MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Gaming X 11G Review

Board And Cooling

MSI relies on an unconventional layout that was seemingly designed with thermal requirements in mind.

This is apparent in MSI's implementation of eight real power phases for the GPU, enabled by an ON Semiconductor NCP81274 multi-phase synchronous controller. With one TI 53603A per phase, this card uses a special gate driver to communicate with the control circuits.

For these, MSI relies on two ON Semiconductor (formerly Fairchild) FDPC5018SG dual N-channel MOSFETs for the high and low side of each phase. The way MSI lays these out provides a nice spacial distribution of hot spots under the heat sink.

The coils are encapsulated ferrite core chokes, which many board makers get from an OEM with their own logo on top. In this case, they do their job as they should. The rest of the smoothing is achieved by polymer capacitors.

A total of 11 Micron MT58K256M321JA-110 GDDR5X ICs are organized around the GP102 processor. They operate at 11 Gb/s data rates, which helps compensate for the missing 32-bit memory controller compared to Titan X. We asked Micron to speculate why Nvidia didn't use the 12 Gb/s MT58K256M321JA-120 modules advertised in its datasheet, and the company mentioned they aren't widely available yet, despite appearing in its catalog. Because Nvidia sells its GPU and the memory in a bundle, MSI has very little room to innovate in this regard.

The memory's power supply is controlled by a two-phase uPI Semiconductor uP1658P. In contrast to the GPU's voltage regulation circuitry, MSI covers the high and low side of each power phase with one FDPC5018SG N-channel MOSFET.

The encapsulated ferrite core chokes used for the memory's power supply are standard mid-range coils offered as a cost-effective solution suitable for automatic assembly.

Current monitoring is handled by a triple-channel Texas Instruments INA3221.

Inside of MSI's Cooler

This card's backplate is mostly aesthetic, though it also adds rigidity. Unfortunately, the plate doesn't help with cooling.

Of course, we really wish that MSI would have done more to make the backplate functional, since the memory's voltage regulation circuitry could use additional cooling.

This happens because the "sandwich"-style plate on MSI's GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming X is now shorter on the Ti variant, since there's now a real VRM heat sink on top of the board responsible for cooling the memory modules and power circuitry. If you sense danger in the air, there's a good chance you have an eye for spotting design shortcomings.

The cooler itself is a behemoth that MSI divides into two parts. This isn't a bad idea for encouraging airflow and turbulence. The galvanized sink transfers thermal energy from the GPU to four 6mm heat pipes and a single 8mm pipe made from nickel-plated composite material. The VRM heat sink cools MOSFETs and gate drivers. We would like to see a multi-part solution cooling the chokes, too, though.

Two 95mm fans host 14 rotor blades each. Their steep angle suggests a bias to maximizing static pressure. As we've seen in the past, this concept can work well.

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23 comments
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  • Dark Lord of Tech
    Nice Review , thanks again.
  • Scorpionking20
    Thanks. I would love a database of clocks/temps/noise comparing differing cards. I'm looking to sidegrade my 1070's to a 1080ti, and am not in a rush. Noise bugs me a lot more than others, so I try to go for the most quiet solution...but I may be getting a Ryzen with a proper loop too, so if I did that I may get a FE card to throw into the loop...too many options.
  • FormatC
    I've already tested four cards in Germany (four more in pipeline), all other stuff is already in translation. After publishing a few more cards on US site, we will put also a kind of landing/summary page with comparable data ;)

    But I can't spoiler the other reviews results before publishing it ;)
  • zthomas
    Sound and temp is it increased with this card? .. with its own cooler how much cooler? Lots of fans pushing air.. yeah I updated my case.. has three large fans.. one thing i don't get.. I have seen nothing of temperature controls, no meters nothing to indicate temperatures inside the case.. or nothing showing use a peak times during gaming..
  • FormatC
    I can't understand your question, sorry.

    But you can monitor the GPU temperature by yourself with tools like GPU-Z or MSI Afterburner (also with an OSD). Then compare the results with my IR pictures and you have a good point to calculate the other temps by yourself. ;)
  • derekullo
    Wish it had some Titan Xp benchmarks since that's the competition.
  • FormatC
    The problem is:
    Nvidia has never sampled this card.

    I have here a Quadro P6000 and this card is similar. Due the thermal limits of Nvidias stock cooler it is not significant faster. Ok, a little bit, but not a whole universe. And Nvidia will not be amused, if I use a 5000 USD workstation card in gaming benchmarks ;)
  • LwNickV
    I have a question about Overclocking, you mention you need to "max out the voltage slider". But i saw it mentioned in another review that Voltage Slider is locked for this card. So what do you mean with that statement? Is just upping the Power Target to 330 enough to reach 2000 mhz+-?
  • lorfa
    What exactly is at the hotspot?
  • Sam Hain
    2471832 said:
    I have a question about Overclocking, you mention you need to "max out the voltage slider". But i saw it mentioned in another review that Voltage Slider is locked for this card. So what do you mean with that statement? Is just upping the Power Target to 330 enough to reach 2000 mhz+-?


