MSI SUPRIM RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 Review
A Pair Of Massive, Overbuilt, Air-Cooled Monsters
Anyone who has experienced one of MSI’s massive flagship GPUs in the past – and I’m thinking in particular of the R9 290X Lightning I once owned (and showcased in builds like this) – will understand where the SUPRIM fits in the stable of RTX 30 Series graphics cards. The MSI GeForce RTX 3080 SUPRIM 10G and RTX 3090 SUPRIM 24G (pronounced supreme, by the way) are both overbuilt, oversized monsters with three 8-pin power connectors and a total weight of over 4 lbs each.
The RTX 3090 SUPRIM also marks the first time that highest of consumer GPUs from NVIDIA passes through our doors, and MSI’s highest-end version offers some pretty substantial Boost clocks out of the box – perhaps helping to justify the triple 8-pin requirement. And both cards offer dual VBIOS, with a switch between “Silent” and “Gaming” modes to favor low noise or higher clocks, and even higher clocks can be unlocked using MSI’s Dragon Center software.
RTX 3080 SUPRIM
- Model Name GeForce RTX 3080 SUPRIM 10G
- Graphics Processing Unit NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080
- Interface PCI Express Gen 4
- Cores: 8704 Units
- Core Clocks
- Extreme Performance: 1830 MHz (Dragon Center)
- Boost: 1815 MHz (GAMING & SILENT Mode)
- Memory Speed: 19 Gbps
- Memory: 10GB GDDR6X
- Memory Bus: 320-bit
- Output: DisplayPort x 3 (v1.4a) / HDMI 2.1 x 1
- Power Consumption: 370W
- Power Connectors: 8-pin x 3
- Recommended PSU: 850W
- Card Dimensions: 336 x 140 x 61 mm
- Weight (Card / Package): 1882g / 3178g
RTX 3090 SUPRIM
- Model Name: GeForce RTX 3090 SUPRIM X 24G
- Graphics Processing Unit: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090
- Interface: PCI Express Gen 4
- Cores: 10496 Units
- Core Clocks:
- Extreme Performance: 1875 MHz (Dragon Center)
- Boost: 1860 MHz (GAMING & SILENT Mode)
- Memory Speed: 19.5 Gbps
- Memory: 24GB GDDR6X
- Memory Bus: 384-bit
- Output: DisplayPort x 3 (v1.4a) / HDMI 2.1 x 1
- Power Consumption 420W
- Power Connectors 8-pin x 3
- Recommended PSU: 850 W
- Card Dimensions: 336 x 140 x 61 mm
- Weight (Card / Package): 1895g / 3197g
“While striving for the SUperior gaming experience, our PRofound journey across decades took us to destinations previously thought IMpossible. Across years of high-performance circuit design, MSI is proud to bring its latest masterpiece to life. SUPRIM is the next leap in graphic cards design.”
The MSI SUPRIM Design
Both the RTX 3090 and RTX 3080 variant of the MSI SUPRIM look identical, right down to the triple 8-pin PCIe connectors. These are very large graphics cards; the RTX 3090 SUPRIM weighs 1895 grams / 66.84 oz / 4.18 lbs (the 3080 SUPRIM is a few grams lighter at 1882 g), with dimensions of 336 x 140 x 61 mm / 13.23 x 5.51 x 2.40 inches.
At its foundation, the circuit board continues MSI’s legacy of high-performance design with hardened circuits, premium components, and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 30 Series graphics processor that powers immersive gaming adventures and demanding content creation. The TRI FROZR 2S cooling system keeps temperatures in check to allow the graphics card to sustain tremendous performance. An extensive assembly of TORX FAN 4.0, Airflow Control fins, Core Pipes, and a base plate efficiently absorb and dissipate heat from critical components. The combination of TRI FROZR 2S’s high thermal transfer efficiency and silent optimizations in the fans and heatsink fins allow SUPRIM to be very quiet, if not silent, during operation.
