So this week has been mostly filled with information on the AMD 500 series launch but today Nvidia taking the NDA off of their updated GTX 1080’s that were introduced at the same time as the GTX 1080 Ti. The new GTX 1080’s now have 11Gbps memory, just like the 1080 Ti. MSI sent over the GTX 1080 Gaming X+ for me to check out so today I’m going to run it through our recently refreshed test suite and see how it compares to the GTX 1080 Ti and the original GTX 1080 as well. Being an aftermarket card it should run cooler and quieter than the two Founders Editions that I tested, but how does it all translate to in game performance. I test at 1080p, 1440p, and 4k to see just how they all compare.

Product Name: MSI GTX 1080 11Gbps Gaming X+ 8G

Review Sample Provided by: MSI

Written by: Wes

Pictures by: Wes

Amazon Link: HERE

 

Specifications

Graphics Processing Unit

NVIDIA GeForce® GTX 1080

Interface

PCI Express x16 3.0

Boost / Base Core Clock

1847 MHz / 1708 MHz (OC Mode)

1822 MHz / 1683 MHz (Gaming Mode)

1733 MHz / 1607 MHz (Silent Mode)

Memory Size (MB)

8192

Memory Type

GDDR5X

Memory Interface

256-bit

Memory Clock Speed

11110 MHz (OC)

11010 MHz (Gaming / Silent)

Output

DisplayPort x 3 (Version 1.4) / HDMI (Version 2.0) / DL-DVI-D

Virtual Reality Ready

Y

Digital Maximum Resolution

7680 x 4320

Maximum Displays

4

HDCP Support

2.2

DirectX Version Support

12

OpenGL Version Support

4.5

Multi-GPU Technology

SLI, 2-Way

Power Connectors

6-pin x 1, 8-pin x 1

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Packaging

Red, red everywhere. The packaging for the GamingX+ has a bright red background and then a huge picture of the card on the cover and I love it. You see what you are buying right away. The MSI logo is in the top left corner then the standard Geforce branding in the bottom right corner. You will notice though that they have to point out specifically that this is an 11 Gbps card because it is a different model than the standard GTX 1080. The back of the box is loaded up with information. There are three main sections that show the included gaming app, a section on the lighting, and about the silent cooling. Below all of that, they touch on the Geforce Experience software, system requirements, a few features from Nvidia, and basic product specifications.

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Inside the box the card comes wrapped up in a static protective bag and in a foam tray. Then on top of the card is a thin box with the accessories inside is a  pouch with the MSI logo on it with documentation inside. You get a driver/software disc, a user guide, stickers, and a comic. Wait MSI now includes a comic?? The Lucky the Dragon Computer Workshop comic is great and it runs through how to put your new card in your PC.

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Card Layout and Photos

So out of the box the MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X+ doesn’t look any different than the previous GTX 1080’s. You get that signature MSI gaming look with the dual Frozr fan cooling configuration. The Fan shroud has the red half and the black half slipping things up with backlit red dashes along the top and bottom of the black section. The fans are huge and packed with fins with just the MSI dragons on the fan centers.

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The two huge fans blow down on a floating heatsink with three heatpipes that run from the top all the way through and back out the bottom to pull the heat out and across the heatsink. All three edges are open meaning all of the airflow will be venting into your case. The heatsink itself is not as thick as you would expect and it doesn’t form to the PCB in any way as it looks like a universal solution of sorts. They did, however, add additional heatsinks down at the end of the card right on to important components to help with the cooling on the VRMs.

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Up on the top edge, the fan shroud wraps around partially and houses the backlit and RGB MSI logo and MSI dragon that will face out when installed in a standard case. The three top heatpipes are also visible and look great.

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Also up on the top edge, the Gaming X+ has two SLI bridge connections up on the front and then at the back the power connections. It requires an 8-pin and a 6-pin for power just like the previous MSI GTX 1080. This is a step above the GTX 1080 Founders Edition that only uses an 8-pin though.

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For display connections, the Gaming X+ has three DisplayPorts with a DVI and an HDMI. Each is labeled with a small imprint along with the MSI logo. For ventilation, there isn’t much room but they did get a few small vents below and next to the DVI port. We can see that the PCB and part of the fan shroud stick up about an inch.

