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MSI GeForce RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio Review: a Cooler and Quieter Turing

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Manufacturer: MSI

Our First Look

Over the years, the general trend for new GPU launches, especially GPUs from new graphics architecture is to launch only with the "reference" graphics card designs, developed by AMD or NVIDIA. While the idea of a "reference" design has changed over the years, with the introduction of NVIDIA's Founders Edition cards, and different special edition designs at launch from AMD like we saw with Vega 56 and Vega 64, generally there aren't any custom designs from partners available at launch.

However with the launch of NVIDIA's Turing architecture, in the form of the RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti, we've been presented with an embarrassment of riches in the form of plenty of custom cooler and custom PCB designs found from Add-in Board (AIB) Manufacturers.

Today, we're taking a look at our first custom RTX 2080 design, the MSI RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio.

MSI GeForce RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio
Base Clock Speed 1515 MHz
Boost Clock Speed 1835 MHz
Memory Clock Speed 7000 MHz GDDR6
Outputs DisplayPort x 3 (v1.4) / HDMI 2.0b x 1 / USB Type-C x1 (VirtualLink)
Dimensions

12.9-in x 5.5-in x 2.1-in (327 x 140 x 55.6 mm)

Weight 3.42 lbs (1553 g)
Price $849.99

Introduced with the GTX 1080 Ti, the Gaming X Trio is as you might expect, a triple fan design, that makes up MSI's highest performance graphics card offering.

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Click here to continue reading our review of the MSI GeForce RTX 2080 Gaming X TRio

Comparing the RTX 2080 to the GTX 1080 Ti Gaming X Trio, we can see a similar design language with the asymmetrical fan size design, but with some subtle refinements.

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The most significant change with the RTX 2080 model is, of course, the addition of programmable RGB lighting zones across the front and the top of the card. 

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Although, while the top of the card RGB zone is programmable, the "MSI GeForce RTX" nameplate features some unfortunate red accents that may clash with your intended color scheme.

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To accommodate an NVLink bridge for multi-GPU support, you must unscrew and remove part of the shroud, allowing the bridge to clear the height of the graphics card. I think this is a nice detail, allowing the vast majority of users who won't use a multi-GPU setup to have a cohesive visual design but without limiting the users who do want to go in that direction.

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The MSI GeForce RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio moves from the 8-pin plus 6-pin connector found on the RTX 2080 Founders Edition to a dual 8-pin design.

One thing is for sure; the MSI RTX Gaming X Trio isn't a small graphics card. At over 12" long, 5.5" wide, and occupying the height of 3 PCI Express slots, potential buyers will have to take a hard look at their PC chassis to make sure they have the available physical space for this graphics card.

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Due to its massive size, and 3.4 lb weight, MSI has included a graphics card brace in the box with the RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio. This brace attaches to an available expansion card slot in the back of your chassis, and provides support along the entire length of the graphics card, helping prevent the dreaded GPU sag.

Performance

With just a 35 MHz difference between the rated boost clock speeds on the RTX 2080 Founders Edition versus the MSI RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio, there is likely to very little performance difference between these two cards in a stock configuration. 

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While the MSI RTX 2080 Ti is a bit faster than the NVIDIA RTX 2080 Founders Edition, it still doesn't close the gap between the RTX 2080 and the GTX 1080 Ti in affected titles, such as GTA V and 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra.

Overclocking

With NVIDIA including a 90MHz overclock out of the box on their Founders Edition cards, the competition is more stiff for third-party manufacturers looking to differentiate their products. The increased cooling capacity of the MSI RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio, however, should provide additional overclocking headroom.

First, let's take a look at what clock speeds and temperatures the MSI RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio is hitting in its stock configuration.

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At stock, the MSI RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio levels out to a clock speed of 1935 MHz during our testing in the Unigine Heaven benchmark. Compared to the RTX 2080 Founders Edition, which dipped below 1900 MHz in the same test, we see a slight advantage to the increased cooling capacity of the MSI RTX 2080. 

Speaking of which, temperatures for the stock MSI RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio sit at 66 degrees Celsius under a sustained load, compared to 70 degrees for the Founders Edition.

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Applying a manual overclock, we got an achieved an additional 110 MHz GPU offset for the GPU, as well as a 500MHz overclock for the GDDR6 memory. This results in sustained clock speeds of 2025 MHz under load, very similar to the 2040 MHz we saw with the Founders Edition.

Considering the temperature between stock and overclocked states didn't change, from around 65 degrees Celsius, this points to the overclocking limit we hit being due to the silicon lottery, and not the design of the MSI RTX 2080.

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This additional overclocked helped the MSI RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio gain a 1-3% advantage over the RTX 2080 Founders Edition.

Another data point we gathered was comparing our manual overclock to the one automatically generated by the NVIDIA Scanner functionality built into the latest beta version of MSI Afterburner.