Looking to the exterior, SUPRIM is clad in a modern aesthetic that reflects a high-performance lifestyle. Polished aluminum on the cooler enclosure and backplate impart a rigid menacing look and feel. Flowing RGB lighting can be customized with Dragon Center and Mystic Light to erupt in millions of colors and several dynamic effects.
Get more than just a graphics card with a bundled mousepad and support stand for additional reinforcement. Take the experience further with the Dragon Center software suite, with utilities such as Frozr AI Cooling that unifies system fans connected to a compatible MSI motherboard to react to changes in GPU thermal output.
There’s plenty of RGB lighting on board MSI’s TRI FROZR 2S cooler if you like that sort of thing, and a Silent/Gaming BIOS switch is offered – positioned above the PCI Express power connectors. The rear of the card is fully covered by a brushed aluminum backplate (with more RGB lighting via the MSI shield), and the overall package is quite impressive – both physically and aesthetically.
Looking at these photos, I have to say the cards don’t photograph as large as they look in person, probably given the balanced proportions they exhibit – but they aren’t so large that they don’t fit in a mid-tower case (installation into a Corsair 4000D Airflow was not a problem).
Given the price tag associated with flagship products like the SUPRIM, one might expect a more deluxe overall package than usual. One would be correct. The retail boxes are ornate, the innards contain more than the usual level of thick foam padding, and owners get a SUPRIM branded mousepad and a hefty steel bracket for supporting their massive new GPU in style.
The bracket – which arrives in three pieces consisting of a rubber-bottomed foot, rubber topped GPU support, and a steel rod – is quite nice, and seems very strong. The use of rubber where it will contact both card and case keeps it from moving around, and it’s very easy to adjust to the desired height.
This is, overall, a very impressive package. You won’t feel slighted – though at current prices ($1199 for the RTX 3080 SUPRIM and $2299 for the RTX 3090 SUPRIM at Newegg – both out of stock right now) this is obviously not the best time to buy. If you even could buy, I mean.
Placing the BIOS switch into the full performance “Gaming” mode, here’s a look at GPU-Z from both cards.
Left: MSI GeForce RTX 3080 SUPRIM 10G | Right: MSI GeForce RTX 3090 SUPRIM 24G
The Boost clock for the RTX 3080 SUPRIM reads 1905 MHz (stock is 1710 MHz), and the Boost clock for the RTX 3090 SUPRIM reads 1860 MHz (stock is 1700 MHz). These are some pretty heavy factory overclocks, though power and thermals affect final Boost frequencies.
Testing a handful of games – and bearing in mind that we never had a Founders Edition version of the RTX 3090 to compare against – here are some findings from ye olde GPU testbed.
|PC Perspective GPU Test Platforms|
|Processor||AMD Ryzen 9 3900X (1800MHz FCLK)|
|Motherboard||ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII HERO WIFI|
|Memory||HyperX Predator DDR4-3600 CL16 32GB
G.Skill Flare X DDR4-3600 CL16 16GB
|Storage||Samsung 850 EVO 1TB SSD|
|Power Supply||CORSAIR RM1000x 1000W|
|Operating System||Windows 10 64-bit (Version 1909)|
|Drivers||GeForce Game Ready Driver 452.06/456.16/456.96/461.09
Radeon Software Adrenalin 2020 Edition 20.8.3
Radeon Software Adrenalin 20.45.01.12-11.6 Beta (RX6K)
While a couple of game results follow, a look at the GPU score from Time Spy Extreme (the 4K version of the 3DMark Time Spy benchmark) says it all:
Out of the box, and with the BIOS switch in the “Gaming” position for full performance, the RTX 3080 SUPRIM is about 2.6 % faster than the RTX 3080 Founders Edition – the latter of which was re-tested for this review on current drivers (the launch review has higher results from the high clocks that were toned down after release). The RTX 3090 SUPRIM is 18.4 % faster than the RTX 3080 FE.
Moving on to a couple of examples of traditional 3D gaming benchmarks, we begin with Metro Exodus. This game was run using the “High” preset at 3840 x 2160 resolution (like all the benchmarks in this review).
