MSI GeForce RTX 2080 Super Gaming X Trio Review 17

MSI GeForce RTX 2080 Super Gaming X Trio Review



MSI Logo

NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 20 Super series launch in two phases across July is topped off by the new GeForce RTX 2080 Super. Designed to displace the RTX 2080 from the company's product stack at $700, the RTX 2080 Super not just maxes out the 12 nm "TU104" Turing silicon, but also comes with higher GPU clock speeds and faster 15.5 Gbps GDDR6 memory. NVIDIA's reason to launch the RTX 2080 Super may have been necessitated by, of all things, the $399 Radeon RX 5700 XT.

AMD's Radeon RX 5700-series "Navi" launch destabilized NVIDIA's lineup. The RX 5700 XT outperformed the RTX 2070, and the RX 5700 beat the RTX 2060, forcing NVIDIA to launch the RTX 2060 Super and RTX 2070 Super to recapture the $399 and $499 price points. This had a ripple effect on the RTX 2080 because the RTX 2070 Super was carved out from the same "TU104" silicon and since the original RTX 2070 maxed out the "TU106." The RTX 2070 Super performs within 6-8 percent of the RTX 2080 while being $200 cheaper. Custom-design, factory-overclocked RTX 2070 Super cards narrow the performance gap to as little as 3-4 percent. NVIDIA would need to refresh the RTX 2080 lest it gets cannibalized by the RTX 2070 Super. We hence have the new RTX 2080 Super.

NVIDIA's objectives with the RTX 2080 Super are to increase the performance gap with the RTX 2070 Super, so it can justify selling it at a $200 premium, at $700 and avoid tapping into the larger "TU102" silicon, which would escalate costs. The company's approach hence is to supercharge the "TU104". For starters, all 3,072 CUDA cores physically present on the chip are enabled. The original RTX 2080 only features 2,944 of them. Secondly, the GPU Boost frequency is dialed up by a further 100 MHz, to 1815 MHz (up 6 percent). Lastly, the company increased the memory bandwidth by 11 percent by dialing memory clock speeds up to 15.5 Gbps using fast 16 Gbps-rated memory chips.

NVIDIA is also allowing its add-in card (AIC) partners to innovate custom-design RTX 2080 Super graphics cards with generous factory-overclocked speeds and meaty cooling solutions. With prices starting at $700, NVIDIA partners have $200 to mark up prices of their premium offerings because beyond $900, you should aim for the RTX 2080 Ti.

In this review, we have with us the MSI GeForce RTX 2080 Super Gaming X Trio. The card is based on the same "Gaming X Trio" board design as both the RTX 2070 Super and RTX 2080 cards with the name. The card uses a strong 10+2 phase VRM and the humongous Tri Frozr cooling solution that mates a multi fin-stack heatsink with three independently controllable fans and idle fan stop. The card also ships with a 1845 MHz boost frequency, while the memory is left untouched at 15.5 Gbps. MSI is pricing the card at $740, which is a $40 premium over the $700 MSRP for the RTX 2080 Super.

GeForce RTX 2080 Super Market Segment Analysis
RX Vega 64$400 4096641247 MHz1546 MHz953 MHzVega 1012500M8 GB, HBM2, 2048-bit
GTX 1080 Ti$7003584881481 MHz1582 MHz1376 MHzGP10212000M11 GB, GDDR5X, 352-bit
RX 5700 XT$4002560641605 MHz1755 MHz1750 MHzNavi 1010300M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 2070$4402304641410 MHz1620 MHz1750 MHzTU10610800M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 2070 Super$5002560641605 MHz1770 MHz1750 MHzTU10413600M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
Radeon VII$6803840641802 MHzN/A1000 MHzVega 2013230M16 GB, HBM2, 4096-bit
RTX 2080$6302944641515 MHz1710 MHz1750 MHzTU10413600M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 2080 Super$7003072641650 MHz1815 MHz1940 MHzTU10413600M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
MSI RTX 2080 Super
Gaming X Trio
$7803072641650 MHz1845 MHz1940 MHzTU10413600M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 2080 Ti$11004352641350 MHz1545 MHz1750 MHzTU10218600M11 GB, GDDR6, 352-bit

Packaging and Contents

Package Front
Package Back

You will receive:
  • Graphics card
  • Documentation
  • Anti-sag reinforcement brace

The Card

Graphics Card Front
Graphics Card Back

The MSI RTX 2080 Super Gaming X Trio looks identical to the RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio, which of course makes economical sense. On the back, you'll find a high-quality metal backplate. Dimensions of the card are 33x14 cm.

Graphics Card Height

Installation requires three slots in your system.

Monitor Outputs, Display Connectors

Display connectivity options include three standard DisplayPort 1.4a, one HDMI 2.0b, and a VirtualLink connector, which is basically USB-C with DisplayPort routing and USB-PD, so a single cable can power, display, and take input from your VR HMD.

NVIDIA has updated their display engine with the Turing microarchitecture, which now supports DisplayPort 1.4a with support for VESA's nearly lossless Display Stream Compression (DSC). Combined, this enables support for 8K@30Hz with a single cable or 8K@60Hz when DSC is turned on. For context, DisplayPort 1.4a is the latest version of the standard that was published in April, 2018.

At CES 2019, NVIDIA announced that all their graphics cards will now support VESA Adaptive Sync (aka FreeSync). While only a small number of FreeSync monitors have been fully qualified with G-SYNC, users can enable the feature in NVIDIA's control panel regardless of whether the monitor is certified or not.

Graphics Card Power Plugs

The board uses two 8-pin power connectors. This input configuration is specified for up to 375 watts of power draw.

Multi-GPU Area

With Turing, NVIDIA is using NVLink as a physical layer for its next-generation SLI technology. NVLink provides sufficient bandwidth for multi-GPU rendering at 8K 60 Hz, 4K 120 Hz, and other such bandwidth-heavy display resolutions. It's a point-to-point link between your GPUs, so latencies will be lower compared to pushing data through the PCI-Express bus.


Graphics Card Cooler Front
Graphics Card Cooler Back

MSI is using a complex dual aluminium fin-stack cooler design that draws heat from the GPU through seven heat pipes and is ventilated by three fans.

Once the main heatsink is removed, a black baseplate becomes visible, which provides cooling for part of the VRM circuitry and memory chips.

The backplate is made out of metal and protects the card against damage during installation and handling.

On the next page, we dive deep into the PCB layout and VRM configuration.

High-resolution PCB Pictures

These pictures are for the convenience of volt-modders and people who would like to see all the finer details on the PCB. Feel free to link back to us and use them in your articles or forum posts.

Graphics Card Teardown PCB Front
Graphics Card Teardown PCB Back

High-res versions are also available (front, back).

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