Components

MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X 8G Graphics Card Review

MSI stands for Micro Star Int’l. When it comes to the high-end enthusiast PC components MSI is a name needing no introduction. They have established themselves among the top leading manufacturers of the PC stuff. MSI was established in the 1986 and was manufacturing the motherboards. It was not until 1997 when MSI announced their first graphics card and barebone product. They become a public company in 1998. In 2000 they announced their first server product. In 2003, they announced their first Notebook product. MSI CE products won IF Design Award in 2005 and 2006. There has been no stopping when it comes to the continuous innovation, breakthrough designs and gamers focus in mind. Keeping up with the industry trend they have ventured into the Peripherals, CPU Cooler and PC Chassis lines as well.

PRODUCT INFO
MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X 8G
Manufacture MSI
Available at View at Amazon

They are focused on building and supporting the eSports community. MSI Gaming is a brand that has excelled in providing some cool solutions to the gamers and PC users alike. Dedicated to gamer-driven innovation, MSI leverages its remarkable R&D strengths to craft top-notch, well-acclaimed notebook PCs, graphics cards, motherboards, and desktop PCs.  All these distinctive products have made MSI a forerunner in the high-end market. Also adding to the lineup are cloud servers, tailor-made IPCs, intelligent robotic appliances and human-centric vehicle electronics that further demonstrate MSI’s strengths and endeavors in artificial intelligence, commercial and IOT (Internet of Things) markets.

A bit late but never too late is the idea behind our latest review on the Nvidia’s Pascal generation as we will be taking a look at the MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X 8G graphics card. This is a highly popular graphics card from MSI and it features TwinFrozr VI cooling solution to drive the extreme cooling requirements of the card with custom PCB. This card comes equipped with RGB LED lighting on the top side and static Red LED Lighting on the shroud mounting LEDs. This card has a cold plate for the VRAM and surrounding areas as well as the PWM heatsink with micro fins for better temperatures. The card has one 8-pin and one 6-pin connector to power it up. MSI has used Military Class 4 grade components in the circuitry. And there is a stylish backplate with a dragon logo and pointy vents for airflow.

Title
MSI Gaming GeForce GTX 1080 8GB GDDR5X SLI DirectX 12 VR Ready Graphics Card (GTX 1080 GAMING X 8G)
Preview
MSI Gaming GeForce GTX 1080 8GB GDDR5X SLI DirectX 12 VR Ready Graphics Card (GTX 1080 GAMING X 8G)
Interface
PCI Express x16 3.0
Core Name
GP104-400
Cores
2560 Units
Core Clocks
1847 MHz / 1708 MHz (OC Mode) 1822 MHz / 1683 MHz (Gaming Mode) 1733 MHz / 1607 MHz (Silent Mode)
Memory Clock Speed
10108 MHz (OC Mode) 10010 MHz (Gaming Mode) 10010 MHz (Silent Mode)
Memory
8GB GDDR5X (256-bit)
Output
DisplayPort x 3 (Version 1.4) / HDMI 2.0b / DL-DVI-D
HDCP Support
2.2
Power consumption
180 W
Power connectors
6-pin x 1, 8-pin x 1
Recommended PSU
500W
Afterburner OC
DirectX Version Support
12
OpenGL Version Support
4.5
Multi-GPU Technology
SLI, 2-Way
Maximum Displays
4
VR Ready
Details
Title
MSI Gaming GeForce GTX 1080 8GB GDDR5X SLI DirectX 12 VR Ready Graphics Card (GTX 1080 GAMING X 8G)
Preview
MSI Gaming GeForce GTX 1080 8GB GDDR5X SLI DirectX 12 VR Ready Graphics Card (GTX 1080 GAMING X 8G)
Interface
PCI Express x16 3.0
Core Name
GP104-400
Cores
2560 Units
Core Clocks
1847 MHz / 1708 MHz (OC Mode) 1822 MHz / 1683 MHz (Gaming Mode) 1733 MHz / 1607 MHz (Silent Mode)
Memory Clock Speed
10108 MHz (OC Mode) 10010 MHz (Gaming Mode) 10010 MHz (Silent Mode)
Memory
8GB GDDR5X (256-bit)
Output
DisplayPort x 3 (Version 1.4) / HDMI 2.0b / DL-DVI-D
HDCP Support
2.2
Power consumption
180 W
Power connectors
6-pin x 1, 8-pin x 1
Recommended PSU
500W
Afterburner OC
DirectX Version Support
12
OpenGL Version Support
4.5
Multi-GPU Technology
SLI, 2-Way
Maximum Displays
4
VR Ready
Details

