Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1080 Ti is the second-fastest single-GPU graphics card you can buy, and only because there's a $1200 Titan Xp offering questionable value out there, too. MSI's implementation of the 1080 Ti comes close to perfection by offering improved performance and quiet operation. The GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Gaming X 11G's factory settings nearly achieve an ideal compromise for most customers. But it also boasts some thermal and electrical reserves that allow enthusiasts to explore the card's peak potential (at the expense of some of its finesse).
Our sample was able to maintain 2050 MHz. Of course, that required adjusting MSI's fan curve, causing the card to get noticeably louder. Our journey above 2 GHz was helped by the option to go from a ~290W power target up to 330W using MSI's software. That's plenty of headroom to experiment with. From there, you'll find cooling and cooling alone determines where GPU Boost steps in and draws the line.
The only flaw worth mentioning is the positioning of the memory's power supply, which MSI cools with a plate. The excess heat produced there does affect the three neighboring memory modules in particular. Thus, you probably don't want a case with restricted airflow since 300W of power consumption translates to a lot of extra heat that needs to be exhausted.
With that said, aggressive overclocking with a higher power target calls for a case armed with high-quality fans. A full-tower enclosure might help as well. And it goes without saying that this isn't a card you want to wedge into a small form factor chassis. MSI's GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Gaming X 11G wants to breathe plenty of fresh air.
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