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Please note the axis of this graph, which starts at 2000 instead of zero, to illustrate the difference between scenarios.

The difference between the NVIDIA Scanner results and our manual overclock are less than I expected, about 15 MHz. Given the time saved by using NVIDIA Scanner, I would recommend this option as opposed to manual tuning for the vast majority of users.

An interesting note in the overclocking department, currently you can only apply a maximum of 110% power target on this MSI RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio, while we've seen power targets of 119% for the Founders Edition, as well as slightly higher power targets for other partner cards. We're not sure what the cause of this is, and have asked MSI for further clarification.

Editor's Note: MSI has responded to our inquiry about the power target limits. The MSI RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio has a higher factory base power limit than other cards like the RTX 2080 Founders Edition. The available 110% maximum power target on this card will still reach the same maximum power limits as all other RTX 2080s.

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Just like the fantastic temperate results from the MSI RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio come impressive sound level results. In both stock and OC states, the MSI card is almost two dBA quieter than the RTX 2080 Founders Edition, and six dBA (or half as loud) as the GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition.

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MSI's Zero Frozr technology also keeps the two of the fans off until the GPU hits 56C and the other until it hits 60C, which helps quiet down your PC when not gaming, and worked just as advertised in our testing.

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At $849, the MSI RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio has a $50 price premium over NVIDIA's Founders Edition RTX 2080 cards. For that extra $50, MSI is providing substantially quieter performance, at much lower temperatures, even when overclocked and under load.

As long as your chassis can fit the substantial size, the MSI RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio would be a good option for buyers set on an RTX 2080 but are more conscious about heat in their chassis, and sound levels while gaming.

Review Terms and Disclosure
All Information as of the Date of Publication
How product was obtained: The product is on loan from MSI for the purpose of this review.
What happens to the product after review: The product remains the property of MSI but is on extended loan for future testing and product comparisons.
Company involvement: MSI had no control over the content of the review and was not consulted prior to publication.
PC Perspective Compensation: Neither PC Perspective nor any of its staff were paid or compensated in any way by MSI for this review.
Advertising Disclosure: MSI has purchased advertising at PC Perspective during the past twelve months.
Affiliate links: This article contains affiliate links to online retailers. PC Perspective may receive compensation for purchases through those links.
Consulting Disclosure: MSI is not a current client of Shrout Research for products or services related to this review. 

September 21, 2018 | 05:21 PM - Posted by elites2012

i really could not see the difference in the 1080ti and 2080. the only thing i can see that it does is, 4k at a higher fps and RT. i guess im not that much into fps and eye candy to be paying a rent mortgage note on a video card.

September 21, 2018 | 06:31 PM - Posted by Anonymously Anonymous (not verified)

"Just buy it"

/

September 21, 2018 | 06:32 PM - Posted by Anonymously Anonymous (not verified)

"Just buy it"

/(joke)

September 22, 2018 | 12:18 PM - Posted by rgbyourlife.org/op-ed/why-i-hate-rgb=hellstrom_j%457421 (not verified)

its because there isn't any difference (promises* don't count), except for the price and sku changes, which are significant to say the least, and something I feel that reviewers aren't addressing. The overall price changes are the most noteworthy aspect of this launch. The performance increases that these cards promise, do not currently exist, and there is no guarantee that they ever will. And the performance that they do offer, we have already. So again, the most noteworthy aspect of this gpu launch are the price increases.

using nvidia as a reference, traditionally the 2080 would have been called the 2070 and sold for approximately half the price of the previous generations top "Ti" card. What we're seeing now is the xx70 assuming the role of the xx80 cards, along with their price point. If that weren't enough, Nvidia thought itd be a good idea to raise the price of the xx80 line of cards as well. Just for good measure.

they have effectively doubled the msrp of their entire product line all in one fell swoop. All without offering ANY tangible increase in performance. again, promises* don't count. i was once told that santy clause was real, and no matter how hard i believed, it just wasn't true.

"help us lisa su...you're our only hope"

*the term "promise" is perhaps even too optimistic for this situation as well. it would imply that nvidia have control over said situation, which of course they do not. They are just one half of the equation, and even that may be an over estimation as they have absolutely zero say in one of the most important aspects of video gaming: Consoles.

