MSI released its new GeForce RTX 3080 SUPRIM X 12G LHR weeks ago now, but I'm only getting around to finishing my review on it now after some weeks of family disaster where my mother barely made it out alive. Well, she's doing better... and my hands can now be tapping away on my keyboard and I can get this review done.
The new MSI GeForce RTX 3080 SUPRIM X 12G LHR isn't new if you've been keeping up with the GPU scene, as it fills the slot between the GeForce RTX 3080 (with 10GB of GDDR6X) and the GeForce RTX 3080 Ti (with 12GB of GDDR6X). So in reality, the new GeForce RTX 3080 12GB is just... a GeForce RTX 3080 with 12GB of GDDR6X instead of 10GB of GDDR6X... right?
Well, mostly... but there are a few other surprises.
The newer GeForce RTX 3080 12GB is actually keeping up with the higher-end GeForce RTX 3080 Ti, but it's also priced at the same level -- so there's a trade-off -- but not much at all.
NVIDIA has the biggest upgrade with its new GeForce RTX 3080 12GB with its GDDR6X memory being on a wider memory bus: the original RTX 3080 launched with 10GB of GDDR6X on a 320-bit memory bus, while the new RTX 3080 12GB has 12GB of GDDR6X on a wider 384-bit memory bus. This effectively makes it near identical to the RTX 3080 Ti with 12GB GDDR6X memory.
- Read more: MSI GeForce RTX 3090 SUPRIM X Review
- Read more: MSI GeForce RTX 3080 Ti SUPRIM X Review
- Read more: MSI GeForce RTX 3080 SUPRIM X Review
But there's also more CUDA cores here inside of the GA102 GPU and RTX 3080 12GB: 8960 CUDA cores compared to the 8704 CUDA cores on the RTX 3080. So it's not just changes in VRAM amounts, memory bus, and memory bandwidth -- but CUDA core count, and higher GPU clocks -- and then MSI's tweaking on top. It's quite the package.
- Read more: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 Founders Edition Review
- Read more: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Founders Edition Review
- Read more: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition Review
- Read more: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Founders Edition Review
- Read more: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Ti Founders Edition Review
As for pricing, MSI's flagship GeForce RTX 3080 SUPRIM X 12G LHR will cost $1500-$1700 or more, depending on where you live and the retailer or e-tailer. A huge cost, but that's for you to decide if it's worth it or not, I'll help out with checking the card itself for you below.
Everything You Need to Know About Ampere
- Ampere GPU architecture: NVIDIA has so much going on under the Ampere GPU hood, with the GA102-220-A1 GPU packing a huge 28.3 billion transistors (that's 28,300,000,000) on the Samsung 8nm node. We have a huge 8960 CUDA cores on GA102, nearly double the 4608 CUDA cores on the TITAN RTX.
- RTX improvements: NVIDIA has effectively doubled everything when it comes to RTX, where it will rips and tears your games and delivers them to your eyeballs faster than ever before with Ampere. If you want to run any RTX-powered games, you'll want a new GeForce RTX 3080 12GB.
- GDDR6X memory: The new NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 12GB has 12GB of GDDR6X memory on a 384-bit memory bus, with a massive 912GB/sec of memory bandwidth. You should see the 4K gaming results for the evidence of the Ampere GPU + GDDR6X memory slaying it.
- PCIe 4.0 connectivity: NVIDIA's new GeForce RTX 30 series graphics cards are now PCIe 4.0 compatible, so if you're building a new AMD Ryzen 3000 series system with an X570 motherboard -- you will be ready to rock and roll with PCIe 4.0 connectivity.
- HDMI 2.1: 4K 120Hz + 8K 60Hz = single cable: If you are buying a new TV in the coming months or years, HDMI 2.1 is going to be something you want. It opens up the bandwidth floodgates to 4K 120Hz and 8K 60Hz over the single HDMI 2.1 cable.
- RTX IO: NVIDIA's introduction of RTX IO with Ampere is very similar to the ultra-fast game load times on the next-gen Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 consoles. You can read all about RTX IO right here, which is something we'll see build more foundation in 2021 and beyond.
RTX 3080 12GB Tech Specs
As usual, MSI puts the GeForce RTX 3080 SUPRIM X 12G LHR into some beautiful retail packaging. Inside, you get a strong support holder for your huge graphics card. This will help it from bending inside of your case over years and years... gravity, and stuff.
From the front, you wouldn't tell the difference between this -- the MSI RTX 3080 SUPRIM X 12G LHR -- and the RTX 3080 SUPRIM X 10G. It's a great-looking card, with its triple-fan TRI FROZR 2S thermal solution not just looking awesome, but kicking ass in the cooling department.
Once again from the back, with a gorgeous backplate that really looks beautiful inside of your PC with RGB lighting reflecting off of it.
It's a chunky card, but the thermal solution is worth it. I don't mind the chunkiness at the RTX 3080 12GB level, but not at the RTX 3050 level.
You're going to need 3 x 8-pin PCIe power connectors to get it up and running.
