Today we would like to acquaint you with our review of the remarkable MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming X. Of course, in the future we shall also review the reference model of this GPU and perform several SLI tests, but for now we would like to focus on MSI.
Some time ago we presented to you our review of a small and yet very decent motherboard – MSI Z170I Gaming Pro AC. What is more, we found out that there was a new RAM overclocking record thanks to this motherboard. We doubt that we can achieve such records with the present GPU but this will be no obstacle to presenting a detailed review of MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming X.
If you are interested in MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming X, you can check its price and availability here: http://amzn.to/29aNbyg
- What’s in the box?
- Supported technologies
- A close look at MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming X – build, construction and design
- Specs sheet of MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming X
- Specs sheet of our configuration
- Benchmarks and GeForce GTX 980 comparison
- Gaming tests
- Overclocking capabilities and results
- Temperatures and stability
What’s in the box?
The box of MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming X is slightly bigger than that of Founder’s edition, however, the model inside will leave you pleasantly surprised. Of course, the front part of the box displays what you will find inside, and the back part shows you a list with supported technologies and specifications of GeForce GTX 1080.
After you remove the exterior, inside you will find two other boxes. The first one is above the GPU itself, and in it you will find a disc with drivers (although we recommend that you download them from NVIDIA’s official website, there you will find the latest drivers), a user manual, and a few stickers that you can put on your box. Under this box hides the real beauty called MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming X. It is in an antistatic bag and is secured by several styrofoam pads to keep it from potential drops (we do not recommend any drop tests as this will void the warranty).
Before presenting the GPU itself, we would like to go through the technologies that NVIDIA offers and GeForce GTX 1080 supports. Even though their number is great, we shall have a look at those that were announced at the same event that the American company presented its latest architecture – Pascal.
We begin with Ansel – it gives you the opportunity to view games from a different perspective – literally. Many gamers (after all the GPU targets namely these users) love taking shots that are later posted on the Web in videos or just for fun. Well, Ansel ups the ante and allows this enjoynment to become professional video recording of games, which is just as interesting.
What is Ansel all about? Take it as a camera integrated in a game. Of course, games have different perspectives that show a given scene from different viewing angles, however, with Ansel you are the one who controls this. You can pause a game in a certain moment and take a look at the scene from every possible angle and thus get the most of your gaming experience. Thus, games become more true to life and you can share every unique moment you have captured in a great video or via Google’s VR headset – Cardboard.
NVIDIA VRWorks Audio
We spoke about this technology after NVIDIA announced GeForce GTX 1080. Well, we have a few things to add but the idea behind it is identical. Now that we know that this model performs superbly with FHD resolution (you can check this in the Gaming tests section), we can conclude that if you have a 4K monitor or TV and don’t mind all graphics settings of heavier games to be at their maximum, then NVIDIA’s chip is a very good choice.
Let’s go back to the VRWorks Audio feature. As we have already mentioned, the idea behind it is to provide as realistic audio as possible, so that we may be immerced in the world of virtual reality. This is where the new technology comes into play – it will change your understanding of sound quality in games. According to the manufacturer, everything that surrounds you has an effect on the sound signal you receive. For example, if you are in an empty room, the sound will be much louder than if you are in the same room with many objects that absorbe sound waves. Well, we can’t wait to hear how this will sound (the technology is still being developed by NVIDIA).
The last technology we shall have a look at concerns gamers. Its name is Simultaneous Multi-Projection and it too was announced on May 6th, together with the two Pascal chips, GeForce GTX 1070 and GTX 1080. If the name sounds familiar, you are not mistaken – we have mentioned it before. Despite this we shall remind you of its function and why we think it is that important as to include it in our review of MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming X.
We mentioned above that the most powerful single-chip GPU is a good choice for decent 4K gaming experience. Well, this technology further increases the performance of this graphics card if you are using a resolution of 3840 × 2160 pixels. You may be wondering how this works? NVIDIA thinks that while gaming you focus mainly on the object in front of you, and the peripheral areas are not that important.
This is why when you are playing in 4K, the image before you is being rendered in 3840 х 2160 pixels (this is the most important part of the screen, it is where you focus), and the remaining parts are in FHD (1920 x 1080 p). According to NVIDIA, the loss of quality is very little and is visible only if you pixel peep.
Thanks to this technology the fps increase rapidly, while quality is preserved as much as possible.
MSI Gaming App
Like we said above, Simultaneous Multi-Projection is the last of the technologies we are discussing in this review. However, we can’t but mention the software package MSI provides – Gaming App.
This app offers several options and profiles, and we shall take a look at the most intriguing ones that deserve both our and your attention. We begin with “the home page” where you can find the three operation modes – Silent, Gaming and OC. Although it may sound strange, in Silent mode GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming X uses its stock frequency. The other two modes increase the frequency by the so called overclocking. We reached 1961 MHz by pressing the OC button which translates into 13% increase of the base frequency.
The second bonus that we find in Gaming App is Eye Rest. It provides three modes – Eye Rest, Gaming and Movie, and there is actually a fourth one called Customize (you manipulate the settings on your own). The first one stops the blue light that harms your health and eyesight. Gaming, on the other hand, increases the contrast between black and white so that you may spot your enemies even in the darkest scenes of a game. The last one applies dynamic and contrast curve adjustment so that you may fully enjoy your favorite movie.
The last option that we shall have a look at does not increase the performance, nor the image quality, but brings additional effects in your box. You may validly suppose that this is LED. Thanks to it you can take control of the light effects of GeForce GTX 1080. You can choose between “No animation”, “Breathing”, “Flashing”, “Double flashing” and “Random”. Naturally, you can turn all LED lights off if you don’t like this effect. In our opinion, these are the most interesting technologies that mostly concern gamers and the performance of this GPU, part of the Pascal architecture.
A close look at MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming X – build, construction and design
Now that we’ve examined the technologies from a software perspective, it is time to see how MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming X has been built and why it is such a good choice as a non-reference GPU. We must note again that Founder’s Edition is the new NVIDIA reference model that is to be found only in GeForce GTX 1070 and GeForce GTX 1080 for now.
Like we said in the beginning of this review, the box is smaller than that of Founder’s Edition. Nonetheless, the MSI GPU itself is a centimeter larger (26 vs 27 cm), which means that the chip with all its components is different from the reference model. Additionally, the size of this GPU is not the largest we’ve seen.
We begin with the core, whose name, as we already know, is Pascal. The latest NVIDIA architecture allowed an increase in performance and decrease in power consupmtion that more or less affects the core temperature. Also, the latter has been manufactured through a 16 nm process, codenamed GP104. GeForce GTX 1080 uses four Graphics Processing Clusters, each of which provides five Streaming Multiprocessor and eight 32-bit memory controllers.
Each SM contains 128 CUDA cores, 256 KB of register file capacity, a 96 KB shared memory unit, 48 KB of total L1 cache storage, and eight texture units. All this makes a total of 2560 CUDA cores, 160 texture and 64 raster cores. The memory type is GDDR5X and the bus – 256-bit. GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming X has a base operational frequency of 1607 MHz that can go up to 1733 MHz in “normal state”. As we mentioned above, MSI have included software that automatically overclocks this model up to 1847 MHz – the frequency might increase depending on the electrical current and temperatures. The maximum frequency we managed to reach after the factory overclock was 1961 MHz.
Construction and design
The chip itself is fully customized and you can tell this by the 8+6 pin power connector that supplies the 16 nm chip of GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming X. Additionally, one can observe the so called “Close Quarters Cooling” which stands for the parts that cover the chip itself – there is a plate that is placed on the memories of the GPU and it allows for higher overclock capabilities and better stability.
The other part of Close Quarters Cooling is a cooling system which is in proximity to the connectors and has many micro fins that additionally disperse the heat from the chips and thus keep temperatures of the VRM modules (modules for voltage control) as low as possible. GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming X offers 10-phase module, while the reference model – only 5-phase. Additionally, high-end Military Class (MILL-STD-810G quality certificate) components allow for high overclocking capabilities without additional temperature increase of the GPU (we conducted temperatre tests to confirm this, of course).
Above them you can see MSI’s latest cooler called Twin Frozr VI. Its bottom part, where the base directly meets the graphics chip, uses copper-nickel alloy. For the purpose of heat dispersion, MSI has added a total of six copper heatpipes (8 and 6 mm in diameter) that are located below the nickel-plated copper plate. They run through the entire width of the aluminum fins whose shape is regular below and irregular above – perhaps this ensures maximum silent operation of the fans and maximum income of cool air that is supposed to cool the chip.
Above the base there are two 10 mm fans that are slightly different from the conventional ones. Their name is TORX 2.0 and have been designed in a very interesting way that provides not only efficiency but also additional style. We noticed that every other fin has a flat element in its longer part that speeds up the airflow, whereas conventional fans simply direct air to the base. According to the manufacturer, this technology increases air pressure with 22%. Furthermore, there is Zero Frozr.
