MSI RTX 3080 SUPRIM X Review: Ampere Supreme?

Our next review will cover the MSI RTX 3080 Suprim X (pronounced /so͞oˈprēm/, like Supreme). The Suprim X lineup resides above the Gaming X cards relegating those SKUs to second in front of the Ventus line. The new GPU series features dual BIOS capability, a new Twin Frozr 2S heat sink, higher TGP than the Gaming X Trio line, and robust power delivery to support the additional power draw.

The MSI RTX 3080 Suprim performed well in our testing. Compared with the Asus ROG Strix RTX 3080 we reviewed, the Suprim traded punches with its competitor winning some games and losing others. Overall the card was quiet during testing and a longer gaming session. Priced at $899, it is the most expensive RTX 3080 we’ve seen so far. Read on for more details about the card, how it performed during testing, and what we got out of it when overclocking.

Specifications and Features

Nvidia RTX 3000 Series Specifications
Model RTX 3090 RTX 3080 SUPRIM RTX 3080 RTX 3070
Architecture Ampere
(GA102)
Ampere
(GA102)
Ampere
(GA102)
Ampere
(GA104)
Manufacturing  Samsung 8 nm Samsung 8 nm Samsung 8 nm Samsung 8 nm
CUDA Cores 10,496 8,704 8,704 5,888
RT Cores 82 68 68 46
Tensor Cores
(2nd Gen)
328 272 272 184
Texture Units
(3rd Gen)
328 272 272 184
ROPs 96 88 88 64
L2 Cache 6 MB 5 MB 5 MB 4 MB
Base Clock 1,400 MHz 1,440 MHz 1,440 MHz 1,500 MHz
Boost Clock 1,700 MHz 1,740(?) MHz 1,710 MHz 1,730 MHz
Memory 24 GB
GDDR6X
10 GB
GDDR6X
10 GB
GDDR6X
8 GB
GDDR6
Memory Speed 935.8 GBps 760 GBps 760 GBps 512 GBps
Memory Bus 384-bit 320-bit 320-bit 256-bit
Supplementary
Power
2x PCIe 8-pin 3x PCIe 8-pin 2x PCIe 8-pin 1x PCIe 8-pin
Standard Display
Connectors 
HDMI 2.1
3x DisplayPort (1.4a)
2x HDMI (2.1)
2x DisplayPort (1.4a)
HDMI (2.1)
3x DisplayPort (1.4a)
HDMI (2.1)
3x DisplayPort (1.4a)
Max Resolution 8K (7680 x 4320) 8K (7680 x 4320) 8K (7680 x 4320) 8K (7680 x 4320)
TDP 350 W 320 W+ 320 W 220 W
Release Date 09/24/2020 11/20/2020 09/17/2020 10/28/2020
MSRP $1,499 $899 $699 $499

 

MSI RTX 3080 Suprim X

As mentioned above, the MSI RTX 3080 SUPRIM X is a brand new set of SKUs, adding to their existing lineup consisting of the Gaming X Trio/Gaming Trio and Ventus/Ventus 3X. The Ventus cards start the product stack with the Gaming line above it and the Suprim X on top of both. MSI says the new Suprim is a culmination of years of circuit engineering and cooling leading to a new product design that “embraces prestige in its appearance and capabilities”. In addition to what we can see, there are ‘thickened copper’ traces on the PCB to help with clean signals and heat dissipation.

The new Tri Forzr 2S heatsink uses three new Torx Fan 4.0 fans. The new ball bearing fans bind together pairs of blades with a linked outer ring design MSI says focuses airflow into the updated Tri Frozr 2S cooling system. The Suprim also implements MSI’s Zero Frozr technology where the fans shut off below a certain temperature threshold. Overall, using the performance setting, the system is quiet, though a bit louder than the Asus ROG Strix RTX 3080 we recently reviewed. If you would like it to make less noise, flip the BIOS switch to quiet as the performance difference wasn’t much.

The heatsink itself is redesigned to improve airflow dynamics. MSI installed deflectors that provide additional surface area and directs air to where it is needed for maximum cooling. The Wave-curve 2.0 fin edges are said to disrupt unwanted airflow harmonics resulting in reduced noise. In addition to the new fin array, MSI uses precision-machined square core pipes to achieve maximum contact between the GPU and copper base plate in order to spread the heat along the full length of the heatsink.

Supporting this beast of a card electrically is a robust power delivery system. Compared to the 13-phase Gaming X Trio the Suprim X has the same hardware found on the Gaming X Trio except on this card we find a couple more phases overall (MSI states 10+6+4). Sending power to the board are three 8-pin PCIe connectors. Combined with the PCIe slot, the card can use up to 525 W while being in spec. Obviously, the power limit is lower than that on this card, but as you’ll see, we’ll use more than two 8-pin PCIe connectors and the slot provides.

In reference to the capacitor ‘issue’ on the rear of some of these cards, MSI uses mostly MLCC caps with only two POSCAP/SP-CAPs. This is different than the Gaming X Trio that sports four POSCAP/SP-CAPs. The issue was all but resolved with a driver update, but it is still good to know that for a more expensive card, more premium parts are used.

On the software front, MSI uses their old standby MSI Afterburner to monitor and control their graphics cards. Afterburner has been updated with additional functionality including the OC scanner to automatically overclock the card and additional skins keeping it up to date. In addition to Afterburner is the MSI Dragon Center to control the system itself and Mystic light to control the RGB lighting.​

TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK

TORX FAN 4.0 is built on teamwork, with pairs of fan blades bound together with a linked outer ring design that focuses airflow into the updated TRI FROZR 2 cooling system.

TOTALLY COOL CORE PIPES
Core Pipes are precision-machined for maximum contact over the GPU and spread the heat along the full length of the heatsink for optimal cooling.

SHHHH…SILENCING HEATSINK DESIGN
Stay stealthy with Airflow Control that improves airflow dynamics. Deflectors provide additional surface area and guide air to where it’s needed for maximum cooling. Wave-curved 2.0 fin edges disrupt unwanted airflow harmonics resulting in reduced noise.

THAT’S HOW WE ROLL
Extremely durable double-ball bearings spin your TORX FANs for years of intense and lengthy gaming sessions with zero noise.

MSI AFTERBURNER

MSI Afterburner gives you complete control, lets you monitor your hardware in real-time and best of all: it’s completely free. and can be used with graphics cards from all brands.

 

Retail Packaging and Accessories

MSI’s retail packaging for the new SKU sets itself apart from the rest using a white background instead of black. Other than that, there’s an image of the card diagonally across the front along with the Suprim X branding on the front. Flipping the box around you’ll see several features and specifications listed.

When you open the box up, you’re again greeted by the Suprim name on top and the MSI name on an envelope at the bottom. The envelope holds all of the paperwork (manuals, offers, etc.) that are included. The Suprim X also includes a GPU strut designed to support this heavy graphics card. The strut includes a base, threaded dowel rod, and adjustable platform to support the GPU.

Meet the MSI RTX 3080 Suprim X

The MSI Suprim X looks the part of a premium video card. The shroud has a more reserved design compared to the Gaming Trio which many will like. The lighter grey in the middle is aluminum with a brushed finish while the darker grey on the ends is plastic. RGB LEDs accent the card front with two frosted ‘arrows’ between the two outer fans.

The top of the card is where most of the RGB lighting is located including the GeForce RTX and Suprim writing. The colors are saturated and bright, but not blinding. The backplate sports a brushed and matte finish with the MSI Gaming Dragon illuminated with RGB lighting as well. The backplate also servers as a passive heatsink with thermal pads located in critical areas (memory, VRM, etc).

Overall its a good looking card, but as many expect by now, it’s a big one. Taking up over 2.5 slots and extending past ATX size motherboards, make sure you have the room to house this monster inside your case and let it breathe.

 

A Closer Look

Starting with the I/O area, MSI gives us three DisplayPort ports (v1.4) and a single HDMI (v2.0b) with a maximum digital resolution of 8K (7680×4320). The I/O plate also has small holes cut out for venting warm air, but an overwhelming majority of the heat is dumped inside the chassis. As mentioned previously, power is sent to the card by three (required) 8-pin PCIe connectors.

Removing the heatsink reveals a beast of a PCB sporting more robust power delivery than the Gaming X Trio (appears to be a total of 16 phases for Vcore and memory). The MOSFETs are 50 A OnSemiconductor 30215D ICs controlled by two UPI 9512R and an OnSemi NCP81611 controller (Vcore and memory). This is less than the 60 A bits the Strix had as well as fewer phases. Either way, this configuration is plenty to support the card at stock and while overclocked.​

Below is a closeup of the power bits, Micron GDDR6X, and the GA102-300–KD-A1 DIE and control ICs.