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The back of the card has a fill coverage backplate with a semi-gloss finish over it. Then in full gloss, they have a black dragon logo hidden on it. Part of the backplate has vents in it, especially in the area directly behind the CPU itself and then you have the MSI and Gaming Plus branding as well, flipped over to make it readable when installed in your PC. The backplate helps protect the back of the card and keep the card from flexing when hanging as well.

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Our Test Rig and Procedures

Our Test Rig

CPU

Intel i7-5960X

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Memory

Kingston HyperX FURY Black 32GB Quad Channel Kit 2666 MHz

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Motherboard

Gigabyte X99-SOC Champion 

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Cooling

Noctua NH-U12S Cooler

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Power Supply

Corsair AX1200w

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Storage

Kingston Hyper X Savage 960GB SSD

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Case

Primochill Wetbench

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OS

Windows 10 Pro 64-bit

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Our Testing Procedures

3DMark

The same goes for the most current version of 3DMark using the Fire Strike benchmark in normal, extreme, and ultra settings. Tests are also run in the DX12 focused Time Spy benchmark as well.

Unigine Superposition

1080p Medium, 1080p Extreme, 4k Optimized, and 8k Optimized benchmarks all run in DirectX

Unigine Valley Benchmark 1.0

Using the Extreme HD preset to get an average FPS

Catzilla 4k

Default tests for 1080p, 1440p, and 4k resolutions using the overall score for each as our result

SteamVR

Default SteamVR test using Average Quality score

VRMark

Orange and Blue rooms tested, use Average FPS for the result

Ghost Recon Wildlands

Ultra and High detail settings are used in the built-in benchmark run at 1080p, 1440p, and 4k

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Tests are done using the built-in benchmark at High and Ultra graphic settings at both 1080p 1440p, and 4k resolutions.

DOOM

Doom is tested on the Ultra quality setting. Tests are run at 1080p 1440p, and 4k using both OpenGL and Vulkan. The benchmark is a basic one using just the average FPS in the opening scene.

HITMAN 2016

Fullscreen with V-Sync turned off Detail, Texture Quality, Shadow Maps, and Shadow Resolution all set to their highest settings. We test using both DX11 and DX12 at 1080p 1440p, and 4k.

Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation

Built-in benchmark ran at 1080p 1440p, and 4k with graphics settings set to the “Crazy” setting with the exception of turning off V-Sync Mode. The benchmark scenario is set to GPU Focused and we use the Average Framerate for All Batches as the result. Tests are run in DX12

The Division

Built-in benchmark ran at 1080p 1440p, and 4k with graphics settings set to the default “Ultra” setting with the exception of turning off V-Sync Mode

Total War: ROME II

Ultra-setting tested at 1080p 1440p, and 4k, built in forest benchmark

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

Using the built-in benchmark we test with ultra settings at 1440p and 4k

Sniper Elite 3

Ultra-setting tested at 1080p 1440p, and 4k, built in benchmark

Thief

Tested using the “Very High” setting at 1080p 1440p, and 4k with V-sync off

Passmark Performance Test 9

Test using the GPU Compute Score inside of Passmark’s Performance Test 9

CompuBenchCL

Video Composition and Bitcoin tests

Unigine Valley Benchmark 1.0 heat testing

We run through Unigine Valley using the “Extreme HD” preset for 30 minutes to test in game cooling performance with the fan speed set to auto then again with the fan set to 100%.

Power Usage

Using 3dmark Fire Strike with the “performance” preset, we get our “load” power usage number from the peak power usage during our test. We get our numbers from a Kill-A-Watt connected to the test benches power cord.

Noise Testing

Our Noise testing is done using a decibel meter 18 inches away from the video card on the bottom/fan side of the card. We test at both 50% and 100% fan speeds. The 100% test isn’t a representation of typical in-game noise levels, but it will show you how loud a card can be if you run it at its highest setting or if it gets very hot. This is done using a Protmex PT02 Sound Meter that is rated IEC651 type 2 and ANSI S1.4 type 2. Tests are done set weighted to A and set to a slow response using the max function. The ambient noise level in the testing area is 33.3 decibels using the test settings.