The usual display output connectivity here: 3 x DP 1.4 and 1 x HDMI 2.1 -- all capable of 4K 120FPS and beyond.
Test System Specs
Sabrent sent over their huge Rocket Q 8TB NVMe PCIe M.2 2280 SSD, which will be my new Games install SSD inside of my main test bed.
I've got a new upgrade inside of my GPU test bed before my change to a next-gen test bed, where I will be preparing for NVIDIA's next-gen Ampere graphics cards and AMD's next-gen RDNA 2 graphics cards.
Sabrent helped out with some new storage for my GPU test beds, sending over a slew of crazy-fast Rocket NVMe PCIe M.2 2280 SSDs. I've got this installed into my GPU test bed as the new Games Storage drive, since games are so damn big now. Thanks to Sabrent, I've got 2TB of super-fast M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 SSD storage now.
Anthony's GPU Test System Specifications
I've recently upgraded my GPU test bed -- at least for now, until AMD's new Ryzen 9 5950X processor is unleashed then the final update for 2020 will happen and we'll be all good for RDNA 2 and future Ampere GPU releases. You can read my article here: TweakTown GPU Test Bed Upgrade for 2021, But Then Zen 3 Was Announced.
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 3800X (buy from Amazon)
- Motherboard: ASUS ROG X570 Crosshair VIII HERO (buy from Amazon)
- Cooler: CoolerMaster MasterLiquid ML360R RGB (buy from Amazon)
- RAM: G.SKILL Trident Z NEO RGB 32GB (4x8GB) (F4-3600C18Q-32GTZN) (buy from Amazon)
- SSD: Sabrent 2TB Rocket NVMe PCIe 4.0 M.2 2280 (buy from Amazon)
- PSU: be quiet! Dark Power Pro 11 1200W (buy from Amazon)
- Case: InWin X-Frame 2.0
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Professional x64 (buy from Amazon)
Benchmarks - Synthetic
3DMark Fire Strike
3DMark has been a staple benchmark for years now, all the way back to when The Matrix was released and Futuremark had bullet time inspired benchmarks. 3DMark is the perfect tool to see if your system - most important, your CPU and GPU - is performing as it should. You can search results for your GPU, to see if it falls in line with other systems based on similar hardware.
Heaven - 1080p
Heaven is an intensive GPU benchmark that really pushes your silicon to its limits. It's another favorite of ours as it has some great scaling for multi-GPU testing, and it's great for getting your GPU to 100% for power and noise testing.
Benchmarks - 1080p
Assassin's Creed: Valhalla is the latest game to be inserted into our benchmark suite, with Ubisoft Montreal using its AnvilNext engine to power the game. It scales really well across the cards, and has some surprising performance benefits with AMD's new Big Navi GPUs.
Middle-earth: Shadow of War is a sequel to the popular Shadow of Mordor, which was powered by the Lithtech engine. When cranked up to maximum detail, it will chew through your GPU and its VRAM like it's nothing.
Metro Exodus is one of the hardest tests that our graphics cards have to go through, with 4A Games' latest creation being one of the best looking games on the market. It is a serious test that pushes GPUs to their limits, and also features RTX technologies like DLSS.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider is one of the latest games to join our graphics card benchmark lineup, with the game built using the Foundation engine as a base, the same engine in Rise of the Tomb Raider. Eidos Montreal R&D department made lots of changes to the engine during the development of Shadow of the Tomb Raider to make it one of the best-looking games out right now.
1080p Benchmark Performance Thoughts
1080p performance is freaking awesome... 120-165FPS gaming becomes no issue, or even 240FPS+ depending on the game. If you're using esports-focused titles like Overwatch, League of Legends, CS:GO, Rocket League, and many others then 1080p 240FPS is easy for the MSI RTX 3080 SUPRIM X 12G.
Benchmarks - 1440p
1440p Benchmark Performance Thoughts
Gaming at 2560 x 1440 is another non-issue for the GeForce RTX 3080 12GB, with MSI offering performance that equals the higher-end GeForce RTX 3080 Ti, and even the flagship GeForce RTX 3090. AMD who, really... until the Radeon "Super" GPU refresh coming soon.
Benchmarks - 4K
4K Benchmark Performance Thoughts
4K gaming is where the GeForce RTX 3080, GeForce RTX 3080 Ti, and GeForce RTX 3090 dominated -- but the RTX 3080 suffered from its 10GB of VRAM -- but with 12GB of VRAM the new RTX 3080 SUPRIM X 12G slices through 4K gaming with performance that beats the RTX 3080 10GB.
MSI's custom GeForce RTX 3080 SUPRIM X 12G LHR pretty much ties the GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Founders Edition at 4K gaming, and with some overclocking (which there's some decent headroom on both the GPU and GDDR6X) it'll not only beat the RTX 3080 Ti, but the RTX 3090.