GPU-Z and the MSI RTX 3080 Suprim X on the test bench…

As you can see from the GPU-Z shot above, the MSI RTX 3080 Suprim X has a stock operating clock of 1440 MHz with a 1905 MHz Boost. The full boost speed from this sample peaked at 2065 MHz settling around 1920 MHz or so during testing. Below is a picture of the card on the test bench showing off its size and RGB prowess.

 

Test System and Benchmark Methods

Test System Components
Motherboard ASUS ROG Maximus XII Extreme, EVGA Z490 FTW WiFi
CPU Intel i9-10900K @ stock
CPU Cooler EVGA CLC 240
Memory 2×8 GB G.Skill Royal 3600 MHz CL16-16-16-36
SSD Gigabyte Aorus 2 TB NVMe Gen4 (OS + Applications)
Power Supply EVGA 750W G3
Video Card Asus ROG Strix RTX 3080 OC @ Stock, Nvidia 456.55 Win10 64-bit WHQL drivers

Our test system is based on the latest mainstream Intel z490 platform and uses the i9-10900K 10/20t CPU. The CPU is overclocked to 4.9 GHz on all cores/threads with cache set to 4.3 GHz. The clock speeds used provides a good base to minimize any limitations the CPU may have on our titles, particularly when using the lower resolutions, and should be attainable with a good air cooler or better. The DRAM is in a 2×8 GB configuration at 3600 MHz with CL16-16-16-36-2T timings, a middle of the road option balancing performance and cost.

We have made some significant changes since the last update adding a few new titles and dropping some of the older games. More details can be found in the GPU Testing Procedure article, which we have updated with our latest benchmarks. Below is a quick summary for easy reference.

  • UL 3DMark Time Spy – Default settings
  • UL 3DMark Fire Strike (Extreme) – Default settings
  • UL 3DMark Port Royal – Default Settings (Ray Tracing capable cards only)
  • Unigine Superposition – Performance, 1080p High
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider – DX12, “Highest” preset (will add RTX when it has been patched)
  • The Division 2 – DX12, Ultra preset, VSync Off
  • Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey – Ultra High preset, VSync Off
  • Far Cry New Dawn – Ultra defaults
  • F1 2020 – DX12, Very High defaults, TAA, and x16 AF, Australia track, do not show FPS counter
  • Metro: Exodus – DX12, Ultra defaults

Synthetic Benchmarks

Our first set of benchmarks hail from Underwriters Laboratories, who acquired Futuremark back in 2014. Earlier in 2018, a rebrand occurred, and since that time, Futuremark is now UL. The benchmarks have not changed, just the name. We chose to stick with 3DMark Fire Strike (Extreme) and 3DMark Time Spy as these tests give users a good idea of performance on modern titles. We’ve also added 3DMark Port Royal which is the first Ray Tracing benchmark designed for Windows 10 PCs and graphics cards with Microsoft DirectX Raytracing capabilities.

3DMark Fire Strike (Extreme) is a DX11-based test that runs at 1080p resolution. UL says the graphics are rendered with detail and complexity far beyond other DX11 benchmarks and games. 3DMark Time Spy is a DX12 benchmark designed for Windows 10 PCs. It supports new API features such as asynchronous compute, explicit multi-adapter, multi-threading, and runs at 2560×1440 resolution.

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In our synthetic tests, the MSI RTX 3080 Suprim X performed well, mixing it up with our Asus ROG Strix RTX 3080 and landing just behind the MSI RTX 3090 used in our tests. The 3080 also manages to keep in front of both AMD 6800 series cards, especially in Port Royal where ray tracing performance is king. Nothing unusual here to report.

Gaming Benchmarks

For gaming benchmarks, we have updated our testing suite to bring more modern titles into the mix. Gone are Battlefield V, F1 2018, Far Cry 5, AOTS:e, and World of Tanks, which were replaced with Metro Exodus, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, F1 2020, and Far Cry: New Dawn. We kept The Division 2 and Shadow of the Tomb Raider. The games should provide a good view of the overall performance of the card. Many of these are DX12 games.

1080p (1920×1080) Results

Our gaming benchmarks show the MSI trading punches with the other overclocked RTX 3080. Outside of Far Cry which doesn’t respond well at the lower resolution, everything falls into place here as well. Overclocking on this low resolution with such powerful cards doesn’t really tell the story. As the resolution goes up, so does the dependency on the GPU itself. We’ll see a slightly better response to overclocking and CPU dependency in our tests below.

