Although we all thought that the recently released Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1080 Ti would probably the last GPU for this generation, representing the next step form the regular GeForce GTX 1080 and which brings in a serious performance bump as you’ll see later on, they’ve surprised us with Titan XP announcement, but despite it I’m still sticking with the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti as aftermarket versions are finally popping out, one which is the MSI Gaming X version in front of me.
Of course, with MSI GTX 1080 Ti Gaming X carrying that series name, you can expect all the bells and whistles which we usually see when it comes to Gaming X line-up, with the bundle being a tad more generous than usual, where you will beside your user manuals, optical disc with drivers and software and a thank you note, also get this 6-pin to 8-pin PCI-express power adapter. And here’s the graphics card itself.
Fattening up the GTX 1080 Ti Gaming X cooler
Aesthetics wise, the design of the graphics card from the outside on first glance seem to be completely the same as seen on their other GPU series which also carry the 6th Generation of Gaming X series and Twin Frozr Cooler design. We have your recognizable black and red plastic top shroud, with red LED’s on the back, glowing MSI RGB LED Dragon logo, and a GeForce GTX naming on the side, that last thing is a new add-on for this series, usually you don’t see that on an aftermarket cooler and as I saw all other aftermarket GeForce GTX 1080 Ti have that GeForce GTX logo too, so I would guess nVidia’s put their fingers on it and in some way made board partners do so.
Hidden beneath that outer shell we have a custom mat black PCB accompanied by this pretty beefy aluminum heat-sink. As you can probably notice it’s really thick and long, more than we usually encounter on their other Gaming X model, even the higher-end ones, so the card is a bit taller than your classical dual-slot design, while its length is around 29 cm. That heat-sink is almost completely covering the length of the graphics card from front to back and intertwined with 6 heat-pipes, making direct contact with components in few places, particularly the GPU and VRM’s which are a part of the 8+2 power design and their Military Class components, everything worthy of a card priced like this.
MSI also doubled up plates with GTX 1080 Ti Gaming X, so besides the expected back-plate on the bottom side, with its usual dragon graphics, textured finish and details in a form of these cutouts, we also have a plate which surrounds the GPU from the top side, sandwiched between the heat-sink and PCB, and which directly goes onto the GDDR5x video memory additional taking the heat off it, while it also bumps up the rigidity of the card as it hooks up to the I/O shield on the front. Topping it off, we have a pair of MSI’s 100 mm Torx 2.0 fans which are bringing in the cool air on the aforementioned components.
For powering up this beast of a card we have two 8-pin PCI-express power connectors on the back end, while on the front, beside the two SLI bridge connections, you also find a pretty common array video outputs, three DisplayPort, one HDMI, and one DVI-D.
MSI GTX 1080 Ti Gaming X is a shader behemot
Finally, it’s time to take this monster out for a spin. Compared to the regular GeForce GTX 1080, the Ti version has a whopping 1024 shaders or 40% more of them, that’s a total of 3584, but with that nVidia also lowered down its base core clock speed for around 150 MHz, at least in case of the MSI’s Gaming Mode profile. Although that sounds like as a significant decrease, thanks to Nvidia’s GPU Boost 3.0 technology in practice the average achieved core clock actually wasn’t any different compared to my review of MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming X model, roaming around just above the 1900 MHz mark when using MSI’s OC Mode profile with which I did all of my testings, and that’s roughly 100 MHz lower than compared to the next below it in the line – the GTX 1070 Ti. That coupled with other upgrades, like the fact that we have 11 GB of GDDRX5 video memory, wider 352-bit memory interface and 1000 MHz faster effective video memory clock than compared to GeForce GTX 1080, it launches GeForce GTX 1080 Ti up high in terms of the performance even just in theory.
Looking at the benchmarking results you can right away confirm that it truly is like that, MSI GTX 1080 Ti Gaming X goes through everything without breaking a sweat. I’ve skipped testing it out in 1080p as after all this a no-compromise graphics card that without a problem outputs high frames for 1440p 21:9 or 16:9 resolutions as you can see it here, I doubt that someone will buy it for playing at 1080p, while 4K shouldn’t be a problem either, especially with this amount of video memory and raw horsepower.
As you probably noticed in the graphs, incorporating some manual overclocking into the formula, you can easily squeeze out a frame or two more, and in the case of this particular sample, I managed to go over the 2000 MHz threshold for the GPU, anywhere from about 20-50 MHz extra on top of it, depending on the game and thermals, while memory was clocking at around 1520 MHz or just above the 12 GHz mark effectively.
On a count of the higher CUDA core number the overall TDP also goes up, although the GPU temperature itself isn’t any different compared to the GeForce GTX 1080 or other lower tier models, even with the very similar fan speed at full load, but then again you have to count in the fact that it has a bigger and more capable cooler than them. The heat which this GPU and its surrounding components produce is pretty significant and you can actually feel the sheer warmth which comes of off it. Still, despite that, the GPU was mostly around 70°C mark in games and under Furmark. As it’s a 40% jump in shaders number, it’s no wonder that the amount of heat is more noticeable and you can also come to that conclusion based on the fact that on an open testbed it was struggling at idle to keep the temperature below to threshold of turning the fans on. It roamed anywhere from 55 – 62°C, the upper number being the threshold limit for the fans to turn on, which again lowered down the temperatures and which again lead to fans turning off, and basically it was a looped cycle, repeating every minute or so as you can see it here from this GPUz screenshot, so overall the Zero Frozr feature was toggling the fans on and off, while I assume in a chassis it could be even harder to keep them off unless you have a really well ventilated one.
The GTX 1080 Ti Gaming X keeps its cool despite all that power
The noise which the fans make is still considered almost whisper quiet, even though they spin anywhere from 1200 to 1300 RPM, but they actually aren’t the most audible sound making parts. To coil whine, at least in this sample, was pretty noticeable on an open testbed, basically throughout the whole range of games and particularly in synthetic video card benchmarks like 3DMark which is known for bringing out the worst out of graphics card when it comes to coil whine.
Lastly, with now pretty established and recognized MSI Gaming App you can control your reloaded core clock profiles, Dragon Eye recording feature, on-screen display information for the MSI GTX 1080 Ti Gaming X cad, turn on or off the Zero Frozr feature and so on, and of course control the LED’s, change different effects or colors, just have in mind that only the logo on the side has RGB LED’s.
All in all, this is one really fast and capable graphics card series, ready to take on any challenge you throw at it for at least the next two years. Yes, it’s pricey, but you need to have in mind that you’re getting 20-30% performance gain at basically the same price tag which was up until reserved for the regular GeForce GTX 1080. I hope my MSI GTX 1080 Ti Gaming X review helped you out a bit making your final purchasing decision, if you have any questions feel free to leave them in my YouTube video listed above, or you can contact me via social media channels!