MSI GTX 1080 Ti Gaming X 11G GPU Review

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We saw a couple of weeks ago NVIDIA released the GTX 1080 Ti which we had a chance to review. From that review we concluded it was a beast of a card, even in its Founders Edition form. Truth be told, it’s the closest thing to a single GPU solution at 4K resolution with high settings we have, and at a more reasonable price than the Titan XP or Xp or… whatever the new one is called. As with nearly every GPU released, the AIB’s get in the game giving us their take. MSI sent us the GTX 1080 Ti Gaming X 11G to review. They have updated their Twin Frozr cooling solution as well as better goodies on the PCB to deliver a quieter and better performing version of the FE 1080 Ti. Read on below to see how it shapes up!

Specifications

Below is the Specifications table showing us everything we want to know about what MSI did to pep up the Gaming X version over FE. The GP102-350 Shaders, ROPs, and TMUs remain unchanged at 3,584, 88, and 224 respectively. What does change are the clockspeeds. Whereas the FE comes in at 1480 MHz Core/1582 Boost and 11,010 MHz on the 11 GB GDDRX5 Memory. The Gaming X takes that to up to 1569 MHz Core/1683 MHz Boost in its fastest setting: OC Mode. The Memory comes in at 11,124 MHz in OC Mode. Almost a 90 MHz increase on the core and 120 MHz on the memory. Gaming mode is set a bit below this at 1544 MHz core and 1657 Mhz boost. As you will see later, there isn’t a real reason not to run this in OC Mode.

The Gaming X gives us five outputs: 2x HDMI v2.0, 2x DisplayPort v1.4, and one DVI-DL. With the two HDMI ports, the card is “VR Ready”. MSI rates the card as 250 W and requires the use of two 8-Pin PCIe connections to power the card. Also recommended is a 600 W power supply for the whole system.

The TwinFrozr VI cooler is a dual slot solution, like its predecessors, using two large (90mm?) Torx 2.0 fans blowing down through the heatsink. About the only other point to note here is the card comes in at 11.4″ long so make sure you have the room in your case to support it.

See more specifications at the MSI website!

MSI GTX 1080 Ti Gaming X 11G
Model Name / GPU GeForce® GTX 1080 Ti GAMING X 11G
Interface PCI Express x16 3.0
Core Name GP102-350
Memory Type GDDR5X
Memory Size (MB) 11264
Memory Interface 352-bit
Shaders, ROPs, TMUs 3584 Shaders, 88 ROPs, and 224 Texture Management Units
Boost / Base Core Clock 1683 MHz / 1569 MHz (OC Mode)
1657 MHz / 1544 MHz (Gaming Mode)
1582 MHz / 1480 MHz (Silent Mode)
Memory Clock (MHz) 11124 MHz (OC Mode)
11016 MHz (Gaming / Silent )

Maximum Displays

Outputs (DP/HDMI/DVI)

4 Max displays

DisplayPort x 2 (Version 1.4) / HDMI x 2 (Version 2.0) / DL-DVI-D

Max Resolution: 7680 x 4320

Multi-GPU Technology Yes 2-Way
Power consumption (W) / Power Connectors 250 W / 2x 8-pin (600 W Recommended Power Supply)
HDCP / HDMI / DL-DVI Support Yes (all three)
DirectX / OpenGL Version Support DX12_1 / Open GL 4.5
Card Dimensions (mm) 290 x 140 x 51 mm (11.4″ x 5.5″ x 2.0″)
Weight 1257 g (2.77 lbs)

Features

The Gaming X uses MSI’s Twin Frozr VI (TFVI) cooling solution which has their TORX 2.0 fans. Their special fan design is said to generate “22% more air pressure for supremely silent performance”. The fans allow more air and pressure to find its way through the heatsink achieving “new levels of cool”. The TORX 2.0 fan use double ball bearing hubs to keep the fans nearly silent and spinning that way for years.