Last update on 2018-08-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Packaging and Unboxing

The graphics card is shipped inside a cardboard-based packing box in MSI typical branding. Their colors are Red and black which are my personal favorite and the majority of my builds have those colors in the main theme. The front side of the box has MSI dragon logo printed on the top left side with MSI printed on its right side. There is a picture of the card showing its shroud in the main section. Gamin X and GeForce GTX 1080 are printed below the picture. The card has 8GB VRAM and DirectX 12 support. It is VR ready as well. The backside of the box has nVidia brand name and logo printed on the top left side. Gaming X is printed on the right side. Salient features of the card like RGB LED, Twin Frozr VI cooling solution, MSI Mystic Lighting, and Gaming App are printed in the main section. Features of the Pascal chip are printed under it. Salient specifications are printed as well. The card is made in China. The right side of the box has MSI brand logo and name printed on top. There is a sticker pasted in the middle with the Serial No of the card, EAN, and UPC info barcodes printed on it. GeForce GTX 1080 is printed on the bottom. The left side of the box has MSI brand name and logo printed on the top. 8GB GDDR5X, DirectX 12, and VR Ready labels are printed in the middle. GeForce GTX 1080 is printed on the bottom. The bottom side of the box has salient features of the Pascal chip printed in 20 different languages and it is in the plain black color background. The top side of the box has a red color background. GeForce GTX 1080 is printed on the left side. Gaming X, Twin Frozr VI are printed in the middle and there are an MSI logo and brand name on the right side. Opening the top cover will show the inner cover with the tagline Play Hard, Stay Silent. Lift this cover to take out the inner box in the black color. The inner box has a container box with MSI brand logo and name embossed on it. It has the provided accessories inside. Taking this container off will show the card placed inside the antistatic bag. The card is tucked inside the dense black color Styrofoam pad.

Accessories

MSI has provided a user guide, installation CD, a comic with title Lucky the Dragon, Computer Workshop.

 

Closer Look

The MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X features nVidia’s Pascal based GP104 chip with 16nm FinFET technology and 314mm² die size. It packs 7200M transistors with 64 ROPs, 160 TMUs with bus interface of PCIe 3.0 x16. It has 2560 unified shaders or compute units. Pixel fillrate is 107.7 GP/s with texture fillrate of 269.3 GT/s. This particular model is using eight 1GB GDDR5X chips from Micron clocked at 1251MHz. Bus width is 256 bit and bandwidth is 320.3 GB/s. The chip is clocked at 1683MHz base clock with 1823MHJz boost clock. There are three modes on this card each with different clocks. These modes can be accessed and controlled using their Gaming App.

Mode Base Clock (MHz) Boost Clock (MHz) Memory Clock (MHz)
Gaming Mode 1683 1822 10010
OC Mode 1708 1847 10108
Silent Mode 1607 1733 10010

With the numbers taken care off, let’s dig into the design elements of this card.

