MSI GeForce RTX 2080 GAMING X TRIO Review

We review MSI GeForce RTX 2080 GAMING X TRIO in the latest 2018 games using all the RTX features capable at this time. We compare performance at 1440p and 4K with an overclocked GTX 1080 and RX Vega 64. DXR Reflection Ray Tracing in Battlefield V and Adaptive Shading RTX technology in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus.

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Conclusion

Today we evaluated our first custom retail add-in-board partner video card sporting the new NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 GPU. The $849.99 MSRP MSI GeForce RTX 2080 GAMING X TRIO video card has a custom PCB build, custom huge heatsink and triple fans with a high factory overclock. This is a price premium over the Founders Edition pricing, and is not a cheap RTX 2080, not that any of these RTX cards could be considered "cheap." At that price it has a lot to live up to, so let’s look back at performance and overclocking.

Performance

Performance of the MSI GeForce RTX 2080 GAMING X TRIO was a lot higher than we expected to be honest. In this review we paid special attention to utilize factory overclocked video cards to compare with. We compared with an overclocked MSI GeForce GTX 1080 GAMING X video card that has a high GTX 1080 factory boost clock. In our testing that video card boosts to 1923MHz on average, which gives the GTX 1080 a really good fighting chance.

Unfortunately for the MSI GeForce GTX 1080 GAMING X, the MSI GeForce RTX 2080 GAMING X TRIO also carries an aggressive boost clock speed. With the improved cooling on the MSI RTX 2080 GAMING X video card it could also achieve very high clock speeds for an RTX 2080 GPU. When done so, the RTX 2080 just lays the smack down on the GTX 1080.

We experienced performance improvements in the 35-45% range! In fact, we even experienced a difference up to 56% faster! A ~40% average performance improvement (however without any RTX features) would be a worthy upgrade from generation to generation. But throw on top of that the potential with RTX features and you got a really nice upgrade path even from the GeForce GTX 1080.

We also included a factory overclocked ASUS ROG STRIX Radeon RX Vega 64 OC video card in the mix as well. It seems to keep up well with the GeForce GTX 1080 these days, even surpassing it in some games. However, up against the new MSI GeForce RTX 2080 GAMING X TRIO it is no match. Similar to the GeForce GTX 1080 the gains in performance above Vega 64 were very large with the highly factory overclocked RTX 2080 GPU.

4K Gaming Viable

We mentioned this in a past preview that it seems that with GeForce RTX 2080 4K gaming may be viable in some games. This is definitely true with the MSI GeForce RTX 2080 GAMING X TRIO video card. Its very high boost clock allows very good performance in many games at 4K. Battlefield V, Call of Duty, Far Cry 5, Forza Horizon 4, Wolfenstein II and even Shadow of the Tomb Raider all experienced a good gameplay experience at 4K with maximum to near maximum settings.

It was only months ago that it took a GeForce GTX 1080 Ti to offer a good 4K experience. It seems highly factory overclocked RTX 2080 can now also offer a great 4K experience even in modern 2018 games. The GeForce GTX 1080 and Vega 64 lag way behind at 4K and the factory overclocked RTX 2080 is on a whole other playing field.

Overclocking and Performance

The only real downside, which is a stretch, is the fact that there isn’t much headroom for overclocking on the MSI GeForce RTX 2080 GAMING X TRIO video card. We say this is a stretch because the default factory boost clock of 1860MHz plus the improved cooling is really allowing the GPU to reach 1980MHz already, which is very near the capacity of the GPU in terms of clock speed anyway.

So, on one hand, MSI is already giving you the most overclock you can get safely. But then on the other hand, that means enthusiasts don’t have a lot of room left to play with. The small 9% gain on Power Limit is too little. This GPU might have what it takes to sustain 2085MHz if the Power Limit weren’t reached, and with a lot of voltage. As it is, we are restrained to only 2055MHz.

The overclock to 2055MHz plus the memory at 16GHz give us roughly a 9% performance improvement in games over the already incredible performance theMSI GeForce RTX 2080 GAMING X TRIO delivers.

The way you have to look at this video card is that you are basically paying that price premium for MSI doing the overclocking work for you and delivering the near maximum potential in performance of the GPU already with the boost clock and cooling.


RTX Features Unite

In this review we have had a chance now to play with the most RTX features to date. With Battlefield V we utilized DXR and tried all the different quality levels at 1080p and 1440p. DXR performance is just out of the question at 1440p on this video card, even at low quality. We had to set the resolution down to 1080p and the DXR quality setting to "Low" just to achieve near 50FPS on average while gaming. Even this wasn’t enough, as DXR adds a lot of inconsistency to performance. It makes the game choppy, laggy, and framerates swing all over the place. It makes the game just not very fun in multiplayer. At this time, we suggest leaving DXR turned off in this game until they fix the performance issues. Hopefully with the new game patch coming out today the game will have better DXR performance. We plan to completely evaluate DXR in this game once the patch is out.

The other big problem with this game is DX12 API itself. We saw massive drops in performance in BFV just using DX12 over DX11. When you take that huge performance loss enabling DX12 and put on top of it DXR, it just makes for a horrid experience. We hope they can improve DX12 API performance. If they can actually improve DX12 performance and have it help performance, DXR may not be so bad, but as of writing this, it is simply bad.

The other new RTX feature called NVIDIA Adaptive Shading in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus based on Content Adaptive Shading (CAS) is one RTX technology that does work great! We experienced about an 8% performance increase in the game using the default "Balanced" quality versus turning it Off. The game truly doesn’t need the extra performance, but it is nice to see a technology that does what it says for a change and doesn’t degrade image quality. This is a feature we’d like to see in more games to improve performance. Like many RTX features though, it is necessary for the game developer to implement it.


The Bottom Line

There is no getting around the fact that $849.99 is a lot of money for a video card, and we still feel the GeForce RTX 2080 is overpriced. The good though is that the MSI GeForce RTX 2080 GAMING X TRIO does benefit a lot from the custom design, cooling and high boost clock. The performance level you get out-of-the-box is at the top of GeForce RTX 2080 performance.

What you get is a very fast RTX 2080 GPU based video card that aces 1440p gaming and also allows a good 4K experience. It seems to offer a decent performance uplift from a highly factory overclocked GeForce GTX 1080 and Vega 64. The performance is enough that it will change your gameplay experience at 1440p and 4K for the better. The MSI GeForce RTX 2080 GAMING X TRIO will allow you to experience new 2018 games at their best.

In addition, you will have access to the RTX ecosystem once games support DXR, NVIDIA Adaptive Shading and hopefully DLSS eventually. In terms of build quality and performance we are impressed with the MSI GeForce RTX 2080 GAMING X TRIO. It delivers on all fronts, it will cost you a price premium, but you will also be getting a premium RTX 2080 performance experience.

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(MSI GeForce RTX 2080 GAMING X TRIO)

If you would like to see how other GPUs stack up with these newest RTX GPUs, check out our RTX 2070 vs RTX 2080 vs GTX 1080 Ti vs GTX 1070, ASUS ROG STRIX RTX 2080 Ti and 2080 4K Preview, and ASUS ROG STRIX RTX 2080 Ti and 2080 1440p Preview articles.

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