 


Synthetic Benchmarks

To start off my performance testing I ran through a few synthetic benchmarks. While they don’t give us a direct answer to how good the 1080 Gaming X+ will perform in game. They do offer a consistent way to compare performance between cards and this is a perfect chance to check out how this card compares to both the GTX 1080 Founders Edition and the GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition that were both also tested. So to start things off I tested using 3DMark. I tested using the Fire Strike benchmark for DX11 performance and Time Spy for DX12 and in Fire Strike, I also tested across 1080p, 1440p, and 4k resolutions. In Fire Strike in the performance setting (1080p) I was extremely surprised at how the Gaming X+ actually came in closer to the Ti than the original GTX 1080. In the two other settings though the TI pulled ahead by a big margin. In Time Spy where we have some of our legacy SLI and Crossfire results in the mix as well, it gets more interesting. The Gaming X+ came in well ahead of the 1080 FE and on par with the RX480’s in crossfire.

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Moving on to the Unigine benchmarks the Gaming X+ came in about where you would expect it in the Valley Benchmark but in the new Superposition the 1080p medium setting results actually had it at the top of the charts. Of course, if you look at all of the other results you will see the TI outperformed in the rest but nonetheless impressive numbers.

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All three tests in Catzilla had a similar outcome as well with the 1080 Ti FE out ahead by a big margin and with the Gaming X+ ahead of the stock GTX 1080 by a decent amount.

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VR Benchmarks

So our Synthetic benchmark section overflowed and the VR tests ended up down here in their own area even though there are just a few benchmarks for VR currently. Anyhow in the first benchmark the SteamVR test it was no surprise that the Gaming X+ maxed the chart with an 11 just like everything from the overclocked GTX 1070 and above. In VRMark I ended up with better results though. The orange room benchmark tests performance in modern VR games and the blue room tests for future looking higher detail games with both looking for 120 FPS as a goal for the smooth gameplay you have to have in VR. Well in the orange room test the Gaming X+ came in oddly just below the founder's edition card, but even the Ti wasn’t far ahead making me think there is a CPU limit at play. The Blue Room results have the Gaming X+ in not far behind the Ti and the 1080’s in SLI though.

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In-Game Benchmarks

Now we finally get into the in game performance that is the main reason people pick up a new video card. To test things out I ran through our recently updated benchmark suite that tests 10 games at three different resolutions (1080p, 1440p, and 4k). I also slipped in a few variations on the same games for comparisons like DX11 to DX12, OpenGL to Vulkan, and a couple of games are just tested at their highest setting and lower but still high detail options to show the performance difference when things are turned down slightly. In total, each video card is tested 41 times and that makes for a huge mess of graphs when you put them all together. To help with that I like to start off with these overall playability graphs that take all of the results and give an easier to read the result. I have one for each of the three resolutions and each is broken up into four FPS ranges. Under 30 FPS is considered unplayable, over 30 is playable but not ideal, over 60 is the sweet spot, and then over 120 FPS is for high refresh rate monitors.

So how did the MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X+ perform? Well, I don’t think it is any surprise at all that it plowed through the 1080p tests with the majority even running up over 120 FPS for those of you who love that buttery smooth 120+ Hz gameplay. At 1440p there were still a few games up past 120 FPS and just two that fell into the 30-59 range that will most likely require a little tweaking. Then at 4k, everything is still playable but about half of the games could use some tweaking to get them up into the 60+ FPS range for smooth gameplay. Overall though, short of picking up a 1080 Ti, this is looking like a great single card setup at all three resolutions.

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As always I also have all of the individual results as well for all of the crazies like me to dig through the results. Like the synthetic benchmarks, the in game performance numbers put the 1080 Gaming X+ up above the GTX 1080 FE and up with the GTX 1080 Ti in some tests bridging the gap between the two cards a little bit. At 4k the Ti has just enough power to push a lot of those on the edge games up into the 60 FPS range though.

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Compute Benchmarks

For those of you who use your computers for more than just gaming, I like to run through a few situations where the GPU might be put to use for compute. My first test is a basic test inside of Passmark’s Performance Test 9 that just runs a basic single precision benchmark. No surprises here, the Gaming X+ comes in a little ahead of the GTX 1080 FE but the 1080 Ti still stomps everything with its additional CUDA cores.

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Then I run through CompubenchCL where I focus on their Video Composition and Bitcoin mining benchmarks. In the Video Composition test, the gap between the Gaming X+ and the GTX 1080 FE is actually really big, big enough for all of those RX480’s and RX580’s to slip in between them. The Gaming X+ is still 30 FPS behind the 1080 Ti though. In the Bitcoin Mining benchmark, the RX480’s and RX580’s are down a little lower and the gap between the Founders Edition and the Gaming + isn’t as wide. The 1080 Ti though is in its own category.