For those of you who are not familiar with this term, we provide a short explanation. This a technology by MSI that stops the fans under certain temperature value so that they may preserve their lifetime and reduce the unpleasant noise (if you enjoy absolute silence, Zero Frozr is a good solution). Here TORX 2.0 fans do not operate below 60 degrees Celsius – do not worry if the temperature is slighly above the normal or simply if the fans are not operating. Of course, MSI Gaming App allows you to turn off Zero Frozr and choose the fans to work incessantly – do not be afraid about their lifetime because their base is reinforced by Double Ball Bearings. Around the fins one can also find a plastic cover that has LED lights, which can be controlled entirely by you, like we already said.
Now that we have examined the upper part, it is time to discuss the back and side sections. Fortunately, MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming X includes the so called Backplate. On it we find the MSI logo and several cuts through which some parts of the GPU can be spotted. The main idea behind this plate is to protect the back of the graphics card. When we removed it, we noticed a very strange thing. Slightly below the connectors we found another power connector (it is in the first photo marked with red color) that gave us a lot of food for thought. The backplate does not need power supply and there is nothing else to be found on the back, apart from it. Is there going to be another modification of this model? Well, we hope we will find out soon.
The side offers uses almost the same design language of the Backplate. Again one can observe similar cuts that add aggressiveness to the overall style. MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming X features three Display Ports (1.4), one HDMI (4.0) and DL-DVD-D, and the digital maximum resolution is 7680 х 4320 pixels. The GPU weighs 1.1 kg and comes with 3 years of warranty.
Specs sheet of MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming X
|Base Core Clock||
|Boost Core Clock||
|Memory speed||10 Gbps|
|Memory type and size||GDDR5X, 8GB|
|Digital maximum resolution||7680×4320@60Hz|
|Video output||3x DP 1.42, HDMI 2.0b DL-DVI-D|
|Technologies supported by
GeForce GTX 1080
|Dimensions||26.7 cm x 11.12 cm, dualslot|
|Maximum power consumption||180 Watts|
|Power connectors||1x 8-pin and 1x 6-pin|
|Recommended PSU||500 Watts|
Specs sheet of our configuration
|CPU||Intel Core i7-5820K (6-core, 3.30 – 3.60 GHz, 15MB cache)|
|Motherboard||MSI X99A Godlike Gaming Carbon|
|RAM||16GB (2x 8192MB) – DDR4, 2133Mhz|
|GPU||1x MSI GeForce GTX 1080 (8GB GDDR5X)|
|HDD/SSD||256GB M.2 SSD|
|Connectivity||LAN 10/1000/1000 Mbps|
Benchmarks and GeForce GTX 980 comparison
In this section we present some benchmarks that put this GPU to an extreme test, so that we may observe its performance and how temperatures are handled. You might know that apart from the factory overclock, you can even further increase the GPU frequencies yourself. In the next screenshots you can find our tests in Silent mode that restores the standard GeForce GTX 1080 frequencies, and further down you can see the results from the GPU running at 1961 MHz.
3DMark Firestrike and Firestrike Ultra
The heaviest 3DMark benchmark is Firestrike. Since the latest package separated all tests, we shall have a look at each of them below. Besides the “normal” version we have also included the Ultra one, which renders the test in 4K resolution – there was no chance of us missing this opportunity to see how GeForce GTX 1080 performs at this high resolution.
3DMark Sky Diver
We continue with the next test part of perhaps the toughest benchmark software you can buy (not counting Furmark). Again, the results display base frequency performance.
3DMark Cloud Gate
Juxtaposition of the abovce results and those of GeForce GTX 980
Several months ago we tested a motherboard meant for overclocking maniacs – ASRock Z170 OC Formula. It was namely in this review that we used GeForce GTX 980. Even though we did not conduct gaming tests of the GPU itself, we managed to test this graphics card with the 3DMark and Unigine Heaven benchmarks. The table below displays the results of both GPUs and you can observe the great difference between the present chip and its predecessor.