This card has a weight of 1100gm with the dimension of 279x140x42mm (LxHxW). This card has MSI typical design element with black and red color shroud with a bold and aggressive look and feels to it. The shroud is made of plastic and is two-toned. The right side of the shroud is in the red color with its front side having a pointy arrow design and this side is raised as well. There is a continuous recess going from the front side to the rear in the shroud design. There are cutouts on the top and the bottom frame. The rear side of the red frame is also pointy though it is less sharp in design. There is a textured pattern between the two main sections of the shroud. The left side frame of the shroud is designed so that it gives the impression of a unibody design coming out the shroud itself. There are 6 raised red frosted diffusers on the top and the bottom side here. They have Red color LEDs under these diffusers. This pattern of red lighting on the black frame and solid red frame on the black shroud really stands the shroud design out and gives stunning visuals. This red and black theme has gone well synced on my PrimoChill Praxis Wetbench which happens to be following the same black/red design. This card has MSI’s Twin Frozr VI cooling solution. Twin Frozr has been the pinnacle of the cooling solution being offered from the MSI on their cards and they have not failed on it. MSI is using TORX 2.0 Fan design on this cooler. We have two 95mm fans with 14 blades. These blades have air channels formed near to the tip side. This can be checked visually as the channel portion has a shiny black surface which is smooth as compared to the rough matte black color surface on the rest of the blades. The steep design accelerates the airflow. Rest of the blade design is quite traditional and 14 blades help push the massive air through the single large size heatsink for effective heat dissipation. The fans have double ball bearings that would add to the long-term usage of the fans and their operations. It also helps in reducing the noise to give a better acoustic performance while gaming. There are silver color stickers on the motor hub of these fans with a dragon logo on them. This cooling solution is using the ZeroFrozr technology that has enabled these fans to start spinning only when the GPU temperature crosses 60°C. MSI introduced this technology in 2008.

As a part of the cooling solution, there is a single aluminum based heatsink covering the entire length of the PCB with dense fins. 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. This cooler is using 5 8mm nickel-plated copper heat pipes for effective heat dissipation. Looking at the heatsink from the side facing the fans, we can spot that the middle portion is raised whereas the left and right sides of the heatsink are following the recessed design. The portion of the heat pipes making contact with the base plate has square design without much of a gap among them. There is a single nickel plated copper based base plate making contact with the GPU die. Its purpose is to transfer the heat from the GPU die to the heat pipes making direct contact with the base plate. MSI is using the premium thermal paste though we were unable to verify which one it is to be exact. And if you were thinking this would be the end of the cooling solution, this is not the case. There is a cold plate covering the VRAM and their surrounding areas that would help in reducing the VRAM temperatures and achieving stable overclocking. There is a rugged anti-bending strip on the top rear border of the PCB. This is not all as we can see a PWM heatsink with micro fins covering the entire power delivery circuit to keep the VRM temperatures in check. This was the brief of the Twin Frozr VI cooling solution that MSI is using on their GTX 1080 Gaming X 8G graphics card. Clearly, they have not left any table unturned in providing an ultimate cooling solution. The PCIe connector is covered with a red color cover with MSI printed on it. Remove it before installing the card. We can see two white color headers on the rightmost side of the PCB. One is the 4-pin PWM header for the fans and the other is a two pin LED one. The front side of the card shows the glimpse of the PWM heatsink covering the power delivery circuit of the PCB. The edges of these heatsinks are rounded to avoid accidental injury to the user. Rightmost side of the heatsink is visible under the shroud.

Let’s take a look at the top side of the card. On the far right side, we have one 8-Pin connector and a 6-Pin connector making the total power draw of the card to be 180W. Their latches are facing the PCB side. We can spot the three massive heat pipes and a black color cold plate sandwiched between the heatsink and the PCB. The rear side has an RGB lighting area with dragon picture and MSI text printed on the top. You can control the lighting using the Mystic Lighting app from MSI. The rugged anti-bending strip is extending from the cold plate’s end towards the rear IO plate of the card. We have two SLI fingers covered with red color hardcovers. The backside has a solid metal backplate secured using 11 screws to the PCB. There is a dragon logo on the back plate towards the power connectors. There are pointy vents on the GPU die backside extending all the way to the rear IO plate. A serial no sticker is pasted under the SLI fingers. There are 4 spring loaded screws securing the baseplate of the cooler to the GPU die. One of them has a white color sticker pasted on it. Tempering or removing it would void the warranty. This is something that I have never been able to understand why companies are doing. EVGA is the only company so far not putting such stickers on their cards and supporting the water cooling enthusiasts the way it should be. Anyhow, I digress. Coming back to the design element, the rear side has a standard IO panel with the following connectivity options:

