Gaming Royalty doesn’t come cheap – in fact this is the most expensive card we’ve ever tested with a street price of $1179 AUD. The performance was great, the card was damn near silent and the build quality excellent but it’s really hard to say that any GTX 1080 is really ‘worth’ the street price. The thing is that these are selling at the street price so people are buying them but the frames per second of the legacy titles we tested don’t justify the price gap from the GTX 980. DX 12 and newer titles might support the price difference over the next few months as more DX12 games are released, as may new VR titles but it really is too early to tell.
We have seen forum discussions and had the same chat ourselves about how you could probably buy 2 lesser GPUs for a cheaper price and get similar or even better performance to a GTX 1080. This may be true in some situations but running multi-GPU setups doesn’t always work out how you might expect. Not all games play nice with SLI or Crossfire, there is additional heat, noise and power draw to deal with as well. Personally, I have an older rig running with SLI GTX 670 cards and I would avoid multi GPU despite having only a few minor SLI profile issues in the past.
Testing this card was a pleasure – no doubt about it. We re-played games with everything set to the maximum settings and genuinely felt that it was a card that generally offered compromise-free gaming at our preferred resolution of 2560×1440. Whilst we really wanted to test this with 4K resolution, we couldn’t line up a display but we will be looking to release a separate article in the near future.
The acoustic and thermal performance of the MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X should be applauded. A loud graphics card is a distraction no matter how many frames per second it’s smashing out – MSI has given us the best of both worlds with outstanding performance at a whisper. The Twin Frozr VI cooler continues the tradition of constant improvement from MSI that we first noted when reviewing the Twin Frozr IV cooler on the GTX 760 HAWK. It was surreal to observe the test bench components in the Fractal Design Define R5 case running The Division at 1440p on the Ultra pre-set with basically no system noise from the actual PC.
Whist the aesthetic of black and red really works with the ‘MSI Gaming’ series branding, the RGB LED logo is difficult to use in any other colours than red or white so as not to clash with the red coloured shroud or red LEDs around the right fan. It’s no big deal and it looked right at home on the MSI X99S Gaming 7 test bench. It will be interesting to see how RGB LEDs impact on future designs of the Gaming series cards and if MSI release a more colour-agnostic series of graphics card in the future. The new metallic finish on the red part of the cooler shroud is a nice change and the overall appearance of the MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X is impressive.
We thought MSI really missed an opportunity for awesomeness by omitting a back plate on their GTX 980 Gaming 4G and we were very pleased to see the back plate included on this product. It looks great, protects the card and helps with heat management.
The elephant in the room is price – there is no such thing as a ‘Cheap GTX 1080’. The price isn’t a negative for the MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X, in fact the street price of $1179 is very competitive, relatively speaking. This is an enthusiast level card that a small percentage of gamers will buy and a large percentage of gamers will only have as a ‘wish list’ item.
The NVIDIA GTX 1080 is a beast of a GPU and MSI has really done it justice with a premium custom PCB, cooler, components and software tuning application. The MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X is a great package for the enthusiast PC gamer. We absolutely loved it.
If you’re going to buy a GTX 1080, this one will not disappoint.
|MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X|
8GB of GDDR5X
Extremely Quiet to the point of silence in the right case
Outstanding build quality
Practical, stable and intuitive Gaming App utility
|Expensive (but in line with other GTX 1080 cards)|