at £1199!
- Fantastic out of the box performance!
- ZERO FROZR technology means its silent when idling and isn’t that loud at full load
- Slightly more expensive than the Founders Edition, but it’s worth it in comparison for the Gaming X Trio cooler
- OC Scanner is developed by MSI and is a great utility for novices
- Backplate is good quality and an anti-sag brace is included in the box
- Looks great, especially in the dark with the RGB LEDs
- RTX 2080 Ti’s are expensive, very expensive!
- Memory isn’t overclocked out of the box
- No need for the extra 6-pin connector as it draws enough power from the 2 x 8-pins
The first point I want to raise really is the value aspect of the RTX 2080 Tis in general. With a flagship product in any range, you’re going to pay a hefty premium for attaining the best performance currently possible. This is the case with this card and as far as value goes against over RTX 2080 Ti’s, then the MSI RTX 2080 Ti Gaming X Trio is one of the best value ones out of the bunch. It’s also one of the best looking too for what its worth.
The RTX 2080 Ti vs RTX 2080 Debate
When comparing the performance. As it stands from a price point of view, the MSI RTX 2080 Ti Gaming X Trio can be bought for £1200. This is £400 more than the previous MSI RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio and MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC models. The price is 1.5x, but the performance doesn’t reflect this, hence the usual price premium for opting for the top performance NVIDIA model.
All this aside, the Turing architecture does offer great benefits with Ray Tracing and DLSS technologies. The RTX 2080 Ti is the top performing gaming card currently on the market and the MSI RTX 2080 Ti Gaming X Trio is one of the best examples of this. It looks fantastic with an all-metal design. It also feels very well built and with the inclusive anti-sag bracket, MSI wants you to have the very best you can when you buy their products, that much is clear.
Overall if I had to recommend a new graphics card, the MSI RTX 2080 Ti Gaming X Trio certainly makes that particular shortlist. The main question is whether or not you’re gaming at 4K resolutions and if not, would the RTX 2080 not make a better purchase? I will leave that up to you to decide for yourselves, but the MSI RTX 2080 Ti Gaming X Trio is a thing of beauty.
It performs great and if you’re looking for an RTX 2080 Ti for some ray tracing action when more games eventually adopt this technology, there’s no reason not to opt for this particular model. Value is subjective and here I believe the RTX 2080 to be the better buy for 1080/1440p gamers. On the other hand, 4K gaming is a different kettle of fish. It’s a beast of a card and deserves our Gold Award and it gets a big thumbs up from us!
Thanks to MSI for sending a sample of the RTX 2080 Ti Gaming X Trio in for review.