Here we see a more “real-world” example of the scaling we noted from the Time Spy Extreme benchmark. Out of the box the SUPRIM version of the RTX 3080 hits 76.91 FPS, which is 1.91 FPS faster than the Founders Edition card (a 2.6 % increase), while the RTX 3090 SUPRIM is way out ahead at 88.26 FPS.
Next we have the AMD-friendly DiRT 5 benchmark, though re-testing on current drivers places the RTX cards in a better position than we saw with the RX 6800 Series launch:
The RTX 3080 FE top the RX 6800 XT this time around in the 4K result, and we’d probably see better results from the RTX 3070 and 3060 Ti as well had those also been re-tested for this review. Back on topic, however, as we look at the top two places on the chart. The SUPRIM cards offer scaling similar to the Metro Exodus result.
RTX and DLSS Performance
Love it or hate it, real-time ray tracing is what the RTX series is all about. Not everyone appreciates NVIDIA’s position on this, but if you’re specifically looking for an NVIDIA RTX 3080 or 3090 – and considering one with the price tag of MSI’s flagship version, in particular – you’re probably going to enable the feature. To this end we ran just a couple of quick benchmarks to see if these cards scale any differently with RTX on.
We will look at some numbers from Wolfenstein Youngblood first, run at 3840×2160 with the highest detail preset and DLSS set to “Quality”. It’s worth noting that I couldn’t detect any visual improvement over “Balanced” in this title, but we went with the more demanding preset anyhow.
The lead over the Founders Edition is just under 2 FPS for the RTX 3080 SUPRIM here, while the powerful RTX 3090 SUPRIM provides a big 20 FPS jump and an impressive 144 FPS average here. I would prefer to have a 3090 FE on this chart as well, but we can’t have everything in this life.
Wolf Youngblood is not the heaviest user of RTX horsepower, so for the next test I really wanted to see if the higher clocks, massive cooling system, and power delivery of these SUPRIM cards could provide an appreciable difference in a benchmark like Bright Memory Infinite (my favorite RTX / DLSS test). At 2560×1440, RTX settings all the way up, and DLSS set to “Quality”, here’s how the SUPRIM cards stack up:
Well, an advantage of just under 1 FPS isn’t all that exciting when comparing the RTX 3080 SUPRIM to the Founders Edition. On the other hand the RTX 3090 SUPRIM is a full 10 FPS ahead in this demanding benchmark. Obviously, if these cards were available the RTX 3090 would be the real-time ray tracing GPU to pick up – if cost was no object, of course.
Was that third 8-pin power connector just for show?? Well, have a look at this:
For the modest gains we saw, the power draw from the RTX 3080 SUPRIM seems quite high – though running an overbuilt card like this in a “stock” performance state isn’t really taking full advantage of the hardware. That said, we saw peaks of around 325 W with the RTX 3080 FE, and these were surpassed by a wide margin by the RTX 3080 SUPRIM’s 375 W. And while ~460 W from the RTX 3090 SUPRIM is staggering, we have no other RTX 3090 to compare it to.
MSI’s overview does a better job of detailing the various design choices than I can hope to replicate here, so I’ll just say that MSI obviously built these cards to take high overclocks, as decisions about the power delivery and cooling system also point to sustaining high OC and overall card longevity. Testing those areas, unfortunately, is beyond the scope of this review. I guess if I’m still using one of these months down the road, and overclocking the snot out of it 24/7, I can report back.
The power limits for these cards are visible in the screenshot below, with the RTX 3080 SUPRIM configurable all the way up to 116%, while the RTX 3090 SUPRIM goes up to 107%:
Left: MSI GeForce RTX 3080 SUPRIM 10G | Right: MSI GeForce RTX 3090 SUPRIM 24G
As to temps and noise levels, both SUPRIM cards kept their GPUs quite cool, and even at the “Gaming” setting the fans are not loud at all. Load temps with the RTX 3080 SUPRIM hit just 67 C in a ~21 C room, while the RTX 3090 SUPRIM hit 70 C under the same conditions.
