Anything GeForce GTX 1080 Ti is of course pretty awesome as the performance (even at reference clocks) these card chunk out will make your eye browses raise all by themselves. The reference/FE products are already very nice, so once the board partners that to improve things then the balance shifts even more. With the new TRIO series MSI placed a significant focus on cooling and even lower noise levels. Make no mistake, the GPU harbored inside this graphics card is colossal and a spicy one to cool down but it is exactly ate low noise levels, cooling and new looks where the card excels. The cooling performance is kept under the magic 70 Degrees C marker, preventing the card from throttling. However the card lifts itself towards a new level thanks to the very low noise levels. Under full load this card cannot be heard unless you'd say place your ears like 20cm away from the card, it really is that silent. Heck this 1080 Ti managed to remain passively cooled up-to roughly 60 Degrees C as well. The perf sits a tiny bit below the Lightning however is pretty much similar towards the regular Gaming X versions. It however is a big card though with a bulky and quite heavy design. But yeah, that does pay out in cooling performance and low noise levels for sure. That massive cooling is not going to help you in matters of tweaking though, due to Nvidia's limiters all 1080 Ti cards clock roughly the same. And that is where Nvidia makes it very difficult for the brands like MSI to really shine with a ginormous tweak. Compared to a reference card and a bit of your own added tweak overall you can gain say up-to ~10% on average extra in performance coming from reference. But that means the product as tested today passes a Titan X in performance quite easily.
The GTX 1080 Ti Gaming X Tri has revised looks. It sits in the Gaming line, yes was made a little darker to look at, and that works for me. The RGB lighting effect in the backside really is funky to see. So yeah it has that a nice dark appeal to it from the PCB to both sides, the LED inclusion has been done subtly and can be configured in any manner you prefer with Mystic Light software, the choice is yours. While I always will remain skeptical about backplates (they potentially can trap heat and thus warm up the PCB) MSI does have plenty of vents. The flip-side is that they can look better and can protect your PCB and components from damage and, well, they can look nice as they can have a certain aesthetic appeal. I have to admit, this is looking very nice but looks are always personal, of course. So in the end, on looks you certainly get that premium feel of detailed aesthetics and quality.
Cooling & Noise Levels
The reference design (Founders Edition) of the GTX 1080 Ti is set at an offset threshold of 80 degrees C and quite easily hits 84 Degrees C under load/stress. As such, the reference card, once that GPU gets warmer, will clock down on voltage and that dynamic turbo clock to try and keep the card at that temperature threshold. That's throttling and it's part of the design and falls within advertised turbo frequencies. The GTX 1080 Ti Gaming X Trio runs at only around the 67 Degrees C marker, and with the temperature threshold set at 80 Degrees C it just has no need to throttle. Please do note that you will need proper ventilation inside your chassis to achieve that number as the card disposes warm air at the top side and cooler vents. Overall though the cooling design shaves off over 10 to 15 Degrees C over reference. As mentioned expect (moderate) sound pressure values in the 34 dBA range at max under load and warm circumstances. That's just an amazing value to measure and (not) hear. We did hear some coil noises/whine at high FPS, you likely will not hear it inside a closed chassis. Weirdly enough we hear it with all 1080 Ti cards we have tested to date.
The GP102-350-A1 Pascal GPU is rated as having a 250 Watt TDP. This GTX 1080 Ti Gaming X TRIO sits at almost 285 Watts depending on your game title and GPU load. At this performance level you are looking at 450~500 Watts for our PC in total, that is still okay. We think a 600~650 Watt PSU would be sufficient and, if you go with 2-way SLI, an 800~900 Watt power supply is recommended. Remember, when purchasing a PSU aim to double up in Wattage as your PSU is most efficient when it is under 50% load. Here again keep in mind we measure peak power consumption, the average power consumption is a good notch lower depending on GPU utilization. Also, if you plan to overclock the CPU/memory and/or GPU with added voltage, please do purchase a power supply with enough reserve. People often underestimate it, but if you tweak all three aforementioned variables, you can easily add 200 Watts to your peak power consumption budget.