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Cooling, Noise, and Power

For the last batch of testing, I focused on all of the other aspects of a card that you need to keep in mind. Most of these are also very dependent on things that MSI would have decided on and are a lot of times the only things that separate cards from different manufacturers with the same GPUs. My first test was to check out the total power draw of our test system with the 1080 Gaming X+ under load. To do this I tested using 3DMark and a Kill-A-Watt to record the peak wattage draw. I was specifically curious how much power this card was pulling compared to the GTX 1080 Founders Edition. The end result was 371 watts over the 332 watts of the stock 10 Gbps Founders Edition card. This was still down below the 397 watts of the 1080 Ti and surprisingly close to the RX580 numbers from earlier this week as well.

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Next, I busted out our decibel meter and tested the fan noise. This card, like every other card out now turns the fans off under light load so I tested the noise with the fan at 50% and 100% fan speeds to get an idea of the overall noise range of the card, not specifically what kind of noise it will make in game because that depends more on the game, room temperatures, and other aspects. The results were very surprising with the 1080 Gaming X+ being at the bottom of the chart making it the quietest card tested. The result was the same at 50% fan speed as well. It’s a good thing I keep track of fan speeds because taking a look at that chart actually explains exactly why this card is so quiet, the two fans run 500 RPM lower than everything else.

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For my last test, I wanted to check out the cooling performance of the twin Frozr cooling. Especially after seeing that the fans run at an even lower RPM than everything else tested. I used Valley Benchmark on loop to heat up the card and then tested with the stock fan profile and then again with the fans turned all the way up. I did this to see what MSI has the profile doing then again to see just how much the cooler is capable of if needed. At the stock fan speeds the Gaming X+ actually came in closer to the bottom of our charts right out of the hole with an impressive 62 degrees, 19 less than the Founders Edition. With the fans cranked up it also showed that there was still more room left as well with that number dropping down to 45 giving us a delta of 17 degrees of extra cooling. Impressive results on both test.

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Overall and Final Verdict

So going into this we basically knew that with the upgraded memory and an overclock the MSI GTX 11Gbps Gaming X+ would end up being faster than a Founders Edition GTX 1080 with the 10Gbps memory and slower than the GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition. After all of my testing, that’s exactly where it fell. In most cases, it gives you a nice jump over the 1080 FE but the Ti is still at the top of the charts. So that ends up giving the 1080 Gaming X+ way more power than needed at 1080p, enough to play anything at 1440p with the settings maxed, and enough power to play most things with everything cranked up at 4k. The 1080 Ti is still the better pick for pure 4k gameplay though. This is also a great choice if you are looking to game at 1080p or to a lesser extent 1440p with a monitor in the 120/144 Hz range where you really benefit from the butter smooth gameplay at high FPS. But where I was really surprised were the details with MSIs card. When looking at the card I was a little concerned with the cooling because they didn’t really try to pack a thick heatsink in there but the results in our cooling testing spoke for themselves. This is one of the fastest cards on the market but it is running cooler than almost anything tested. The noise performance was the same as well. So in the details that matter when someone is deciding what manufacturer to go with, the Gaming X+ really stands out. MSI even included the cutest comic book to show people how to install their video card

So my complaints about the card were a lot harder to come by. While the cooling performance was great, I would still love to see cards stop getting as tall as they are and MSI has been leading that charge with the huge fans and an inch+ above the top of the PCI slot cover. I also would love to see this card be a little more color neutral to give more of a choice when theming out your PC and frankly to give people who aren’t going red a chance to use this great performing card.

As of writing this, I couldn’t find any pricing information on the new + models with the upgraded memory so I can’t speak to the overall value of the card right now. But Assuming it isn’t anything crazy, the performance numbers speak for themselves on this card. It looks to be a great pickup for anyone looking for near the top performance without stepping up to the GTX 1080 Ti.

fv5tophonors

Live Pricing: HERE

Author Bio
garfi3ld
Author: garfi3ldWebsite: http://lanoc.org
Editor-in-chief
You might call him obsessed or just a hardcore geek. Wes's obsession with gaming hardware and gadgets isn't anything new, he could be found taking things apart even as a child. When not poking around in PC's he can be found playing League of Legends, Awesomenauts, or Civilization 5 or watching a wide variety of TV shows and Movies. A car guy at heart, the same things that draw him into tweaking cars apply when building good looking fast computers. If you are interested in writing for Wes here at LanOC you can reach out to him directly using our contact form.

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