MSI RTX 3080 Ti Suprim X 12G Review | IGN

With Founders Editions out the door, it’s time to start exploring aftermarket versions of the RTX 3080 Ti and 3070 Ti graphics cards. Today, I’m looking at the MSI RTX 3080 Ti Suprim X 12G. It’s bigger, better, and brighter than the original RTX 3080 Ti but at expected pricing of $1299 to $1349, is it worth the high cost to upgrade?

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MSI RTX 3080 Ti Suprim X 12G – Design and Features

MSI’s Suprim line-up represents the company’s top of the line. From design to cooling to performance, the RTX 3080 Ti Suprim X just drips quality. On the exterior, the card is downright gigantic. At three slots wide, 13.2 inches long, and weighing in just over four pounds: GPU sag, thy name is Suprim X. Thankfully, MSI includes an adjustable GPU bracket to hold its weight and protect your PCIe slot.

The card itself is gorgeous in its aluminum and RGB backlit glory. The front shroud is trimmed in brushed metal, offset with two different shades of grey. Two RGB strips surround the middle fan to add that touch of flair if you’d like to mount it vertically. Around the back there’s a thick metal backplate to help dissipate heat, but it’s also trimmed in two different hues of gray and has a brightly backlit MSI dragon icon to catch the eye. Along the edge is another customizable RGB strip and logo. Many high-end cards seem clearly designed to to mount vertically but the Suprim X looks best in a normal horizontal mount. If RGB isn’t your thing, you can turn the lighting off and it will still look good but, in my opinion, this is one of the best-looking cards so far this generation – if you can fit it in your case. 

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Being so large does have its benefits in cooling. The Suprim X uses MSI’s TriFrozr 2S cooling system. This combines three Torx 4.0 fans with a high contact nickel baseplate for the GPU running into heatpipes through that massive heatsink, and a dedicated heatpipe and heatsink just for the VRAM. The fans feature combined blades to push more air. The fins on the heatsink have also been customized to reduce airflow noise and lower the sound profile of the card. 

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It works well, too, even in the Gaming BIOS mode. Near the three-pin power connector, MSI has added a BIOS selector switch that lets you choose between Gaming and Silent modes. Both have the same clock speed, but Gaming Mode allows the fans to ramp a little higher to keep the card cool. In this mode, the card peaked at 68C after repeat runs of Unigine Heaven and hovered closer to 65C when playing actual games. This was also in a hot 26C office, so I would expect the card to run cooler in an air conditioned setting. In Silent Mode, this ramped to 72C but I honestly didn’t find it necessary. The cooling system is performant enough that it never needed to ramp the fans up obnoxiously high and was on par, if not a bit better, than the RTX 3080 Ti Founders Edition in acoustic performance. 

All of this plays into the high-performance design of the card. As you might guess from the ramped up cooler and extra PSU plug compared to the original, the Suprim X is all about performance. It increases the power draw from the Founders Edition a full 50 watts, bringing it to 400 watts total. The added power in combination with high quality components for delivery and regulation make this an exceptionally good choice for gamers looking to overclock and squeeze some added performance out of their card. It has thermal and electrical headroom to spare. 

Of course, you’d expect a card of this caliber to come with its own factory overclock and it certainly does. The original RTX 3080 Ti features a rated Boost Clock of 1665 MHz. The Suprim X turns the dial all the way up to 1845 MHz in Extreme Mode (enabled in the Dragon Center software). Nvidia’s GPU Boost technology automatically pushes cards beyond this under load, assuming it’s not burning up or starved for power, but even here the Suprim X outperformed the original. The Founders Edition peaked at 1935 MHz and hovered closer to 1880 MHz in games. This card, on the other hand, peaked at 2025 MHz and hovered just over 1900 MHz. This means the Suprim X will more frequently pull in those extra few frames of performance without ever needing to worry about a manual overclock. 

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For a full breakdown of the RTX 3080 Ti, read the original review here. The core specs are the same, including 10,240 CUDA cores, 12GB of GDDR6X video memory, and the core architecture of Nvidia’s ampere GPU. Also carried over are the three DisplayPort 1.4 outputs and single HDMI 2.0b with a maximum resolution of 8K across all four outputs. 

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MSI RTX 3080 Ti Suprim X 12G – Performance

Test system: Z390 Asus ROG Maximus XI Extreme Motherboard, Intel Core i9-9900K CPU (stock), Corsair H115i PRO RGB 280mm AIO CPU Cooler, 32GB Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro DDR4-3200, 1TB Samsung EVO Plus NVMe SSD, Corsair HX1200 1200-watt power supply.

What really matters most is how a GPU performs, so let’s take a closer look. We test our GPUs using a mix of synthetic and real-world gaming benchmarks. All games are set to Ultra settings unless otherwise noted. To get an eye on how this card performs the Founders Edition original, I limited the scope of testing to focus just on the most relevant cards. 

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Beginning with synthetic benchmarks, the MSI RTX 3080 Ti Suprim X 12G performed admirably. In 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra, it managed to beat the RTX 3090 by a significant margin. The 3090 maintained its lead in Unigine Heaven but only by a hair. 

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Turning to ray tracing specific tests, the Suprim X just dominates. The results in the FPS tests are close between both RTX 3080 Tis and the 3090 but the MSI lands on top. In 3DMark Port Royal, it again bests the RTX 3090.

Let’s see how it performs in games. 

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Starting off, we have our usual selection of five core games at all three major resolutions. Here the card averaged 4% faster than the Founders Edition at 4K, 3% faster at 1440p and was less than 1% off at 1080p. Compared against the RTX 3090, it was within 1% in average FPS at 4K but 2% slower at 1440p and 1080p. When put against AMD’s RX 6800 XT (reviewed here) which has an MSRP of roughly half that of this model, the Suprim X was 36% faster at 4K, 19% faster at 1440p and 10% faster at 1080p. With Metro Exodus and the inflation of DLSS removed, those averages drop to 17%, 9%, and 1% respectively.

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With only five titles, you can only glean so much, so I put each card through an expanded series of 4K testing across 10 games. Since the 3080 Ti is very much a “4K Gaming Card,” this is an apt area to dive further in. Here, the card averaged 1% faster than the RTX 3090, 4% faster than the RTX 3080 Ti Founders Edition, 16% faster than the standard RTX 3080, and 19% faster than the RX 6800 XT in rasterization titles.

This is definitely an improvement from the Founders Edition. While it beating the RTX 3090 is impressive, it’s not surprising given how close the FE was to that mark anyway. Does that make it a better buy? If you’re looking at sheer FPS and overclocking potential, it is a better choice than the RTX 3080 Ti Founders Edition. Consider, however, that pricing at $1,299 – $1,349 would position it closer than ever to the RTX 3090’s $1,499 – which has double the VRAM for content creators. Both cards are incredibly expensive, halo products if ever there were any, but in that light paying extra for the added VRAM seems to be the smarter buy, especially to future-proof against the memory-hungry games sure to release over the next several years. 

That makes this a rather confusing card to position. Like I opined in my original review, most gamers would absolutely be better served picking up an RTX 3080 as soon as they can find one at MSRP. Yet, if you have your heart set on a 3080 Ti, there is no mistaking that this is an excellent choice that is clearly ready to be pushed further with a custom overclock. It’s just a shame that pricing is so high because while this card may just be the best “gaming” card on the market right now, it’s so cost-prohibitive that it’s hard to recommend to anyone other than high-level enthusiasts. That said, price to performance value has always gone out the window when it comes to the upper echelons of graphics cards, so those looking for the best of the best typically are prepared to pay for it.

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