  • 1x DL-DVI-D Connector
  • 1x HDMI Connector 2.0b
  • 3x DisplayPort Connectors 1.4

These connectors are protected with red color covers. The maximum digital resolution supported on this card is 7680×4320. This card supports OpenGL 4.5 and DirectX 12. It has two way SLI capability and supports up to 4 displays at a time. It is VR ready and supports GSync as well as adaptive vertical sync. It has HDCP 2.2 support.

Last but not least, MSI is using 10 phase PWM design with Military Class 4 grade components in the power delivery section of the PCB like Super Ferrite Chokes, Hi-C Caps, and Japanese Solid Caps all there to ensure the extreme yet stable overclocking and enhanced efficiency. Before wrapping it up, here are the minimum system requirements:

  • PCIe compliant motherboard with one dual-width x16 slot
  • One 6-pin and one 8-pin supplementary connectors
  • Minimum 500W PSU
  • 350MB of free disk storage
  • 8GB System Memory
  • Microsoft Windows 7, 8, 10
  • Internet Connection to download apps from MSI and updated driver from GeForce website.

Test Bench

Following test bench setup was used to test the performance of the graphics card:

  • Intel i7 6850k
  • Asus Rampage V Edition 10
  • Ballistix Elite 4x8GB @ 3000MHz
  • Noctua NH-D15
  • Corsair AX1200i
  • Samsung 840 EVO 250GB SSD for OS
  • Samsung Barracuda 2TB
  • PrimoChill Praxis Wetbench

The CPU is overclocked to the 4.2GHz to avoid any bottlenecking. Following games have been tested:

  • Battlefield 1 [DX11, DX12]
  • DOOM [Vulkan]
  • Grand Theft Auto V
  • Metro Last Light Redux
  • The Witcher 3
  • The Rise of the Tomb Raider [DX11, DX12]
  • Mass Effect Andromeda
  • Watch Dogs 2
  • Call of Duty: WWII
  • Wolfenstein II The New Colossus [Vulkan]

Microsoft Windows 10 x64 version 1702 was used. Nvidia graphics driver version 388.13 were used. In case you are wondering why not the latest drivers then there is a simple reason. The previous cards were tested on this driver and unfortunately those samples were returned to their respective sources hence it was only logical to use this driver for better comparison and reference. FPS were monitored using MSI After Burner 4.50. Game settings were set from within the games, not from the GeForce Experience. All the reported framerates are average as reported by the software.

Following synthetic benchmarks were used:

  • 3dMark
  • Unigine Superposition

Let’s take a look at performance graphs.

3dMark

The MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X 8G was trailing behind the Gigabyte Vega 64in FireStrike, FireStrike Extreme, and FireStirke Ultra. But it was the other way around in the TimeSpy bench.

Unigine Superposition

On the 1080P Extreme bench, the Gigabyte RX Vega 64 has outshined both the GTX 1080s. But in 4K optimized and the 8k optimize benches the MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming X 8G takes the lead.

Battlefield 1 DX11

The MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X 8G has outperformed all the graphics cards tested and even on 4k, FPS was just shy of 1.2 marks to get to the magic figure of 60 FPS.

Battlefield 1 DX12

Under DX12 the Gigabyte RX Vega 64 takes the crown though on 1440P the MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X 8G has the lead.

DOOM

DOOM was tested using Vulcan API and Ultra settings using TSSAA 8TX. As expected the Gigabyte Rx Vega 64 has the lead on all the cards.

Metro Last Light Redux

Metro Last Light Redux was tested on maxed out settings. The MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X 8G has taken a lead over all the cards though there is a marginal gain on the 1440P and 2160P resolutions against the Gigabyte Rx Vega 64.

Grand Theft Auto – V

Grand Theft Auto – V was tested with maxed out settings on Ultra with 4x MSAA. The MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X 8G has an overall lead with a marginal lead over the Gigabyte GTX 1080 Windforce OC edition.

