MSI GeForce RTX 2080 Super Gaming X Trio Review 17

MSI GeForce RTX 2080 Super Gaming X Trio Review

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Value and Conclusion

  • According to MSI, their RTX 2080 Super Gaming X Trio will retail for $729 to $739.
  • Solid performance increase over the original RTX 2080
  • Fastest memory ever seen on a graphics card—15.5 Gbps
  • Very quiet in gaming
  • Overclocked out of the box
  • Idle fan stop
  • RTX Technology
  • Backplate included
  • Highly energy efficient
  • DLSS could lift the card to 4K 60 FPS performance
  • Game bundle includes both Control and Wolfenstein: Youngblood
  • SLI support
  • VESA Adaptive-Sync, HDMI 2.0b, USB-C, DisplayPort 1.4, 8K support
  • High price
  • Power limit not increased over Founders Edition
  • Always running in power limiter, which complicates overclocking, too
  • Memory not overclocked
Today, NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 2080 Super is available in both the Founders Edition and custom design variants. While it seems surprising at first that NVIDIA is releasing a new model in a market segment with zero competition, it makes sense if you take a closer look at their product stack. In order to counter AMD's Navi-based Radeon RX 5700 Series, NVIDIA released the "Super" refresh of Turing, which offers faster variants of the RTX 2060 and RTX 2070. Unlike the original RTX 2070, the RTX 2070 Super is based on the TU104 graphics processor, which is the same chip that powers the RTX 2080 lineup. This jump in performance shrunk the gap between the RTX 2070 and RTX 2080, which makes the original RTX 2080 less attractive to potential buyers, especially at its current price point. That's why NVIDIA is giving the RTX 2080 the +1 treatment, too. The RTX 2080 Super is based on the same TU104 GPU that powers the RTX 2080, but uses all shaders available in the silicon. NVIDIA is also bumping their memory clocks up to 15.5 Gbps, which helps with performance, too.

MSI's RTX 2080 Super Gaming X Trio comes with a sizable overclock out of the box for a rated boost clock of 1845 MHz, which is 30 MHz higher than the Founders Edition. Overall, when averaged over our benchmarks at 4K resolution, this results in only a 3% performance improvement over the NVIDIA reference—not a lot. The RTX 2080 Super Gaming X Trio is 10% faster than the original RTX 2080, which widens the gap to the RTX 2070 Super to 19%, restoring the balance in this market segment. NVIDIA's flagship, the RTX 2080 Ti, is 15% faster than the RTX 2080 Super. AMD's fastest, the now end-of-life Radeon VII, is 17% behind, and the new Navi-based RX 5700 XT is 26% slower—not even close. Performance numbers of the RTX 2080 Super are good; the higher FPS rates definitely help improve the gaming experience at 4K. While not a 4K60 max details card, it is good enough for solid 4K gaming with decent frame rates if you are willing to sacrifice some details settings (depending on the game). Its high performance will also help gamers looking to drive a high-refresh-rate monitor beyond 60 Hz on 1440p at the highest details.

MSI is reusing the PCB and cooler design of their RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio, which is a perfectly fine choice. Unlike the Founders Edition, the card uses a large triple-slot, triple-fan cooler, which not only improves temperatures considerably, but also lower noise levels a lot. With only 32 dBA, the card will be very quiet even when playing 4K titles all day, which is impressive. What MSI also includes with their card is the idle-fan-stop feature, which shuts off the card's fans completely in idle, productivity, and light gaming.

Just like on all other Turing cards, power efficiency of the RTX 2080 Super is excellent. It's a bit sad to see that MSI did not increase their card's power limit beyond Founders Edition levels—both cards max out at 250 W. A higher board power limit would have helped gain some additional performance because NVIDIA's Boost algorithm would have automatically boosted the clocks higher for longer. This comes at the price of higher heat output, though, so I can understand MSI's approach, too. The power limiter does complicate overclocking a bit because you can no longer dial in the exact clocks you want to overclock to. Still, our manual overclocking tests show good results, leading to a 8.5% real-life performance improvement—more than expected. Especially the Samsung 16 Gbps GDDR6 memory chips overclock extremely well, reaching 2295 MHz in frequency (18.4 Gbps). Wondering why NVIDIA chose to clock the cards at 15.5 Gbps even though the memory chips themselves are guaranteed to run at 16 Gbps, I reached out to them and got the response that "this is related to the PCB design of the original 2080 board. On the 2080 Super we reach max stability at 15.5, while leaving some OC headroom".

Like all other NVIDIA RTX cards, the RTX 2080 Super includes support for raytracing hardware acceleration. With only a few titles so far, I'm not sure if it's the most important technology to have today, but I am convinced that NVIDIA with their close ties to developers will do everything they can to push this technology forward, which ultimately will result in an improvement of fidelity in games. Console makers Sony and Microsoft are also working on raytracing for their next-gen hardware, which will definitely help adoption rates, too. RTX 2080 Super has additional RT cores and higher performance overall, which will help cushion the performance hit from raytracing.

MSI is asking $740 for their RTX 2080 Super Gaming X Trio, which is a $40 increase over the Founders Edition and doesn't seem unreasonable. Just performance alone won't justify the pricing as it is 6% more expensive for 3% performance gained. However, the much better cooler makes a big difference. Temperatures are lower and noise levels are excellent, and fan-stop is included, too.

But let's not kid ourselves, that's still a lot of money. However, options are limited: the Radeon VII is end-of-life, the RTX 2070 Super is too slow for 4K, the original RTX 2080 only has marginally better price/performance and lacks the memory OC headroom of the RTX 2080 Super, and the RTX 2080 Ti is probably too expensive for people with just $600-$800 to spend. RTX 2080 non-Super pricing should drop a bit soon because of it going end-of-life, so maybe a good deal can be found here in the near future. In order to offset the cost a little bit and show off the benefits of their RTX technology, NVIDIA includes a two-game bundle with all RTX Super cards consisting of Wolfenstein: Youngblood and Control, which both support raytracing.
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