Continuing on those lines, the TFVI also has the Zero Frozr feature which eliminates fan noise by keeping the fans off in low load situations. The fans to do not turn on until around the 60C mark so perusing the desktop or even in light loads, the fans won’t even kick on keeping your environment free of that noise until it is truly needed.

The TFVI heatsink has five copper heat pipes up to 8 mm thick which have a smooth, squared shape at the bottom in order to maximize contact with the copper base plate. This aids in getting the most heat off the toasty part. The solid base plate is nickel-plated over copper. Its function is to bring the heat from the core, to the plate, the flat heatsinks, and finally through the fin array to dissipate the heat. Once it hits the fins, their advanced aerodynamics allow that airflow to direct more air onto the TFVI heat pipes and fins to lower temperatures even more.

Last but certainly not least are the use of the Military Class 4 components. MSI uses their Hi-C Capacitors, Super Ferrite Chokes, and all Japanese solid caps. The use of MIL-STD-810G certified components will allow the card to be more durable during higher stress situations like overclocking and gaming for extended periods.

See all of these features and more at the MSI website for the 1080 Ti Gaming X!

TORX 2.0 FAN

TEAMWORK FOR GREATER STRENGTH

Just like in games, the exclusive MSI TORX 2.0 Fan technology uses the power of teamwork to allow the TWIN FROZR VI to achieve new levels of cool.

TORX 2.0 Fan design generates 22% more air pressure for supremely silent performance.

DOUBLE BALL BEARINGS

Double Ball Bearings give the unique MSI TORX 2.0 Fans a strong and lasting core for years of smooth gaming. They also remain virtually silent while spinning under load, keeping your graphics card cool during intense and lengthy gaming sessions.

ZERO FROZR-STAY UNDETECTED

First introduced in 2008 by MSI, ZeroFrozr technology has made its mark and is now the industry standard among graphics cards. It eliminates fan noise by stopping the fans in low-load situations. This means you can focus on gaming without the noise of spinning fans.

 

HEATSINK

Lurking under the cover of the GAMING graphics card is an engineering masterpiece designed to keep the graphics card cool. Every tiny detail of the intricate heatsink plays an essential part in providing a cool & quiet gaming experience.

SMOOTH HEAT PIPES

Up to 8mm thick copper heat pipes with a smooth squared shape at the bottom maximize heat transfer from the surface of the copper base plate.

SOLID BASEPLATE

To temper the heat generated by a powerful GPU, MSI GAMING series graphics cards use a solid nickel-plated copper base plate. The base plate catches the heat from the GPU and transfers it to the heat pipes for dissipation so you can keep cool.

AIRFLOW CONTROL TECHNOLOGY

Using advanced aerodynamics, Airflow Control Technology directs more air directly onto the TWIN FROZR VI heat pipes. The special deflectors on the heat sink enlarge the surface area, which means lower temperatures and better gaming.

MILITARY CLASS 4 COMPONENTS

One of the deciding factors in performance is the quality of the components used. That is why MSI only uses MIL-STD-810G certified components for cards. These components have proven durable enough to withstand the torturous circumstances of extreme gaming and overclocking for extended usage.

GPU-Z

Shown below is our always gratuitous screenshot of GPU-Z. Here it confirms the fact we are certainly dealing with a GTX 1080 Ti. The clockspeeds come in by default at the Gaming speeds.

Retail Packaging and Accessories

Below is the retail packaging for the MSI GTX 1080 Ti Gaming X 11G. Being part of the gaming line from MSI, it has the typical black and red themed packaging with a picture of the card on the front as well as the model, and some very high level features. Flipping the box over, you are greeted by more specifications and features of the card. The card sits snug inside form-fitting foal with the accessories in a separate box above it.