    Tom's was given an unlocked version of MSI AB back in March to test an FE Ti with it and was done using H20 cooling; http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/geforce-gtx-1080-ti-water-cooling,4975-2.html They also give instructions on how to manipulate AB to access the voltage settings, until a new(er), unlocked version of AB rolls...

    "We're fortunate enough to have a version of MSI’s Afterburner utility unlocked especially for us. If you want access to similar settings before a new version of Afterburner is released, you can manually add your 1080 Ti to the third-party database using the VDDC_Generic_Detection entry under the VEN_10DE&DEV_1B06&SUBSYS_120F10DE&REV_?? key. A quick search online should turn up plenty of in-depth instructions on how to do this."

    However, you can just move the POWER-LIMIT slider to the max, along with bumping your clock settings. These aftermarket cards will crack past 2K MHz, no problem w/out touching voltage, this card included... It's a CHAMP!
  • Joonhong
    Good review. I guess it is still hard to fully enjoy UHD games with a single card. I wait for the VOLTA!
  • FormatC
    I'm playing only in UHD and have two rigs - one with a water cooled 1080 Ti and my gaming table with two water cooled 1080 non-Ti as SLI. But to be honest, the single card solution gives me the better experience. I'm really sensitive for stuttering. Games like Prey, Andromeda and Ghost Recon are running well on this oc'ed 1080 Ti in UHD (without this power-hungry Nvidia effects). It is not 100% perfect, but better than all this SLI drops und stuttering. And it's more efficient ;)
  • Fiqar_
    Great review!
  • Fiqar_
    What a beast!
  • DotNetMaster777
    The review is very nice
  • TMRichard
    Hey do you guys happen to have a review coming out for the GIGABYTE Aorus Xtreme GTX 1080 Ti? I think you'll agree that the card's clock speeds (Core and VRAM are boosted a fair amount) are wicked fast even compared to this one from MSI!
  • FormatC
    The review of the Aorus 1080 Ti Extreme Edition is already online in Germany and currently in translation. :)

    So don't worry. Also online in German are the EVGA 1080 Ti FTW3 and the Zotac 1080 Ti Amp! Extreme. Both are also in translation now. The Galax 1080 Ti EXOC Black and the Palit 1080 Ti SuperJetstream are in the Pipeline, after this I test the Asus Strix too. :)

    But atm I'm reviewing the single-slot Galax GTX 1070 Katana with a BIOS-improvement togeter with Galax ;)
  • Sam Hain
    482859 said:
    I'm playing only in UHD and have two rigs - one with a water cooled 1080 Ti and my gaming table with two water cooled 1080 non-Ti as SLI. But to be honest, the single card solution gives me the better experience. I'm really sensitive for stuttering. Games like Prey, Andromeda and Ghost Recon are running well on this oc'ed 1080 Ti in UHD (without this power-hungry Nvidia effects). It is not 100% perfect, but better than all this SLI drops und stuttering. And it's more efficient ;)


    The GTX 1080 Ti was the answer for me dropping a 2-way GTX 980 Ti setup... Great for titles that supported it BUT SLI support in newer titles is waning. With these newer GPU's getting more and more powerful, with each series release especially the top-tier ones, SLI has seen it's hey-day IMO.
  • FormatC
    I have the feeling, that Nvidia really dislike Multi-GPU and not one of the latest AA games (mostly Nvidia sponsored) was supporting it 100%.
  • WalterDisney
    This may be the card I upgrade to. Looking to get a 1080 Ti, but not sure which manufacturer to go with :(
  • Sam Hain
    2307281 said:
    This may be the card I upgrade to. Looking to get a 1080 Ti, but not sure which manufacturer to go with :(


    For the most part, the vendor versions do not vary much other than the overclock's, cooling solutions and "make-up" they slap on them from the factory, with some exceptions. However, take note of the following before deciding:

    1. effectiveness of cooling solution/fans, etc.
    2. power-phases; the more phases means more clean& consistent power to the GPU for better stability esp. if OC is your thing
    3. do your home-work on reviews of all models within your budget, both pro and customer; tom's, guru3d etc. and Newegg for customer/buyer inputs
    4. avoid brand loyalism/fanboyism to a particular brand and/or company; go with what is best rated for your dollar(s)
    5. be sure to check what kind of warranty policy is offered by the manufacturer prior to purchase
    6. be sure to read the RMA/return/refund policy of the vendor you purchase from prior to purchase, should issues arise

    This is not all inclusive but should help point you in a somewhat good direction.
  • FormatC
    1306537 said:
    ...2. power-phases; the more phases means more clean& consistent power to the GPU for better stability esp. if OC is your thing..

    This is mostly marketing and a lie (we have 19 phases - Zotac). The currect IC's doesnt't allow more than 6 or 8 separate controlled phases. The vendors are using very often the so-called phase doubling to split the current (and as follow) the heat. A card with 12 CPU "phases" owns in real only 6 phases, but each of them is splitted into 2 ciruits. I can use a 1080 Ti reference board to supply over 500 Watts without any problems. There are "only" 7 real phases and one of these is also working as load balancer between PCIe connector and mainboard. All this "better OC stability" due more phases is an urban legend and pure marketing, nothing else ;)
  • Ali_245
    hi any one got inno3d 1080 ti i chill x4 manufacturer?