2560×1440 and 4K UHD Results

Below are the higher resolution results starting with 2560×1440 and the gaining in popularity 3840×2160 (4K UHD). These resolutions prove to be a bit of a stretch for some cards, but an Ampere-based RTX 3080 had no issues running either setting.

 

In looking at the charts above, we see the MSI RTX 3080 Suprim X handles these higher resolutions with ease and in most cases, close to or above that 144 Hz/FPS threshold in most titles at 2560×1440. Even here we still see some CPU bottlenecks with the 3090 running so close. Bumping up the resolution to 4K UHD, we were still able to maintain over 60 FPS in all titles using our Ultra settings. Again we see the RTX 3090 pulling away in most titles while the 3080 is significantly faster than the 2080 Ti.

RTX and DLSS Testing

Below we did some testing in Metro Exodus and Shadow of the Tomb Raider with ray tracing (RTX) turned on at 1440p and 4K. As you can see, it did improve frame rates, but they were still below our previous results without ray tracing enabled. We’re able to see significant improvements in performance overall with the increase in RT cores.

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Overclocking

For overclocking, we used MSI Afterburner 4.6.3 beta 2. The OC scanner didn’t work well for us for whatever reason, but we ended up at +74 for the core and +611 on the memory. This change yielded a peak clock of 2055 MHz in-game. We simply raised the power limit to its maximum (in this case 116%, lower than the Asus), and fan speeds were left on auto. This gave us a slight performance boost at 1080p (~2%) and a bit more at higher, more GPU-bound resolutions (~4%). Note, however, this was a lot lower than the Asus card, though the performance between the two is still close.

 

Overclocking Software

MSI Afterburner has been a part of a video card overclocker’s toolbox for quite some time now. Over the years it has improved its appearance and added additional functions, one of which is the automatic overclocking, or overclock scanner. While we didn’t have much luck with this version, all other functionality worked without issue.

 

Temperatures and Power Use

We test power consumption by running through the game benchmarks of Shadow of the Tomb Raider and F1 2020 at stock speeds and while overclocked. We monitor temperatures throughout this testing, with the peak temperature being what is listed in the data below. To more accurately simulate real gaming conditions, the benchmarks are extended (time) to allow the card to settle.

 

When we tested for temperatures, we switched the fan profile to performance and let the massive cooling solution do its thing. In the end, the card peaked at 73°C at stock and 76°C while overclocked in both titles. The card was quiet throughout testing even when they ramped up. The Twin Forzr 2S cooling solution does the job well, while keeping the card cool and quiet during operation. When judging using the seat of my pants, the MSI card was more audible than the Asus. Though again, both solutions are quiet.

 

Power use on this 320 W+ card peaked at 597 W (system) overclocked and 572 W while at stock. This is a bit more power use than the Asus, but nothing out of the ordinary for this class of card. A quality 750 W PSU will be sufficient for most setups including overclocking both CPU and GPU and still allowing for headroom and quiet operation.

Conclusion

MSI’s new Suprim X line proved itself to be more than a competent performer in our testing. Actual performance results were spot on, trading blows with our Asus ROG Strix RTX 3080 card. The new Twin Frozr 2S heatsink gets the job done and does so quietly regardless if you are using the Gaming or Silent modes. Priced at $899, the Suprim X is priced higher than the Asus ($849.99 if you can find them). The biggest difference between these cards outside of some hardware details is the appearance. Otherwise, these perform similarly enough where performance isn’t setting the cards apart.

In the end, the MSI RTX 3080 Suprim X is an improvement over the Gaming X Trio and fits in well in the product stack. Its place in the market at the $899 price point may be a bit too much for some users to overcome a $90 difference between the two. But if you want MSI’s (read: any brand’s) flagship RTX 3080, you’re going to pay a premium of some sort.

As the stock of the Ampere cards improves over time, we hope to get the Gigabyte Aorus RTX 3080 ($850), and the EVGA RTX 3080 FTW3 Ultra ($810),  in for review to see how they compare. In the meantime, the MSI RTX 3080 Suprim X is a worthy competitor to the listed and tested cards. Whether or not the price premium is worth it, is up to you. But you won’t find a much more stout and well-rounded card than the Suprim X.

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– Joe Shields (Earthdog)

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