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Meet the MSI GTX 1080 Ti Gaming X 11G

Our first picture of the card shows the shroud and fans of the Twin Frozr VI cooling solution. Its looks similar to the 1080 and 1070 before it, certainly. The fan on the left has red around it, while the right fan and middle are black with red LEDs. The fan hubs have the MSI Gaming dragon in the middle. The back of the card has a ‘passive’ back plate in that it does not make direct contact with the PCB outside of its mount points and therefore isn’t assisting in heat dissipation. Emblazoned on it are the MSI name in white with another image of the MSI Gaming Dragon. Being red, you don’t have too much in the way of theme/color flexibility, but if it can fit your theme, it’s a good looking card.

MSI GTX 1080 Ti Gaming X 11G – Front

Back

A Twist

The Other Twist

Bottom’s Up

Top Down

Side to Side

A Closer Look

In the way of outputs, the MSI GTX 1080 Ti Gaming X 11G has everyone covered. You can see the, dare I say, nearly legacy, DL-DVI-D up top, 2x HDMI (v2.0) on the left, and 2x DisplayPort (v1.4). The VR crowd is happy as it sports the two HDMI outputs and as such it is VR Ready.

The GTX 1080 Ti is a 250 W card in reference form, so in its overclocked form, I expect it to use a bit more. To that end, MSI chose to go with a second 8-Pin instead of the 6-Pin on the Founder’s Edition. This gives you 375 W to be delivered to the card between the two 8-Pins and PCIe slot. With NVIDIA imposed limits neutering cards for years now, that is plenty with the stock bios and power limits in place.

Outputs – 2x HDMI 2.0, 2x DisplayPort 1.4, and DL-DVI-D

Dual 8-Pin Power Required

As we usually do, we took apart the card to see what is shaking underneath. The Memory is covered/cooled by a plate, while the PWM area makes its way straight to the heatsink via a couple of heatpads. Everything is covered here and made good contact.

Heatsink Removed

Card Without the Twin Froz VI Heatsink

10 Phase PWM

The last set of images in the slideshow cover closeups of the GP 102 Core, the ON Semiconductor MOSFETs, and the Micron GDDRX5.

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Monitoring/Overclocking Software – MSI Afterburner

To monitor and control your MSI card, I suggest using the latest version of their MSI Afterburner software. It’s free and can be downloaded from their website. As most know, it will monitor everything on the GPU, as well as many other components in your system. You can overclock your GPU as well as control its fans and the power limit. The application has always been stable and quite easy to use.

MSI Afterburner (Legacy Skin)

MSI’s Gaming App is a newer, lightweight, app which allows you to switch through three preset OC Modes. By default, the card comes in Gaming Mode. You can press the button to OC Mode for a slight bump in clockspeeds, or go down to a silent mode which lowers the clocks and fan profile as well. Its a handy little app to have for those that do not want to mess with MSI Afterburner.

Test System

GPU Test System
CPU Intel 7700K @ 4.2 GHz (to match previous testing)
Motherboard ASUS Maximus IX Apex
RAM 2×8 GB DDR4 GSkill Trident Z @ 3000 MHz 15-15-15-35 2T 1.35 V
Graphics Card MSI GTX 1080Ti Gaming X 11G
Stock: Core -1544 MHz, 1936 MHz (Actual Boost), / 1376 MHz Memory
Overclocked: Core – 1617 MHz, 2012 MHz (Actual Boost) / 1505 MHz Memory
Storage OCZ RD400 (512 GB)
Power Supply SeaSonic SS-1000XP (80+ Platinum)
Operating System Windows 10 x64 (Fully Updated)
Graphics Drivers 378.92
Other Equipment
Digital Multimeter, Kill-A-Watt

Benchmarking Method/Settings

Note all testing below uses 1920×1080 screen resolution (settings also carry over to 2560 x 1440, 4k UHD, and Surround/Eyefinity testing, if applicable).

