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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