It’s big. Very big. RTX 4090 Big. But it’s an RTX 4080.
MSI has been offering SUPRIM X (pronounced supreme X) versions of RTX graphics cards since the 30 Series, and we looked at the SUPRIM X RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 back in January of 2021. As I said then, the cards in this series are massive, overbuilt, air-cooled monsters. In the best possible way, of course.
This RTX 4080 SUPRIM X is indeed massive, and since the cooler would have no trouble taming an RTX 4090 (I’m assuming, anyhow), it’s going to be overkill for the smaller RTX 4080 GPU. I mean, you can use a triple-slot cooler that’s as big as a shoe box for a 320W GPU, but you don’t have to.
MSI’s RTX 4080 SUPRIM X (bottom) is thicker than the RTX 3090 SUPRIM X (top)
So, aside from a huge cooler that suggests very cool and quiet operation, what does this high-end MSI RTX 4080 offer? Boost frequency is 2625 MHz in both the “gaming” and “silent” BIOS modes, which is a 120 MHz increase of the stock 2505 MHz Boost clock of the RTX 4080. The rest of the specs, including memory (22.4 Gbps) and power (320W) are stock.
Since we recently reviewed the NVIDIA Founders Edition of the GeForce RTX 4080, we will run a few of the same tests to see how this massive AIB design’s performance compares to NVIDIA’s signature model.
The MSI SUPRIM X Card
Truly, this design is overkill for AD103.
I checked MSI’s specs for the RTX 4090 SUPRIM X, and that card is listed as 336 x 142 x 78 mm in size, with a weight of 2413 grams. This RTX 4080 SUPRIM X measures an identical 336 x 142 x 78 mm, but is 49 grams lighter at 2364 g. So, in case you were curious, as with the RTX 30 Series models these two SUPRIM X cards have identical coolers.
Of course the 12VHPWR connector is used here, and the card ships with a 3x 8-pin PCIe adapter. I was hoping that the card used the same triple 8-pin connectors of the RTX 3090 SUPRIM X, and it’s the first thing I checked when I unboxed it. It was never going to happen, but it’s fun to dream.
Next to the power input is the BIOS switch, which offers “SILENT” and “GAMING” positions. In my testing the “GAMING” position does offer marginally better performance, but they are extremely close, and both positions have a very conservative fan profile. I set this to the “GAMING” postion for all testing, even though I photographed it in the “SILENT” position.
The card also features ARGB lighting, of course, and this is fully customizable using the MSI Center software. But options within the application are not limited to aesthetics, as performance can also be enhanced a bit (including an “Extreme Performance” mode that adds 15 MHz to the factory OC).
Stock Performance Benchmarks
Let’s look at stock performance. I tested in the “gaming” BIOS position, but after spot-checking some results in the “silent” position I noticed no change in performance or clock speeds. Which makes sense, considering both modes are listed as offering the same 2625 MHz Boost clock.
If you need full specs for the RTX 4080, check out the table from our RTX 4080 Founders Edition review. As mentioned, just the default boost clock is higher with the RTX 4080 SUPRIM X. But does it make a difference, considering the Founders Edition card already boosts well past official numbers in a typical benchmark?
|PC Perspective GPU Test Platform|
|Processor||AMD Ryzen 9 7950X (Stock)|
|Motherboard||MSI MEG X670E ACE
BIOS v1.25 Beta
AGESA ComboPI 184.108.40.206 Patch A
Resizable BAR Enabled
|Memory||32GB (16GBx2) G.Skill Trident Z NEO DDR5-6000 CL30|
|Storage||SK Hynix Platinum P41 2TB NVMe SSD|
|Power Supply||be quiet! Dark Power Pro 12 1500W|
|Operating System||Windows 11 Pro, 21H2|
|Drivers||GeForce Game Ready Driver 526.72 – 526.98|
On to the benchmark results. Prepare yourself.
This might shock you, but the GeForce RTX 4080 SUPRIM X performs just like … an RTX 4080. Well, the Founders Edition, anyhow. Ultimately, while there were small differences between the cards, depending on the test, the results are close enough to call it a tie.
Anyway, enjoy more extremely similar results:
I think one thing is obvious from this initial look at performance: the Founders Edition, which is using NVIDIA RTX 4090 cooler, is already such massive overkill for this GPU that clocks are not thermally limited. Boost frequencies hit over 2800 MHz from the Founders, so even this giant SUPRIM X design (which is also using a 4090 cooler) is unable to top it.