Mass Effect Andromeda

This game was tested with maxed out settings and The MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X 8G has an overall lead with a marginal lead over the Gigabyte GTX 1080 Windforce OC edition. The Gigabyte RX Vega series cards have struggled in this game. Both cards were tested 3 times each to verify the results.

Call of Duty: WWII

This game was tested with maxed out settings and the MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X 8G has an overall lead over the other cards tested with a marginal lead over the Gigabyte GTX 1080 Windforce OC edition. The Gigabyte RX Vega series cards have struggled in this game. Both cards were tested 3 times each to verify the results.

Wolfenstein II The New Colossus

Both Vega cards have the solid lead with the Gigabyte RX Vega 64 smashing the competition. MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X 8G was marginally behind the Gigabyte GTX 1080 Windforce OC edition.

The Rise of the Tomb Raider DX11

The MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X 8G takes the lead over all the other cards in the graph.

The Rise of the Tomb Raider DX12

Vega cards could not deliver against our expectations. Just to verify the results, both the Vega cards were tested three times each. The MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X 8G takes the lead over all the other cards in the graph.

The Witcher 3

On Ultra settings without Nvidia’s Hairworks, the MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X 8G has an overall lead though it is marginal when it comes to comparing with the Gigabyte RX Vega 64.

Watch Dogs 2

Both GTX 1080 were neck to neck with Gigabyte GTX 1080 Windforce OC edition taking a marginal lead.

Overclocking

The MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X 8G is a factory overclocked card with OC mode. On stock settings, the card has boosted to 1911MHz. Maximum boost during overclocking session was 2076MHz though it was not unstable. The maximum stable overclocked boost clock was 2038MHz.

Boost Clock on Stock 1878MHz
Boost Clock with OC 2038MHz

Here is the result of various testing frequencies and their results:

Core Clock (MHz) Memory Clock (MHz) Voltage (%age) Boost Clock (MHz) Test Result
+50 +100 40 1974 Passed
+100 +200 40 2038 Passed
+125 +300 100 2076 Failed
+125 +200 100 2076 Failed
+120 +300 100 2063 Failed
+110 +300 100 2050 Failed
+105 +300 100 2040 Passed but overall score was lower than the higher stable OC.
+100 +400 100 2038 Passed
+100 +500 100 2038 Failed
+100 +450 100 2038 Passed

Here are the results of the synthetic benchmarks and gaming performance with overclocked graphics card:

Superposition

We gain approximately over 5% gain in performance.

Battlefield 1

With overclocking there was a gain of mere 3.75 FPS which is marginal.

Acoustics

The summer season is at its peak here. There are certain environmental noises that are beyond our control. Hence, we will be giving our judgment based on our experience with the fans and other graphics cards. Fans were left on default fan curve. The fans were not that audible during the gaming session and MSI claims of silent operations hold sits ground.

Thermals

Room temp was 37°C at the time of the testing. The card was tested on the open air bench setup. 71°C was hit under load on the stock clocks whereas 75°C was hit with overclocking. This is a good thermal performance.

Power Consumption

The Corsair AX1200i is a digital PSU with monitoring enabled on the power consumption. Corsair Link was used to checking the power consumption under stock clocks and overclocked clocks. Furmark and AIDA64 were run at the same time to check the combined power consumption of the system. This represents the worst case scenario when it comes to the power consumption.

The MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X features nVidia’s Pascal based GP104 chip with 16nm FinFET technology and 314mm² die size. It packs 7200M transistors with 64 ROPs, 160 TMUs with bus interface of PCIe 3.0 x16. It has 2560 unified shaders or compute units. Pixel fillrate is 107.7 GP/s with texture fillrate of 269.3 GT/s. This particular model is using eight 1GB GDDR5X chips from Micron clocked at 1251MHz. Bus width is 256 bit and bandwidth is 320.3 GB/s. The chip is clocked at 1683MHz base clock with 1823MHJz boost clock. There are three modes on this card each with different clocks. These modes can be accessed and controlled using their Gaming App. These modes are Gaming, OC, and Silent modes.

