The Bottom Line
- + A 4K gaming powerhouse second only to the GeForce RTX 4090
- + Stomps the competition when it comes to ray-tracing
- + The price drop makes the GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER feel like a relaunch
- + MSI's new EXPERT design is beautiful and one-of-a-kind
- + DLSS, Frame Generation, the new Ray Reconstruction, and Reflex is a brilliant combo
- - A modest boost to performance compared to the GeForce RTX 4080
- - As a flagship GPU from MSI, it commands a premium price
Should you buy it?AvoidConsiderShortlistBuy
It's not often that we get a brand-new GPU launch from MSI. Scratch that; we've seen no less than three major GeForce RTX 40 SUPER Series cards arrive in countless variants in January 2024. What we haven't seen is a new GPU design, look, or variant that could sit alongside the MSI Ventus, Gaming X, and Suprim lineup. And that's exactly what we've got here with the MSI GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER 16G EXPERT, a beautiful design that draws inspiration from NVIDIA's unique Founders Edition models with two large fans sitting on either side of the GPU working in unison.
MSI announced the new MSI GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER 16G EXPERT at CES 2024 after NVIDIA lifted the lid on the new GeForce RTX 40 SUPER Series. With the tagline 'graceful expert,' the EXPERT was presented as the new flagship from the company - arriving exclusively in GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER form. It was one of the most talked about and celebrated GPU designs at the show, representing a modern and unique look that is very different from other GPUs - even those from MSI.
After reviewing dozens of GPUs throughout 2023, seeing the MSI GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER EXPERT was enough to excite me and immediately have me try to figure out how to get my hands on one for coverage. Thankfully, MSI delivered a review unit ahead of the new GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER launch - and among the big stack of cards that arrived this month, this was the one I couldn't wait to plug in.
Sure, we'll dig into performance and what the GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER brings to the table with its new and very welcome $999 MSRP - a 16.7% reduction from the GeForce RTX 4080's price. Needless to say, it's a GPU that is second only to the GeForce RTX 4090 regarding performance. And now that it's 37.5% cheaper, it represents much better value for high-end 4K gaming. But we'll also be taking a closer look at MSI's gorgeous new EXPERT design and see how effective this design is for an OC model.
The Ada Lovelace Generation - SUPER Edition
Below is a summary of the GeForce RTX 40 Series technology, applicable to all models.
Visual fidelity and performance go hand-in-hand when it comes to PC gaming. It isn't simply a matter of a game looking good; when you're playing a PC game, it also needs to be buttery-smooth. Back in the day, this combination of performance and visuals was all about how much GPU and silicon you had under the hood. With the GeForce RTX 40 Series, including the new SUPER Series refresh, NVIDIA's Ada Lovelace generation continues and evolves the company's history of embracing AI and hardware-accelerated ray-tracing to not only push visual fidelity - but to ensure that visual fidelity and performance go hand-in-hand.
The GeForce RTX 40 Series is a lineup of GPUs built on a cutting-edge process node while leveraging and evolving all of the AI and hardware-based ray-tracing advances that NVIDIA helped become mainstream with the GeForce RTX 30 Series. Named after mathematician Ada Lovelace, considered the world's first computer programmer, the GeForce RTX 40 Series is built on TSMC 4N process technology - a giant leap forward over the Samsung 8nm process used in the GeForce RTX 30 Series Ampere generation.
From a pure numbers perspective, the full NVIDIA Ada GPU features 76.3 billion transistors, up to 18,432 CUDA Cores (70% more than the previous gen), and delivers clock speeds over 2.5 GHz while maintaining the same power requirements of the GeForce RTX 3090 Ti. Ada also introduces the latest generation of RT and Tensor Cores, with the latter introducing brand-new hardware responsible for the next iteration of AI rendering - DLSS 3 and DLSS 3.5.
NVIDIA's DLSS or Deep Learning Super Sampling is one of the reasons why raw power is no longer the be-all-end-all; it's an AI-based form of upscaling that can provide a sizable boost to in-game performance without sacrificing visual fidelity. It can improve upon native rendering. The brand-new DLSS 3.5 Ray Reconstruction dramatically improves ray-tracing image quality (over native rendering) with groundbreaking AI denoiser technology. DLSS 3 Frame Generation uses the power of AI to generate new frames and dramatically improve perceived performance.
For this reason, DLSS and other algorithm-based upscaling and frame generation have become some of the most talked about bits of technology in the PC gaming space. Take Cyberpunk 2077 using the game's Path Tracing (aka full ray tracing) mode with DLSS 3.5, NVIDIA Reflex, and Frame Generation. In this example, seven of eight pixels are AI-generated, meaning path tracing is impossible on today's hardware without these technologies. In the case of the GeForce RTX 40 Series, the addition of DLSS 3 and Frame Generation has proven to be a true game changer.
