It goes without saying that Nvidia’s RTX 3080 GPU launch caused greater shockwaves than typical releases of next-gen GPUs. The card provided a step change in performance, with far greater performance per dollar (at MSRP) metrics, and massive gains in rasterization and ray tracing performance.
Beating AMD to the punch on their own return to the top-end of the GPU market, Nvidia showed (and proved) that they were there to stay, at least for this generation.
Amongst the fanfare of a shiny, new GPU launch however, was an epic rise in the crypto currency world. These digital currencies can be ‘mined’ by powerful GPUs just like this one – in fact more people than ever are using all tiers of cards to mine, causing huge industry shortages against a backdrop of large silicon production shortfalls.
And then weeks later, MSI entered the fold with their new, range-topping Suprim X card, knocking their previous king, the Gaming X Trio card off its top spot. Let’s take a look at their 3080 Suprim X, and see if it really is the best GPU that you can’t buy.
(Disclaimer: As I’ve said in other pieces on the website, GPU stock is an issue which is impacting everyone – and something a board partner like MSI, also won’t want to be happening. It’s important to mention the current contexts, but for the rest of this review I’ll be evaluating the Suprim X card on its merits as a gaming GPU, the whole ‘mining & stock situation’ aside)
Releasing alongside the lower priced 3070 card and higher priced 3090 GPU (a card more so aimed at professionals or heavy entusuiauts), the 3080 is the range topping card for the many, providing top-end performance of Nvidia’s latest and greatest features.
The new GPUs come with Nvidia’s 2nd generation RT cores, dedicated processing power for Ray Tracing accelerated applications and workflows. The 68 on this card is more than the 48 on the previous-gen 2080 Super, but the more important factor is that these 2nd gen RT cores are a huge step up from the previous generation.
This means that alongside much better rasterization performance which we’ll come to later, those looking to use Ray Tracing can do so with less of a performance impact than before. It also means that software suites like Nvidia Broadcast work really well on this card. Nvidia Broadcast is a suite of applications designed for streamers and content creators – allowing the user to use AI to blue or remove webcam backgrounds. The software can even remove microphone background noise in real time, and track movement in a camera frame – cropping and moving with the subject.
With the 3000 series, DLSS is also better than ever. The AI driven, resolution scaling tech allows you to render the game out on the GPU side at a lower resolution, and utilise AI to upscale this image with far less of a visual fidelity impact than before, thanks to AI. And the tech really works – you’ll see our DLSS On vs Off numbers in the benchmarks section below, but also the visual impact in the gaming benchmark playlist; which shows the recorded runs for each game.
The 3080 also boasts 10GB of GDDR6X memory, 6GB less than on AMDs new RX 6800XT, but seemingly enough for the games in our testing. With that being said, I would expect the ‘Super’ refreshes of these cards to have more memory.
With a boost clock speed of upto 1920MHz, this card also runs faster than the reference and founders designs, which sit around the 1710MHz mark – something which owes thanks to the Suprim X cooler on this card, and subsequently bolstered power delivery.
MSI have actually opted for 3 x 8-pin power connectors on this GPU, which looks frankly ridiculous in most systems. I would like to see Nvidia’s new, compact 12-pin connector more widely adopted, but if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it… I guess?
The design of the MSI GPU is by far and away the most standout part – while I don’t think it is quite as sleek as an ASUS STRIX cooler design, the build quality is the best I’ve ever seen on a GPU. A solid metal backplate, which has some real thickness, is a welcome addition. So to is the RGB implementation with a precision etched dragon logo up top.
The fans sit inside a monstrous front shroud, and RGB sweeps around every area imaginable on this card. It is without a shadow of a doubt an insane graphics card, and one which stands out in any system. Despite this, I don’t think it looks at all tacky or overly ‘gamer-y’ to coin a term I don’t really like.
It is also one of the heaviest GPUs I’ve ever seen, weighing in at a mental 1.8KG, that’s around 40% more than Nvidia’s own 3080 Founders Edition card, which is solid metal, and by no means a light design.
This design does come at a cost, though – a staggering $200 MSRP premium over the $700 Founders Edition card. This takes the GPU ever closer to that $1000 mark at MSRP, but seemingly still $29 cheaper than the STRIX card. (Once again those are all MSRP numbers, so take with a large pinch of salt).
Is this an expensive GPU? Absolutely. Are there better value options on the market? Most certainly. Does that mean you shouldn’t buy it? Not so fast there…
While talking about pricing feels a little redundant at the time of writing, the performance edge this card gives you, coupled with the insane cooler and top quality build quality gives you a decision to make – I love this card, but you will certainly pay a solid premium for it.
As you’d expect from an RTX 3080 the performance is top notch. 4K 60FPS? Light work. Ray Tracing? Turn that on. 1440p? Child’s play! In all seriousness, though, through our test system which consists of a Ryzen 5 5600X (the highest end straight-gaming CPU), 32GB of RAM and liquid CPU cooling, provided a great insight into the performance of this card.
We tested the card against AMD’s 6800, and Nvidia’s own 3070 (ASUS TUF cooler), 3060Ti (Gigabyte Eagle OC cooler), 3060 (ASUS STRIX cooler) and the 2060 from last gen (Gigabyte PC cooler)
Ray Tracing still has a solid performance impact on the frame rate, though this dent is lower and more manageable than before. Ray Tracing isn’t going to be a feature everyone wants to adopt, at least not yet, but it has to be said that with RTX On, while also utilising DLSS is a force to be reckoned with.
That is what hurts AMD the most at the moment on the GPU side of the equation: the lack of DLSS to offset their already less mature, more intense Ray Tracing tech. This makes the Nvidia cards a much easier buy for lots of people.
We haven’t had chance to test the higher end 6800XT yet, and the non XT version is by no means the 3080’s direct competitor, so keep your eyes peeled for our coverage of that card.
DLSS is perhaps our favourite feature about the RTX cards, though. Even if you don’t care about Ray Traced lighting or reflections, the value add of DLSS is immense. With minimal visual impact on the quality, auto or balanced presents, and a more intense hit when using it on ‘Performance’ mode for maximum frame rate, it’s a great feature.
I think without DLSS Ray Tracing would still be a tricky sell, at least on the lower end cards in the stack, but the 3080 fares really well.
You can also check out an RTX On /Off comparison below, using this MSI RTX 3080 Suprim X card to see the visual difference of using Ray Tracing.
Where to Buy
The RTX 3080 is fantastic card, and the MSI Suprim X cooler builds on this platform in a way which has to be given credit. It’s a pricey GPU in an MSRP market, and just a little bit bonkers – but we love it.
It takes the fight to ASUS’ STRIX card well and truly, and leaves no doubt in our mind that amongst the Gaming X Trio and Suprim models, MSI shows up in a big way for the enthusiast gamer.
If you’d like to see our full range of RTX 3060 build videos, check out the content below: