MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X Plus 11 Gbps 8 GB Review 48

MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X Plus 11 Gbps 8 GB Review



MSI Logo

NVIDIA's $650 GeForce GTX 1080 Ti launch announcement brought cheer to two other market segments. With the GTX 1080 Ti, NVIDIA innovated improvements to its memory controller that let it address memory at higher clocks. It armed the GTX 1080 Ti with 11 Gbps GDDR5X memory, which let it more than make up for the slightly narrower memory bus in comparison to the TITAN X Pascal. It simultaneously announced product updates to the $500 GeForce GTX 1080 and $230 GeForce GTX 1060 6 GB, with the GTX 1080 receiving this faster 11 Gbps GDDR5X memory and the GTX 1060 6 GB receiving 9 GHz GDDR5 memory.

The idea here is to give the GTX 1080 and GTX 1060 6 GB the kind of performance-boosting updates NVIDIA usually reserves for product rebrands since the two are less than a year old, and the company hopes to prevent the GTX 1080 from withering away in the wake of the GTX 1080 Ti launch, much in the same way its predecessor, the GTX 980, lost market to the GTX 980 Ti launch. There's also a huge 35% performance gap between the original GTX 1080 and GTX 1080 Ti, which NVIDIA may want to narrow, probably to preempt the AMD Radeon Vega.

The new-gen GTX 1080 is every bit identical to the original. The magic happens with the new 11 Gbps-rated memory chips and an updated video BIOS, which tells the GP104's memory controllers how to work reliably at 11 Gbps. These SKU updates have prompted a slew of new product launches from NVIDIA add-in board partners. The refreshed GTX 1080 and GTX 1060 6 GB are clearly distinguished from the originals by memory speed markings in the SKU label (that green square in the bottom-right corner of the graphics card box).

In this review, we're taking a look at the new MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming X Plus, armed with 11 Gbps GDDR5X memory. MSI introduced the "Gaming X Plus" brand extension with updated GTX 1080 and GTX 1060 6 GB graphics cards, besides its Radeon RX 580 lineup. It is positioned between the Gaming X and top-tier Gaming Z extension. The card features slightly higher GPU clocks than the original GTX 1080 Gaming X, besides the faster memory. It also features the same TwinFrozr VI cooling solution, mated with a custom-design PCB.

GeForce GTX 1080 Market Segment Analysis
GTX 980 Ti
Radeon R9
Fury X
GTX 1070
GTX 1080
1080 Gaming X+
GTX 1080 Ti
Titan X Pascal
Shader Units2816409619202560256035843584
Graphics ProcessorGM200FijiGP104GP104GP104GP102GP102
Memory Size6 GB4 GB8 GB8 GB8 GB11 GB12 GB
Memory Bus Width384 bit4096 bit256 bit256 bit256 bit352 bit384 bit
Core Clock1000 MHz+1050 MHz1506 MHz+1607 MHz+1683 MHz+1481 MHz+1418 MHz+
Memory Clock1750 MHz500 MHz2002 MHz1251 MHz1376 MHz1376 MHz1251 MHz


Package Front
Package Back

You will receive:
  • Graphics card
  • Documentation
  • MSI stickers

The Card

Graphics Card Front
Graphics Card Back

Visually, the card looks exactly like the regular GTX 1080 Gaming X. A metal backplate is available too. Dimensions of the card are 28.0 cm x 14.5 cm.

Graphics Card Height

Installation requires two slots in your system.

Monitor Outputs, Display Connectors

Display connectivity options include a DVI port, an HDMI port, and three DisplayPorts. Unlike previous NVIDIA cards, the DVI port no longer includes the analog signal, so you'll have to use an active adapter. NVIDIA also updated DisplayPort to be 1.2 certified and 1.3/1.4 ready, which enables support for 4K at 120 Hz and 5K @ 60 Hz, or 8K @ 60 Hz with two cables.

The GPU also comes with an HDMI sound device. It is HDMI 2.0b compatible, which supports HD audio and Blu-ray 3D movies. The GPU video encoding unit has been updated to support HEVC at 10 and 12 bit.

Multi-GPU Area

With Pascal, NVIDIA made some changes to how SLI works. In a nutshell, for 4K at 60 Hz and above, NVIDIA recommends new high-bandwidth SLI bridges it dubbed "SLI HB." These bridges occupy both SLI fingers. Traditional triple- and quad-SLI setups are gone as well. Only certain benchmarks can run more than the dual-SLI setup to which all games are limited.

We shine the light from a self-leveling line laser onto the card, which shows around 1 or 2 mm of sagging, which is nothing.

Graphics Card Teardown PCB Front
Graphics Card Teardown PCB Back

Pictured above are the front and back, showing the disassembled board. High-res versions are also available (front, back).

A Closer Look

Graphics Card Cooler Front
Graphics Card Cooler Back

MSI's thermal solution uses six heatpipes to keep the GPU cool. This is the exact same cooler as on the regular non-Plus GTX 1080 Gaming X.

Once the main heatsink is removed, you will see two black heatsinks that cover the memory chips and voltage regulation circuitry.

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

Graphics Card Power Plugs

Just like on the non-Plus version, MSI has upgraded the power input of their GTX 1080 to an 8-pin and a 6-pin. This input configuration is specified for up to 300 watts of power draw.

The uPI uP9511P is the same voltage controller as on the GTX 1080 and GTX 1070.

Graphics Card Memory Chips

This is why the card is called "Plus". The memory chips have been upgraded to faster chips from Micron, which are marked with "D9VRL," which decodes to MT58K256M321JA-110. They are specified to run at 1375 MHz (11,000 MHz GDDR5X effective); the non-Plus card has memory chips that are rated for 1,250 MHz.

Graphics Chip GPU

NVIDIA's GP104 graphics processor is the first consumer chip using the Pascal architecture. It is produced on a 16 nm process at TSMC, Taiwan, and has a transistor count of 7.1 billion and a die size of 314 mm².
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