DLSS 3 combines DLSS Super Resolution (DLSS 2) with NVIDIA Reflex to reduce system latency and the brand-new hardware-accelerated Frame Generation technology. Three bits of rendering tech = DLSS 3. And it's exclusive to the GeForce RTX 40 Series. It gets a little confusing when you throw DLSS 3.5 into the mix, Ray Reconstruction, which greatly improves ray-traced visual quality across all GeForce RTX GPUs. Still, the result is the same - NVIDIA's technology and development tools for rendering, performance, and latency are unmatched in the industry.
Frame Generation is NVIDIA looking to do what it has done for real-time graphics upscaling to the idea of frame-interpolation - or what they call Motion Plus in the TV world. Which, to be fair, is not a fair comparison on account of tech like Motion Plus being - well - terrible. But the fundamental idea is the same, albeit using specialized AI hardware in the GeForce RTX 40 Series graphics cards to generate and create entire frames.
The results are impressive - with dramatic improvements to overall performance (in the frame-per-second stakes) seen in games like Cyberpunk 2077, F1 23, Microsoft Flight Simulator, Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered, Diablo IV, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III, and Alan Wake II.
The Ada generation is much more than "smaller = more," with NVIDIA introducing back-end technology in the form of Shader Execution Reordering - which effectively ensures render tasks happen more efficiently and without running into bottlenecks. This means a leap forward in the real-time rendering of hardware-intensive ray-tracing effects. And there's generative AI, with TensorRT-LLM for Windows accelerating and leading the way to AI computing in the era of the "AI PC."
The Ada generation also levels up NVIDIA's already formidable content creation chops with the arrival of AV1 encoding for better video quality for streamers without sacrificing performance or bandwidth. AV1 encoding is 40% more efficient than traditional H.264, and NVIDIA works with platforms like Twitch to bring the technology to all streamers. Of course, in the age of working from home, it can also dramatically improve video conferencing.
Specs and Test System
Here, we can see how the specs and hardware stack up for the GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER compared to the GeForce RTX 4070 Ti SUPER, the GeForce RTX 4080 it replaces, and the GeForce RTX 4090.
The GeForce RTX 40 SUPER Series refreshes the lineup with the GeForce RTX 4070 Ti SUPER and GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER, replacing their non-SUPER counterparts with revised models and beefier specs. However, the further up the SUPER ladder, the fewer fundamental changes you find. For the GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER, you've got 5.3% more CUDA Cores, RT Cores, and Tensor Cores than the RTX 4080. With this modest increase, alongside a small boost to clock speeds and total memory bandwidth, the difference in in-game performance is similarly modest. Compare this to the GeForce RTX 4070 SUPER, which offered a 20% spec bump for the same price - delivering a notable and exciting performance bump.
And yet, the GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER still feels like an exciting relaunch because the issue was never with the performance it delivered - a 55-60% increase over the GeForce RTX 3080 for 4K gaming. And so with a price reduction of 16.7%, the GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER is an enthusiast card that not only competes favorably with AMD's flagship Radeon RX 7900 XTX but, when paired with a 5% increase to 4K gaming performance, as seen in the premium MSI GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER EXPERT, you've got something that is at the very least a course correction.
As an OC model, the MSI GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER EXPERT ships with an increased clock speed of 2610 MHz that can be pushed to 2625 MHz with the MSI Center software suite. The RTX 4080 SUPER retains the 320W power rating of the GeForce RTX 4080 while also pushing the memory speed to 23 Gbps for an impressive e 736 GB/sec of total memory bandwidth. Pair this with 64MB of L2 Cache, and the 4K gaming chops of the GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER are, yeah, wow.
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER
- Model: MSI GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER 16G EXPERT
- Interface: PCI Express 4.0
- CUDA Cores: 10240
- Tensor Cores: 320 (4th Generation)
- RT Cores: 80 (3rd Generation)
- Clocks: Base Clock: 2295 MHz, Boost Clock: 2610 MHz (2625 MHz with MSI Center)
- Memory: 16GB GDDR6X
- Memory Speed: 23 Gbps
- Memory Interface: 256-bit
- Total Memory Bandwidth: 736 GB/s
- L2 Cache: 64 MB
- Display Connections: 3 x DisplayPort, 1 x HDMI
- Power Connectors: 16-pin 12V-2x6 (3 x PCIe 8-pin cables via adapter)
- Recommended PSU: 750W
- What's in the Box: INNO3D GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER X3 16GB, 16-pin 12V-2x6 adapter, Manual
Kosta's Test System
- Motherboard: MSI MPG X670E Carbon Wi-Fi
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 7900X
- Cooler: Corsair iCUE H100i RGB PRO XT Liquid CPU Cooler
- RAM: 64GB (2x32GB) Corsair DOMINATOR PLATINUM RGB DDR5 DRAM 5200MHz
- SSD: Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus-G M.2 PCIe Gen 4 SSD 4TB, Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus Plus M.2 PCIe Gen 4 SSD 8TB
- Power Supply: Thermaltake Toughpower GF1 850W
- Case: Thermaltake Core P3 Tempered Glass Snow
- OS: Microsoft Windows 11 Pro 64-bit
Physical Design and Cooling
The MSI GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER EXPERT is beautiful, with an all-metal shroud paired with funky, high-quality grills, large fans, and a push-and-pull fan setup reminiscent of NVIDIA's Founders Edition design that it introduces with the GeForce RTX 3080 and GeForce RTX 3090 back in 2020. The card's dimensions are 336 x 142 x 78 mm, weighing 1909 grams; it's more than solid - it's built like a sleek spaceship from a science fiction movie. The build quality is not only premium but also exceptional; there just isn't anything like the MSI GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER EXPERT on the market.