From 1080P to Ultra HD the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti shows some serious numbers. But here's a paradox - the more difficult things get - the better the product will perform. E.g. Ultra HD is its true domain. Much like fine wine that ages well, that means this GeForce GTX 1080 Ti will last you a long time with future more GPU intensive games. This much performance and 11 GB of GDDR5X graphics memory helps you out in Ultra HD, DSR, VR and hefty complex anti-aliasing modes. That, and of course the latest gaming titles. I consider this to be a very viable single GPU solution that allows you to game properly in Ultra HD with some very nice eye candy enabled with a single GPU. Drivers wise we can't complain at all, we did not stumble into any issues. Performance wise, really there's not one game that won't run seriously well at the very best image quality settings. Gaming you must do with a nice Ultra HD monitor of course, or at least a 2560x1440 screen. Now, we can discuss the advantages of that 11 GB frame-buffer, but hey, you can draw your own conclusions there as performance isn't limited. And with 11 GB of it, you won't run out of graphics memory for years to come, right? So in that respect the card is rather future proof.
This card has a nice factory tweak applied for you already. It is roughly your maximum with maybe 50~75 MHz room left on that GPU base clock frequency. As such, at default this card hovers in that familiar ~2,050 MHz range. So there is no real need to overclock per se as hey, this tweak is covered by your warranty as well. If you do want to tweak, you'll get a bit more out of the base clock and roughly 1.2 GHz on the memory. You can also allow the board power limiter to go up towards 117%. All these factors combined (power limiter/GPU clock/MEM clock) offer a notch more performance. Especially the memory tweak helps as the GP102 GPUs is a bit memory deprived.
Newly revised looks and a cooler that is just incredibly silent is what the Gaming X Trio is all about. The Trio positions itself in-between the Gaming X and the Lightning, and while these two products are both are already exemplary in their targeted ranges, the new Trio simply offers something new in design and cooling. Really, the performance of all these cards are roughly all the same with marginal differences, that's the same for tweakability, and while debatable audible noise levels. So what's left is purchasing choices based on silence, looks and price. I think MSI is focusing on the latter two, indications right now are that the card will roughly sit at the Gaming X pricing range at 799 USD/Euros while the card offers a cool that is just incredibly silent (but so is the regular Twinfrozr based Gaming X). We do have to advise you though that it is a long card due to that cooler, please do make sure it actually fits inside your chassis. The card is properly built and oozes quality. But granted, it's a big dude alright! Tweaking performance is good, yet remains limited to the range that Nvidia dictates - and that is the reality and micro-managed margin we look at these days. Your stress gaming temperature will sit at a nice low 66~68 Degrees C threshold, which is excellent considering what GPU lies under the hood! In my previous 1080 Ti reviews I have not recommended cards like these for 1080p gaming. I am revising that claim a bit as there are people that want 144 FPS on their 144 Hz monitor of course. Next to that, 1080p rendering with DSR enabled also can have its benefits, and this card would be perfect for that. Broadly speaking though, at 2560x1440 the card really kicks in and at this resolution the 1080 Ti actually makes a lot of sense as it has heaps of power and memory hence it is going to last you a long time. Really, the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti is that Wolf Titan X in disguise. Nvidia had to do something to it and decided to ditch 1 GB of memory, bringing that VRAM number to a weird 11 GB. This means slightly fewer ROPs and a rather unusual 352-bit memory bus as well. But then they do use faster DDR5X memory and slightly faster than Titan X clock frequencies. So the performance drop is immediately annihilated and in fact the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti is as fast or sometimes even faster compared to the Titan X (Pascal). You've seen the numbers, for Ultra HD gamers and even 2560x1440 gamers this product works out well, really well. Overall we are impressed by the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, very much so. In closing, we feel the MSI Gaming X Trio edition GTX 1080 Ti is a truly lovely enthusiast class product. But so is the Gaming X version and realistically performance wise you are not going to see or hear any difference as yeah, that card is also very silent. As stated though, this card is intensely silent and does manage to do that at very acceptable cooling levels. You have seen the thermal images, these show good proper results as the card throughout all locations remains at relatively proper temps. If you can pick it up for the right price then we can wholeheartedly recommend it. The new Gaming X Trio might be one of the best solutions out on the market ticking all the right boxes, well aside from the price-tag slash 1080 Ti price-level of course. But this really is a top of the line product. Very nice, and we like where MSI is headed withg this new look.