Power Consumption & Temps
During a few days of gaming and benchmarking away, the MSI GeForce RTX 3080 SUPRIM X 12G LHR stands up damn well -- the GPU itself runs at around 70C under load, with the fans spinning at ~55-60C (1850RPM or so) -- while the 12GB of GDDR6X memory was running at around 76C.
What's Hot, What's Not
- 12GB of GDDR6X memory: NVIDIA's refreshed GeForce RTX 3080 and its 12GB of GDDR6X really does help it push above the RTX 3080 10GB, offering improved 4K gaming performance. But it's not just the 12GB of GDDR6X memory on its own, but more.
- Beefed-up 384-bit memory bus: The "more" includes a wider 384-bit memory bus on the RTX 3080 12GB, up from the 320-bit memory bus on the RTX 3080 10GB. This is another building block to make the RTX 3080 12GB better than the RTX 3080 10GB.
- 912GB/sec memory bandwidth: The two above culminate in much more memory bandwidth, with up to 912GB/sec of memory bandwidth from the RTX 3080 12GB over the 760GB/sec of memory bandwidth from the RTX 3080 10GB.
- Beefy 1890MHz GPU boost out of the box: MSI offers impressive GPU boost clocks out of the box, with 1890MHz and more -- with some overclocking, you can push past 2000MHz -- but the out of the box GPU boost clocks are great.
- Competes with, and sometimes beats the RTX 3080 Ti: Yeah, it's that good -- it's expensive, but if you missed out on the RTX 3080, RTX 3080 Ti, or RTX 3090 and need to buy a card now, then you're getting a card that will actually beat all of them with the right tuning.
- Competes with, and sometimes beats the RTX 3090 (!!!): Say what?!
- Warranted performance boost over RTX 3080 10GB: NVIDIA really should've celebrated the launch of the RTX 3080 12GB with a slick new GeForce RTX 3080 12GB Founders Edition. Unfortunate, but the performance boost over the RTX 3080 is something worth talking about.
- Amazing design: I'm a big fan of the SUPRIM X aesthetic, and it only shines with the new RTX 3080 12GB SUPRIM X 12G.
- Fantastic thermal solution: MSI uses its fantastic TRI FROZR 2S thermal solution on the card, keeping GPU and GDDR6X memory temperatures in check.
- Lots of overclocking (OC) headroom: There's some OC fun to be had on this card, but not too much with it hitting the power limit pretty easily.
- No RTX 3080 12GB Founders Edition from NVIDIA: It's unfortunate, because that would've been cool... but no points off for MSI with this one.
- Will be hard to find: Not MSI's fault either.
MSI impresses greatly with its GeForce RTX 3080 SUPRIM X 12G, with its beefed-up 12GB GDDR6X on the wider 384-bit memory bus and slightly increased CUDA core count, brings it up to RTX 3080 Ti levels of performance.
I really feel like NVIDIA should've made the GeForce RTX 3080 12GB launch somewhat bigger, with its own GeForce RTX 3080 12GB Founders Edition graphics card... but that would mean they'd have to differentiate between the RTX 3080 10GB and RTX 3080 12GB and that would look weird on a backplate... I guess.
Even in stressful 1440p and 4K gaming situations, the custom MSI GeForce RTX 3080 SUPRIM X 12G actually keeps up with the GeForce RTX 3080 Ti. With some easy overclocking you can get those numbers over the RTX 3080 Ti, and that's actually pretty damn good. AMD can't really match that right now, until its purported Radeon RX 6950 XT launches... its own 'SUPER' refresh.
You can play 4K 60FPS+ games with RT + DLSS enabled on the MSI GeForce RTX 3080 SUPRIM X LHR, something you can't say for all games on the regular RTX 3080 10GB. VRAM consumption can pass 10GB with RT and DLSS enabled at 4K, so the additional 2GB (which is 20%) is really useful in many games at enthusiast levels.
MSI keeps things nice and cool with its TRI FROZR 2S cooling solution, with the GPU sitting at around 70C under load with the fans at around 55-60% (1850RPM or so). The 12GB of GDDR6X memory is running at around 76C under load, a much better result than the 100-110C+ that the 24GB GDDR6X runs at on the RTX 3090 cards.
At the end of the day, you're effectively getting a GeForce RTX 3090 with half the VRAM (12GB versus 24GB) with very similar, and sometimes (especially when the MSI RTX 3080 SUPRIM X 12G is overclocked) more performance than the RTX 3090.
Now that is a good deal, even in a crappy market where you're going to pay in excess of $1500-$1700+ for this card. MSI... I love what you've done here with the GeForce RTX 3080 SUPRIM X 12G, and I want to see more of that, hopefully soon with the Radeon "Super" GPU refresh around the corner.
The Bottom Line
MSI's custom GeForce RTX 3080 SUPRIM X 12G LHR is a force to be reckoned with, keeps up with the RTX 3080 Ti at stock, and beats both the RTX 3080 Ti + RTX 3090 with some OC. rnrnThe GA102 GPU with more CUDA cores + 12GB of VRAM + 384-bit memory bus + MSI SUPRIM X style = winning package.