All Synthetic benchmarks were at their default settings, with game benchmarks at noted settings:

  • 3DMark Fire Strike – Extreme, default setting.
  • 3DMark Time Spy – Default
  • Unigine Valley Benchmark v1.0 – 1080p, DX11, Ultra Quality, 8x AA, Full Screen
  • Unigine Heaven (HWbot) – Extreme setting
  • Crysis 3 – Very High settings with 8xMSAA/16xAF (2nd level when you procure and use the Crossbow to get across the level and kill the Helicopter)
  • Metro:LL – DX11, Very High, 16xAF, Motion Blur – Normal, SSAA Enabled, DX11 Tessellation – Very High, Advanced PhysX – Disabled, Scene D6
  • Dirt: Rally – 1080p, 8x MSAA, everything on Ultra that can be, enable Advanced Blending
  • Grand Theft Auto V – 1080p, high settings (see article below for details).
  • Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor – 1080p, everything Ultra that can be (Lighting quality High), FXAA and Camera + Object Blur, DOF/OIT/Tessellation enabled.
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider – 1080p, SSAA 4X, VSync Off, DirectX 12 On, Very High Preset
  • The Division – 1080p, Ultra Preset, VSync Off
  • Far Cry: Primal – 1080p, Ultra Preset, VSync Off
  • Ashes of the Singularity – 1080p, DX12, Crazy Preset

More details found in our article: Overclockers.com GPU Testing Procedures

GPU’s Used for Comparison:

Synthetic Benchmarks

Yay! Benchmarks! The MSI GTX 1080 Ti Gaming X 11G scored 12,877 in 3DMark Fire Strike (Extreme) easily eclipsing the Founders Edition 1080 Ti by almost 5% and giving a lead of almost 23% over an overclocked GTX 1080. Big performance in this card, people!! 3DMark Time Spy shows a strikingly similar result with the 1080 Ti Gaming X scoring 8,766, beating the FE by almost 5%, and that same GTX 1080 by over 21%.

3DMark Fire Strike and 3DMark Time Spy

Unigine Valley and Heaven show a similar spread in scores, though Heaven is now a pretty CPU-limited benchmark, making results a lot tighter. But again, its a low res bench so it relies on fast CPU speeds for these high end cards to really stretch their legs. Truth be told, this may be one of the benchmarks we’ll replace when we update our gaming/benchmarking suite.

Unigine Valley and Unigine Heaven (Hwbot)

Gaming Benchmarks

Looking at this trio of titles, everything is playable at 1080p at our ‘default’ highest settings. Even in Crysis 3 the 1080 Ti Gaming X average 84 FPS! The 1080Ti barely knows it’s running for Dirt: Rally and Metro:LL.

Crysis 3, Dirt: Rally, and Metro: Last Light

The latest Far Cry, FC: Primal, Middle Earth: SOM, and GTA V are all a breeze here averaging well over 100 FPS and nearly 190 FPS for ME:SOM!

Far Cry: Primal, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, and GTA V

About the most GPU-stressful games we have here are in this graph… OK, two of them are. Crysis should probably be in there too, especially for the look of the graph, but, that’s a different discussion altogether! Anyway, Rise of the Tomb Raider hits 91 FPS on average at our settings, while AOTS average 76 FPS. This title would see improvements with using more cores and clocks though.

Overall the 1080Ti really annihilates 1080p gaming right now averaging well over everyone’s magical 60 FPS number. I have to imagine it’s going to be close in 2560×1440, and we may our first 4K, truly playable card…

Rise of the Tomb Raider, The Division, Ashes of the Singularity

2560×1440 and 4k UHD Results

Ok, so about that 60 FPS+ thing I was talking about at 2560×1440? Well, it’s there. Yeah, that’s right, I rounded up 59.8 to 60!!! But really, these are Ultra/Highest settings you can preset in a game. Clearly, it’s a very solid 2560×1440 card.

2560 x 1440 Results

So what about 4K? Well, a couple titles take a beating dropping down to the 30 FPS “not ideal but playable” range. But that is only in Crysis 3, and ROTR. Metro: LL hits 41 FPS, while the the rest are 50-62 FPS and MS: SOM hitting nearly 80 FPS average. The good news is all of these titles are using AA, some a lot. With the pixel density of 4K, one typically doesn’t need as much (some say any) AA. So in ROTR, Crysis, and Metro, changing those settings will really help get those FPS back up well into the playable range for those titles. It’s here folks. A single card that can play most games at 4K UHD without any or minimal image quality sacrifices!!