This card has a weight of 1100gm with the dimension of 279x140x42mm (LxHxW). The overall design element of the card is bold and aggressive and looks that good in person. The shroud is based on two colors which are red and black. It is designed such as there are two parts of the shroud. The left part has red color frame housing the fan inside. The right side part has a black color frame. There are 6 diffusers on the top and at the bottom of this side. These are red color frosted and have Red LEDs underneath them. This creates a stunning and pleasing look and feels when the card is powered on. The MSI Twin Frozr VI is driving the cooling solution on this card. We have two 95mm fans with the TORX 2.0 fan technology. There is an air channel on the blades to maximize the airflow and each fan has 14 blades. There is a silver color logo on the motor hub with the MSI logo of the dragon in the middle. The fans are featuring the ZeroFrozr technology in which the fans will not spin unless the card hits and crosses the 60C temperature. There is a single massive aluminum heatsink which is dense and has 5 nickel-plated copper heat pipes each of 8mm thickness. There is a large size nickel plated copper base plate making contact with the GPU die. The heat pipes are making direct contact with this baseplate and the portion of the heat pipes making this contact is square in design. This is not all as there is a cold plate covering the VRAM chips and their surrounding area. There is also a rugged anti-bend clip. There is a PWM heatsink with micro fins covering the entire power delivery circuit to keep the VRM temperatures in check.

The card has 10 phase power design and has one 6-pin and an 8-pin power connector requiring 180W of the power. MSI is using Military Class 4 grade components including Super Ferrite Chokes, Hi-C Caps, and Japanese Solid Caps to ensure the efficient power delivery and stable overclocking potential. The maximum digital resolution supported on this card is 7680×4320. This card supports OpenGL 4.5 and DirectX 12. It has two way SLI capability and supports up to 4 displays at a time. It is VR ready and supports GSync as well as adaptive vertical sync. It has HDCP 2.2 support. The card has one DL-DVI-D port, one HDMI 2.0b port, and three DisplayPort 1.4 ports. The card has RGB LED solution implemented on it for a better visual experience. The shroud has 12 diffusers with Red LEDs under them. There is a plate on the top side with the MSI dragon logo and brand name on it. Users can change the colors on this plate using the MSI Mystic Lighting app. To harness the power of this card, the users can download the MSI Gaming App and Mystic Lighting App from the MSI website. Both are easy to use apps without any hunch.

The card is rated at $567 (discounted price) at the time of the review. After much of the mining fever, the prices of the cards are getting to stabilize and $567 makes this custom cooling solution and custom PCB card to be a better buy. In our testing, this card has handled and chewed everything we have thrown at it. 4k resolution is still not in the grasp of the GP104 hence can’t really blame this card for that. GTX 1080Ti would make sense for the 4k gaming. But for gaming at 2k, this card can handle the job with ease.


Excellent Performance None that I could think of
Better Cooling
Better acoustics
Pleasant Visuals
Energy Efficient
Better value
493 Reviews


MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X 8G

Excellent Performance
Better Cooling
Better acoustics
Pleasant Visuals
Energy Efficient
Better value
None that I could think of
493 Reviews



Check Price

With the price hike over and prices of the graphics cards getting stabilized, the MSI GTX 1080 Gaming priced at $567 is a better value card as it has custom PCB with 10 power phases and a powerful cooling solution with the pleasant visuals in the form of aggressive shroud and RGB LED lighting. This is everything a gamer could have asked for.

MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X 8G Graphics Card

Design - 9.5
Performance - 9
Value - 9
Quality - 9

9.1

Recommended

User Rating: 4.7 ( 1 votes)

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Nauman Siddique


I am a tech reviewer who loves to play with the hardware and do an in-depth analysis of the hardware for the content creation. I have over 120 contents to my credit and this number is ever growing. Besides, I love to assemble PCs and do troubleshooting.
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