Speaking of frequencies, here’s a look at what was happening during ten consecutives runs of the Metro Exodus benchmark (using DX12, 3440×1440, extreme preset):
Clocks hit 2820 MHz – even briefly touching 2835 MHz – while total board power did not exceed 316 watts. Say what you will about the RTX 4080, it consumes slightly less power than an RTX 3080, while performing considerably better than an RTX 3090.
In the benchmark charts above I think we are simply seeing the limits of what the 4080 can do without manual overclocking, with a slight edge going to the SUPRIM X in a purely out-of-box state. I’m sure that the excellent showing from the Founders Edition isn’t making partners especially excited. But we have a really big, overbuilt card here, so what about pushing things further?
A word of caution: I am not der8auer. I only know basic overclocking, and use a process that anyone can replicate after installing MSI Afterburner. First, I gave myself some headroom by increasing the power limit, and then (here is where I should say “I incrementally increased clocks until encountering instability”) I pumped up frequency and voltage to try getting 3 GHz stable, without working up to that point the right way.
I was a little surprised to see that voltage could be increased, with up to +100 mV available. This, along with a power limit of up to 125%, could theoretically allow for some meaningful gains. I guess.
My goal was simple: hit 3 GHz (benchmark stable) on the core. To this end I went up to the max 125% power limit, set the core to +175, and then started increasing voltage to find stability, since it seemed to need it. Or maybe I was working backwards. Or maybe I just don’t know what I’m doing. Anyhow, even with 125% power and +50 voltage, temps were well controlled by the giant cooler even with the very conservative fan curve in place from both BIOS positions. However, I did run into instability.
Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition would complete a run (3440×1440 / Extreme Preset), but then Cyberpunk 2077 crashed shortly after the benchmark launched. I could also get 3DMark Speed Way to complete, but 3DMark Port Royal crashed with an error. Attempting to add voltage, culminating in a setting of +70 (I didn’t go higher), still would not provide stability. (Maybe I should be undervolting?) I gave up on the 3 GHz target, lowering things slightly to +150 core, +25 voltage, and things worked.
Ultimately, a less aggressive overclock was perfectly stable, but I am not experienced enough to know how to best approach overclocking these 40 Series GPUs. It was pretty fascinating to see, in person, just how much of a power penalty was incurred when increasing the voltage. By default this is, like the Founders Edition, a 320 W TBP card. Increasing power to 125% and voltage to +50, however, saw board power rise to 374.4 W, with 300.4 W chip power during a successful 3DMark Speed Way run.
I am curious to see how more competent people than myself fare in overclocking the RTX 4080, and for an air-cooled design there is a lot of thermal headroom available from the SUPRIM X design – not to mention power and voltage. I’m just the wrong person to test this. On the plus side, even when overclocked I saw a modest 65.6 C core, 77.9 C hot spot (in a cool 17 C room) with the default profile (max 50% fans under load). It’s a really big cooler, and if you crank up the fans there is more thermal headroom than you are ever likely to need.
One more thing: as I briefly mentioned above, MSI offers an “Extreme Performance” mode via their MSI Center software, which takes Boost up to 2640 MHz (an extra 15 MHz). Considering the very modest improvement I achieved from manual overclocking, the “Extreme Performance” mode would have a minimal impact on performance, but if you MSI Center installed anyway it can’t hurt.
Pricing and Conclusion
And now, unfortunately, we must talk about pricing. The MSI GeForce RTX 4080 SUPRIM X has a list price of $1379.99 USD. This is a 15% increase over the Founders Edition’s $1199 USD list, which was already a 70% increase over the RTX 3080. Without belaboring the point, any enthusiasm for this launch has been tempered by the high cost, and premiums above this – while part of the AIB business model and necessary to make a profitable card – will not be well received.
I will note that when comparing price and performance to a Founders Edition card, I am illustrating a problem that MSI – and all other partners – have. NVIDIA offers their own card, offers the best performance without overclocking, and sets it to the lowest price. Now, FE cards seem to be somewhat rare in the wild, so for someone actually trying to buy an RTX 4080 their existence is something of a distraction, but it is still hard to justify paying more for the same performance.
MSI created a very impressive design to tame the high power draw of these new GPUs, and used it on both the RTX 4090 and RTX 4080 SUPRIM X. It turns out that, at 320W (which may or may not have been lowered from 420W fairly late in the game), the design seems unnecessary for the AD103 GPU – but does add to the cost. Personally, I would hold out and get the RTX 4090 version, which seems like a better fit for a premium design like the SUPRIM X.
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How Product Was Obtained
The product is on loan from MSI for the purpose of this review.
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