I have to shift things back to a noise-controlled environment to get accurate SPL readings, but we are talking about another extremely quiet MSI cooler here. There will be no complaints about noise. Another zero-RPM idle profile, the fans on the RTX 3090 reached only 1800 RPM under load. I can at least offer that both SUPRIM cards produced noticeably less noise than the RTX 3080 FE in the same test conditions.
So far 2021 hasn’t been any easier on enthusiasts with regard to product availability compared to last year, and the RTX 30 Series continues to be elusive at e-tail (I guess you just have to live near a Microcenter). Pricing, when cards are available online at all, continues to be well over MSRP. I can only speculate as to what the street price of cards like these SUPRIM offerings from MSI might be in a few months, and right now they are quite inflated at $1199.99 for the RTX 3080 SUPRIM and a whopping $2299.99 for the RTX 3090 SUPRIM in Newegg listings.
I haven’t been enthusiastic about reviewing any GPU lately – and it’s 100% due to this availability and pricing problem. I think we’re all tired of the situation by now, and it isn’t getting any better with a certain digital currency spiking to lofty heights recently.
But MSI sent these cards over for us to review, and that’s what I’m going to do. Even if any interaction with this article ends up being the usual complaints about availability and pricing.
Here’s the thing – it’s very hard to judge a product like this when I don’t know when or if anyone could ever buy it, and at what price. Even if everything was available at list price, at $899 the RTX 3080 SUPRIM would be at the very high end of the market, matching an FTW3 Hybrid (or XC3 Hydro) card from EVGA. MSI has done a nice job of creating a big, quiet version of the GeForce RTX 3080 with the SUPRIM, to be sure, but the overbuilt nature and massive power delivery seem to cater more to the serious overclocker than the typical enthusiast gamer.
As to the RTX 3090 SUPRIM, it’s my first experience with any RTX 3090 and it’s an absolute beast of a GPU. I’ll pause here to get this out of my system. Everything about the RTX 3090 is insane to me. 10496 (!) CUDA Cores and 24 GB of memory?? Oh, and not “merely” GDDR6, but 384-bit ultra-fast 19.5 Gbps GDDR6X? This is truly an insane product in the best possible way.
For a high-end, air-cooled NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 I feel like the SUPRIM brand is a perfect compliment. Sure it’s expensive, overbuilt, massive; but it’s fun for that person who doesn’t care about the price tag. I mean, an RTX 3070 is a far better price/performance offering, but the RTX 3090 is the fastest card. It’s like the world of performance automobiles. The fastest cars cost more, too. A lot more.
Without another RTX 3090 to compare against it, it’s hard to say that the SUPRIM is the card to get over some other high-end variant, but I can at least say that this version is surprisingly cool and quiet – if you have the space for it in your enclosure. And I quite like the RGB effects with these cards as well – though that is a matter of opinion and plenty of people don’t care for ostentatious ARGB lighting.
Bottom line, MSI has designed a pair of very high-end, air-cooled cards that feel every bit as good as they look and perform better than a stock GPU out of the box. They do consume quite a bit of power, require three 8-pin power connectors, and probably aren’t for everyone due to the price, those power requirements, and their rather immense size. But this is a weird time to be an enthusiast.
If you like what you see here, and can find one of these in stock, I can’t imagine you’d be disappointed with the purchase – but you probably won’t be paying anywhere near list price, either.
This disclosure statement covers the way the product being reviewed was obtained and the relationship between the product's manufacturer and PC Perspective.
How Product Was Obtained
The graphics cards are on loan from MSI for the purpose of this review.
What Happens To Product After Review
The graphics cards remains the property of MSI but will be on extended loan to PC Perspective for the purpose of future testing and product comparisons.
MSI provided the product samples and technical brief to PC Perspective but had no control over the content of the review and was not consulted prior to publication.
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Neither PC Perspective nor any of its staff were paid or compensated in any way by MSI for this review.
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