4K UHD Results

Pushing the Limits

I’m just going to start off with the bad news here for the overclocking crowd that really likes to push things… there isn’t any voltage control. None on the flagship NVIDIA card. Boo. That said, it still overclocks plenty, at least the memory. There I was able to reach 1540 MHz or 164 MHz over the stock rated 1376 MHz. The core though, wouldn’t budge much over what I already had in the overclock section. That ended up at 1625 Mhz (base)/1739 MHz (boost) and hit actual clocks of 2020 MHz. Keeping temps lower helped prevent/delay boost bins dropping, so keep that in mind when pushing things. Cranking up the CPU to 5 GHz and Memory to 3866 MHz CL18 yielded a score of 9,522 in Time Spy. Not bad at all!

Perhaps we will see some BIOS with a higher power limit or another card with voltage control. A man can wish, right?!!

Temperatures and Power Consumption

For as much power as these use, 250W, temperatures were pretty low with the Twin Frozr VI cooler humming along, nearly silently, doing its thing. Temps peaked at 67C in my testing with the fan not going much over 50 percent at those temperatures.

Temperatures

Full system Power Consumption in our testing peaked at 450 W in 3DMark Fire Strike (Extreme) with the card overclocked. Unigine Valley, on the other hand, peaked at 406 W while overclocked. A quality 550 W Power supply is plenty to drive this card on most systems. If you are really pushing it, mainstream Intel, are on the HEDT, last-Gen AMD platforms, or run distributed apps full time, you may want to look at the MSI recommended 600 W models. Remember, always get a QUALITY Power Supply!!

Power Consumption

Conclusion

AIB’s always seem to make improvements over the venerable, but still room to make better, Founders Edition cards. That hasn’t changed here a bit. MSI updated its Twin Frozr VI cooler to fit on the more power hungry GTX 1080 Ti and made a very cool-running and very silent GTX 1080 Ti Gaming X 11G. Its factory clocks, in Gaming Mode (default) come in at 1544 MHz, nearly 100 MHz more than the FE. Memory in Gaming and Silent Modes come in at FE speeds while the OC Mode raises it a bit to around 1,390MHz or 11,124 MHz GDDR5X.

Since we are Overclockers.com, our bread and butter lay in pushing these things. If I had to gripe about the card, I would have to complain about its lack of overclocking. Now, this is not MSI’s fault, and every other AIB will have this problem too, but, without any voltage control, you are even more limited. Not that Pascal really had much wiggle room anyway, it’s still nice to have. Otherwise, even while overclocked, I didn’t hear any coil whine, the fans ramped up nicely to temperatures and was whisper quiet while gaming for hours. Nothing to complain about that is in any AIB’s control these days.

Pricing right now for the MSI GTX 1080 Ti Gaming X 11G comes in at $740 from newegg.com. FE models are coming in a hair below their MSRP ($699) at $689, while comparable models to the 11G, are from $720-$750 (think Gigabyte AORUS, and EVGA SC2 Gaming) while the highest clocked, Zotac AMP! Extreme, is $780. The card fits well with the others right in its price range, without a doubt. MSI has put out a heck of a spin on the Founders Edition 1080 Ti in their Gaming X, folks, make sure this is on your short list if you are out shopping for a 1080 Ti!

Click here to find out what this means.

– Joe Shields (Earthdog).

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Discussion
  1. Yep... but that isnt soon. I wouldnt wait several months for volta. Vega, sure, may want to keep your pants on and see how it performs and its market effect ($)... :)
    Vega may come out at computex...yep! What is NVIDIA bringing out soon?

    The card was released over a month ago. Its aimed at the enthusiast gaming crowd. Its the Gaming X line. :)