MSI GeForce RTX 2080 Gaming X TRIO review

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Conclusion

Conclusion

We'll leave the pricing and Raytracing/AI tensor feature discussion for what it is and talk a little more about what MSI brought to the table here with the Gaming X Trio. See when I filter away the above-mentioned variables we have a very impressive looking graphics card here. The RTX 2070 Gaming X has a decent tweak, albeit the NVIDIA founder edition cards are just 60 Mhz away from the boost frequency. But hey, tweak included, simply see really good temperatures. What impresses us is how silent the product is, at the measures ~34 DBa you just cannot hear it. The visuals of the card are subject to taste, but here again once powered on I (and I know this is a bit subjective to say) we really like the nice looks. The Gaming X Trio version you'll spot at giving or take € 849,- And for that money, you receive a product that is properly cooled and virtually inaudible. From our point of view, MSI has done a good job with the RTX 2080. And while you can discuss the 2080 performance positioning overall, it's validity and overall price level, we need to focus on what the board partners do with it. 


Aesthetics

Well, I expressed my opinion on this topic in the previous paragraph already. With a dark design, the cooler once powered on just looks amazing. The RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio offers improved looks. It sits in the Gaming line, was made a little darker to look at, and that works for me. The RGB lighting effects are funky to see. That LED inclusion that 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 vents there. 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.


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Cooling & acoustic levels

Due to the low RPM triple fan Twinfrozr revision, Torx fan setup the graphics card tops out at roughly 64 Degrees C while gaming. So that's just really good considering the tweak this card has at factory defaults, the acoustics are well under control as well as at its worst we measured only 34~35 DBa you'll not be hearing this card under normal circumstances card. We've heard no noticeable coil whine. But I do want to note that any graphics card at a high-enough FPS will make some coil-whine. 

Graphics cards with a TU104 sit at a 225 Watt TDP under full stress, our measurements show it to be roughly spot on that number. A 600 Watt PSU would be a nice match for these cards paired with a modern age PC. Remember - when purchasing a PSU, aim to double up in Wattage as your PSU is most efficient when it is at 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 150 Watts to your peak power consumption budget as increasing voltages and clocks increase your power consumption.

Overclocking

The combination of memory, power and voltage settings will bring you a proper overclock. Once you've applied it, you get more performance. The real gurus, of course, will likely prefer a manual tweak. Here we cannot complain either. We gained 125 MHz extra on top of the factory tweaked values. With the increased power limiter you'll now see that dynamic boost frequency hovering at and over the 2050 MHz range. Mind you, that frequency can be higher and/or lower depending on game and benchmark title. The memory clock tweak was far more complicated, we've been able to add 1000 MHz, double that for a double-data-rate and, yes, we had close to 16 Gbps running stable. Which is still nice when you think about it for a few seconds. We like the new OC Scanner that you will see throughout most GPU tweak utilities, for us that is Afterburner (download). While it only overclocks your GPU a notch, it does create a reliable tweaking curve. It probably needs a bit more development and finetuning, but I can see this become the primary methodology for automated overclocking in the future. Right now it is a little conservative though, but yes, promising. Just remember to increase the power limiter and your stable memory tweak. 

   

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Concluding

The good news is that MSI is able to offer a competitive price compared to other AIB products, the bad news is that the card still is in that €849,- price range, arguably that is a massive amount of money for the RTX 2080 series. The biggest problem is that the founder edition cards have become much more competitive with their competing clocks and cooling design. Since the founders cards sell at  €799,- the extra 50 bucks remains hard to justify. This is a problem that NVIDIA created themselves, as they are now competing with their board partners. Low availability isn't helping either, pricing is off for the RTX 2080 series. Relatively speaking among the AIB cards, MSI manages this product well (being competitive pricing wise). The PCB layout and component usage are good, the cooler I would qualify as excellent even. Palit really did design a card that works really well, proper cooling at a very low acoustic level.  The factory tweak is nice, but we're talking about `~2% extra performance at best compared to the founder edition cards. That is the reality these days. Tweaking wise the card did not disappoint though. Combined with that lovely and totally silent cooling and a really nice factory tweak we'll hand out a top pick award, as the product they MSI has released here really deserves that award. Albeit being hindered by a too high overall market price segment, it is a superbly designed product.

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