|Model||GeForce GTX 980||GeForce GTX 1080||Difference|
|Unigine Heaven 3.0||4262||6091||+43%|
|Unigine Heaven 4.0||3379||5170||+53%|
|3DMark Cloud Gate||90 986||140 630||+55%|
|3DMark Sky Diver||46 677||77 591||+66%|
|3Dmark Fire Strike||14 223||22 236||+56%|
All tests were conducted with NVIDIA’s official driver, Version 368.39
|Mode||Tomb Raider (1080p, Low)||Tomb Raider (1080p, Medium)||Tomb Raider (1080p, Max)|
|Silent||581 fps||341 fps||173 fps|
|OC||606 fps||342 fps||176 fps|
|Mode||F1 2015 (1080p, Low)||F1 2015 (1080p, Medium)||F1 2015 (1080p, Max)|
|Silent||207 fps||166 fps||150 fps|
|OC||209 fps||166 fps||151fps|
|Mode||GTA 5 (1080p, Low)||GTA 5 (1080p, Medium)||GTA 5 (1080p, Max)|
|Silent||173 fps||135 fps||63 fps|
|OC||178 fps||139 fps||63 fps|
|Mode||Hitman: 2016 (1080p, Low)||Hitman: 2016 (1080p, Medium)||Hitman: 2016 (1080p, Max)|
|Silent, Direct X 11||122 fps||115 fps||99 fps|
|OC, Direct X 11||125 fps||117 fps||103 fps|
|Silent, Direct X 12||140 fps||137 fps||115 fps|
|OC, Direct X 12||144 fps||139 fps||116 fps|
|Mode||Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (1080p, Low)||Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (1080p, Medium)||Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (1080p, Max)|
|Silent||225 fps||196 fps||164 fps|
|OC||232 fps||202 fps||167 fps|
Overclocking capabilities and results
As we promised above, we now share our results after the factory overclock that MSI Gaming App offers free of charge. Yes, we managed to overclock the GPU ourselves at a stable frequency of 2038 MHz (2050 MHz max) but we decided to conduct all tests at 1961 MHz. The above gaming titles display a difference albeit a small one – after all there is an increase in both benchmarks and games.
|Model||GeForce GTX 1080 (base frequency)||GeForce GTX 1080 (OC)||Difference|
|Unigine Heaven 3.0||6091||6195||+2%|
|Unigine Heaven 4.0||5170||5282||+2,1%|
|3DMark Cloud Gate||140 630||141 854||~+1%|
|3DMark Sky Diver||77 591||78 755||+1,4%|
|3Dmark Fire Strike||22 236||23 053||+3,7%|
|3Dmark Fire Strike Ultra||5 396||5 408||~+0,3%|
Temperatures and stability
We went through all tests and benchmarks, and now it is time to say a few words about temperatures. After we had a look at the construction of the GPU and the updated cooler, we can happily announce that the results in this section are more than pleasant. Unfortunately, during the temperature tests we forgot to take a few screenshots (and we do apologize) that would have confirmed everything stated in the next paragraphs.
Even though in the present configuration we got around 71-2 degrees Celsius, we managed to test the GPU alone and the temperatures dropped a bit. The maximum temperature we registered was 69 degrees, and this was even after an overclock which proves yet again that MSI has done a good job with the cooling design.
After 30 minutes of 100% load in Silent mode, the GPU’s average temperatures were around 66-7 degrees Celsius. Additionally, the fans were spinning at 1120 rpm, the speed was at 47% and we can confirm that we could not hear how Twin Frozr VI was operating. Then we decided to check how GeForce GTX 1080 will perform at the maximum frequency of 1961 MHz. This is where you will be really surprised – almost everything remained the same. For an hour of 100% stress test the average temperature was 67-8 degrees, the fans’ rpm were 1150 and the speed – 47%.
Unfortunately, all things must come to an end and the time has come for our final thoughts on the aftermarket model GeForce GTX 1080, MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming X. We conclude with somewhat mixed feelings – do not mistake us. This is so because we have to part with the awesome GPU but we are nonetheless quite happy that this review will reach you with the necessary information on the currently most powerful single-chip GPU on the market.
This MSI model provides everything you need – low temperatures, silence, overclocking capabilities, standard dimensions and very stylish design. Let’s begin this conclusion with the design. We can’t say that the cooler of Founder’s Edition is ugly – on the contrary. Despite this, MSI provides additioal LED lights, two 10 mm TornX 2.0 fans and the Zero Frozr technology – all this contributes to the style and silence in your box. Furthermore, the Twin Frozr VI cooler did a great job and managed to keep the temperature of GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming X up to 70 degrees Celsius without reaching 50% of its potential.
We can’t but mention the overclock option that is brought about by a single mouse click, thanks to the MSI Gaming App that can be dowloaded from the official website of the Taiwanese company. Unfortunately, we did not reach 2.1 GHz or more after overclocking, but still registered maximum frequencies of 2050 MHz and stable 2038 MHz, which is approximately +15% increase free of charge. Of course, this manipulation is at your own risk, so think twice if it’s your first time. We are still unaware why under the backplate we found another power connector – we hope that MSI will have good news for us in the coming weeks/months.
If you are interested in MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming X, you can check its price and availability here: http://amzn.to/29aNbyg
- Stylish design and great build quality
- Frozr Zero
- Cool and silent, thanks to Twin Frozr VI
- Factory overclock
- Added performance with DirectX 12
- Limited overclocking capability