MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Ti GAMING X TRIO Review

MSI has launched a new high end entry to its GeForce GTX 1080 Ti GAMING series lineup. The MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Ti GAMING X TRIO has a lot of performance with improved cooling compared to previous GAMING series video cards. We’ll see how well it performs in several games, and overclock it as high as we can.



We have reviewed MSI’s brand new MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Ti GAMING X TRIO video card. The video card has an MSRP of $799. This video card sits at the high end of MSI’s GAMING lineup, with the highest clock speeds and best cooling of the GAMING series. If you want a video card with more overclocking functions than this video card has, then you will be looking at the more expensive LIGHTNING Z ($869.99) video card.


In our performance evaluation today the MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Ti GAMING X TRIO dominated 4K gaming. With all games we are able to run at least the games default "Ultra" graphics settings at 4K. We never had to lower any game to "High" settings. There were even several games that were at their highest possible in-game settings and still producing very high framerates at 4K.

Forza Motorsport 7 and Project Cars 2, both new games, were playable at the highest possible settings at 4K. We are impressed by Forza Motorsport 7 performance in DX12. Other games like Sniper Elite 4 and DOOM also ran incredibly well at 4K at the highest possible settings. Battlefield 1, which is still well played breezes on through with this video card above 70 FPS at 4K with the highest settings. There are a couple of games that are very demanding, like Deus EX: Mankind Divided and Mass Effect: Andromeda, but even so we managed to play these at "Ultra" settings as well.

Factory Overclock Performance

When it comes to the performance advantage compared to a stock, reference NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti we found the MSI card does well. The factory overclock on the MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Ti GAMING X TRIO allows it to run at 1911MHz with GPU Boost. The cooling keeps the GPU at 68c and under while gaming, and the fans are quiet. That clock speed can provide up to 10% (even some more in some games) better performance compared to a reference NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. That extra performance is noticeable in some games.

Overclock Performance

In our overclocking tests we found we were able to raise the GPU up to 2050MHz stable at the highest voltage. The GPU frequency bounces between 2038MHz to 2050MHz while gaming. This is still a nice improvement over 1911MHz. The cooling improvements are so well done on this video card that temperatures are low whether you leave the fan on automatic or use a custom fan profile. We suggest using a custom fan profile and using at least 75% to 80% fan speed. This produces higher, more stable overclock frequencies. It also allows the voltage to utilize its maximum potential via GPU Boost.

We were also very impressed with the MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Ti GAMING X TRIO's memory overclock. It isn’t often that we find video cards that can bump the memory up to a full 12GHz versus the default of 11GHz. This video card was able to do so. At 12GHz the memory bandwidth increases to 528GB/sec from 484GB/sec at default. That’s a nice bump in bandwidth. It can help some memory limited games especially at 4K.

The combined overclock allows another 5-10% performance bump in games, depending on the particular bottleneck for performance. This puts the bump over a reference GTX 1080 Ti by up to 10%+ in game. We found the overclock to smooth out gameplay in a few games and we could tell the difference while gaming.

Is this the highest overclock on the GPU we’ve ever achieved? No, it is not. It isn’t even the highest we’ve achieved on air-cooling, we have actually received higher on some other air-cooled cards. However, this overclock is average for GTX 1080 Ti GPUs. It’s not below average, it’s not above average, it is average.

Keep in mind the GPU lottery is in play, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes you break even. That said, we certainly won the memory overclock lottery with this video card, and that is impressive. Other than the GPU overclock, the GPU temperatures are also impressive with this video card.

TRIO Improvements

This video card received a few cooling improvements such as the wavy heatsink design, and the three TORX 2.0 fans. You also must include things like the six heat-pipe designs, flat bottom heatsinks, the PWM cooling devices, and higher-end hardware.

It all combines to allowing this video card to run at better temperatures than we experienced on the MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Ti GAMING X video card. Whether overclocked or at default settings, the GAMING X TRIO does run with better thermals. It is also very quiet. The two things you need to keep in mind about this video card, it’s long and very heavy.

The Bottom Line

MSI didn’t really need to bump up the quality and cooling on its GAMING series, but it did anyway. MSI has successfully squeezed a video card right in between the GAMING series and the LIGHTNING series. The MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Ti GAMING X TRIO is so very well cooled, to the point of being similar to the LIGHTNING series.

The way we see it is this, if you don’t need the features of the LIGHTNING Z video card, the MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Ti GAMING X TRIO is an excellent option instead. It’s like having a LIGHTING Z video card without the LN2 cooling option and extra voltage sliders. The GAMING X TRIO runs cool and has the temperature profile to overclock without GPU temperature being a factory at all. If overclocking is very important to you, this is the video card to have.

At $799 this is not an inexpensive video card, but it is less expensive than the LIGHTNING Z and does offer more than the GAMING X. If high-end 4K gaming is your thing, you need the best performance, you want a cool running video card in near silence, and OC-ability, the MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Ti GAMING X TRIO is for you.

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