September 22, 2018 | 12:18 PM - Posted by rgbyourlife.org/op-ed/why-i-hate-rgb=hellstrom_j%457421 (not verified)

its because there isn't any difference (promises* don't count), except for the price and sku changes, which are significant to say the least, and something I feel that reviewers aren't addressing. The overall price changes are the most noteworthy aspect of this launch. The performance increases that these cards promise, do not currently exist, and there is no guarantee that they ever will. And the performance that they do offer, we have already. So again, the most noteworthy aspect of this gpu launch are the price increases.

using nvidia as a reference, traditionally the 2080 would have been called the 2070 and sold for approximately half the price of the previous generations top "Ti" card. What we're seeing now is the xx70 assuming the role of the xx80 cards, along with their price point. If that weren't enough, Nvidia thought itd be a good idea to raise the price of the xx80 line of cards as well. Just for good measure.

they have effectively doubled the msrp of their entire product line all in one fell swoop. All without offering ANY tangible increase in performance. again, promises* don't count. i was once told that santy clause was real, and no matter how hard i believed, it just wasn't true.

"help us lisa su...you're our only hope"

*the term "promise" is perhaps even too optimistic for this situation as well. it would imply that nvidia have control over said situation, which of course they do not. They are just one half of the equation, and even that may be an over estimation as they have absolutely zero say in one of the most important aspects of video gaming: Consoles.

September 22, 2018 | 12:22 PM - Posted by hey!imdumb (not verified)

sry dbl post

September 21, 2018 | 10:50 PM - Posted by Padinn (not verified)

Very interested to see if they plan to update and power target

September 22, 2018 | 02:58 AM - Posted by Sandy (not verified)

When upside down, the msi dragon logo looks like a frowning ape.

September 25, 2018 | 02:39 AM - Posted by donut (not verified)

He looks pissed for paying too much for RTX.

September 22, 2018 | 03:04 AM - Posted by svenwagner07 (not verified)

Why don´t you take an OC Version of GTX 1080 ti vs the MSI RTX 2080 Oc ? Testing with the founders is unfair-cause the GTX 1080 ti Founders falls from 2000 to 1500Mhz under Stress,caused by the one fan that is only installed .

September 22, 2018 | 01:12 PM - Posted by FlatliningWithCrashCart (not verified)

Even the water cooled versions of the GTX 1080Ti are selling for less so that's something to consider unitl the gaming titles begin to make use of all the RTX 2080's new IP.

September 22, 2018 | 12:45 PM - Posted by koma

Neat, thanks for the review. Any comments on power consumption?

September 22, 2018 | 01:14 PM - Posted by FlatliningWithCrashCart (not verified)

GamersNexus is the goto for any Power testing along with GN's/Buildzoid's VRM/Overclocking analysis!

September 23, 2018 | 05:25 AM - Posted by Jann5s

tbh, pcper is one of the few outlets that have reported on the power draw from the pci-e slot. The only other I know if is TH, which for obvious reasons is a bit tainted now.

September 23, 2018 | 08:35 PM - Posted by WhyJustWhyIsThereAnyNeed (not verified)

What does PCPer's reporting on a PCIe power issue that all the other sites also knew about have directly to do with the statment about GamersNexus doing more power/thermals related testing ->In General<- than most of the other sites.

GamersNexus still focuses a lot more on power/thermals testing and power distribution for GPU cards, MBs, and gaming PC/NUC cases(thermals/airflow) than the majority of other sites. GamersNexus even gets Buildzoid's(Actually Hardcore Overclocking) input on GPU/MB VRMs with a focus on Overclocking potential. GamersNexus also does more GPU card modding and customizied cooling testing than most other websites with the exception of Der8auer, who is actually an engineer for caseking and also has his own line of LN2 cooling and delidding products for overclockers.

There was no attempt in that previous post to point to PCper specifically so why do you have a need jump in and discuss PCPer specifically. GamersNexus has its focus on more power related/thermal related testing and that's a good thing that complements any other websites' testing for mostly gaming performance that most websites focus on.

GamersNexus has differentiated itself even more by regularly performing GPU, CPU, NUC related cooling and other related Modding with more focus on Overclocking with those GPU(AIO cooling/other), CPU(Delidding/TIM etc.), NUC(AIO Cooling Mod) modifications in place and testing for any related power/thermal related performance improvments.
That also includes related CPU/GPU AIO SKU watercooling teardowns and comparsions.

PCIe slot power delivery is not really there as the main source of GPU's card power on most PCIe card based GPUs and any GPU overclocking power is supposed to come from the GPU's Power connector pins. If the GPU card in question has skimped on the power delivery then that specific GPU SKU is no good for overclocking anyways so Buildzoid is not likely to waste his time on that for any sort of overclocking usage, Ditto for GN. GN and everybody else will call out any GPU maker if they skimp enough on their card's power delivery to the point of having to rely too much on what little power the PCIe slot provides.

September 27, 2018 | 07:52 AM - Posted by Aimee

Why don´t you take an OC Version of GTX 1080 ti vs the MSI RTX 2080 Oc ? Testing with the founders is unfair-cause the GTX 1080 ti Founders falls from 2000 to 1500Mhz under Stress,caused by the one fan that is only installed.
https://www.peryourhealth.org/

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