Underneath the hood, you've got Vapor Chamber cooling, which covers not only the GPU module but the memory, too - which we saw the benefit of when stress testing the MSI GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER EXPERT's thermal performance. As seen with NVIDIA's Founders Edition design, the push and pull airflow is designed for a modern closed PC chassis with air coming in one side and then expelled through the rear exhaust and top/other side. It's efficient and effective, and we love seeing a partner like MSI take on this design and make it its own.
Elsewhere, you've got premium components and MSI's expertise in core pipe design, fin shapes, and zero dB fan tech. The shroud is made from aluminum, too, to assist in airflow and flow-through. The MSI GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER EXPERT isn't simply about presenting an OC variant of the GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER with enough cooling and headroom to handle some custom tweaking; it's also about presenting a unique, stylish, and beautiful premium design that means to stand out. And for that, the MSI GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER EXPERT is a one-of-a-kind gem.
Benchmarks - 15 Game Averages
The Games and Tests
PC gaming is a complicated and varied space, from indie games to major blockbuster releases and titles that push hardware and technology to their limit with the adoption of effects like real-time ray-tracing.
This is all a way of saying that the 15 in-game benchmarks we've chosen (and run at 1080p, 1440p, and 4K) represent a wide range of styles, not only in terms of genres, like first-person shooters and racing games but also in the API technology (DirectX 11, 12) and cutting-edge features like ray tracing and upscaling technology.
Results include DLSS and FSR 2, where possible, as both technologies are the sorts of things, especially in 4K, which you'd turn on. Six of the 15 game benchmarks also feature ray tracing, a great way to see the additional benefit of NVIDIA's DLSS and Frame Generation technology. Also, each title is set to ultra-equivalent quality settings to push GPU hardware and minimize CPU bottlenecks at higher resolutions.
Also, it's just fun to max out a game's visual settings and see the results. Here's the breakdown of games, graphics settings, and what's being tested.
- Assassin's Creed Valhalla: Ultra High-quality settings, with the in-game benchmark tool used.
- Borderlands 3: Ultra quality settings, with the in-game benchmark tool used.
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II: Ultra quality setting, in-game multiplayer benchmark tool used. AMD FSR and NVIDIA DLSS results are included.
- Cyberpunk 2077: Ultra quality setting, in-game benchmark tool used. AMD FSR and NVIDIA DLSS results are included.
- Cyberpunk 2077 (RT): Ray tracing Ultra quality setting, in-game benchmark tool used. AMD FSR and NVIDIA DLSS results are included.
- DOOM Eternal (RT): Ultra Nightmare quality setting with ray-tracing enabled, the opening of Mars Core campaign level used to benchmark. NVIDIA DLSS results are included
- F1 22 (RT): Ultra High-quality setting with ray tracing, one lap of the Bahrain track benchmarked. AMD FSR and NVIDIA DLSS results are included.
- Forza Horizon 5 (RT): Extreme quality setting with ray tracing enabled, in-game benchmark tool used. AMD FSR and NVIDIA DLSS results are included.
- Hitman (RT): Ultra-quality settings with ray-tracing, Dubai scene benchmarked. AMD FSR and NVIDIA DLSS results are included.
- Horizon Zero Dawn: Ultimate quality setting, in-game benchmark used. NVIDIA DLSS results are included
- Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy (RT): Ultra quality setting with ray tracing enabled, the in-game benchmark tool used. NVIDIA DLSS results are included
- Rainbow Six Extraction: Ultra quality settings and in-game benchmark tool used. NVIDIA DLSS results are included
- Red Dead Redemption 2: Maximum quality settings, with in-game benchmark tool used. AMD FSR and NVIDIA DLSS results are included.
- The Division 2: Ultra quality settings with in-game benchmark tool used.
- Total War: Warhammer III: Ultra-quality settings with the in-game Battle Benchmark tool used.
15 Game Average FPS - 4K Results
The 4K gaming averages above represent raw performance without DLSS upscaling or Frame Generation. Two important bits of tech add additional value to the GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER, with DLSS Super Resolution (upscaling), in particular, offering free performance without impacting visual fidelity - especially when enabled while gaming in 4K. The 102 FPS average here is second only to the GeForce RTX 4080, so the MSI GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER EXPERT is a triple-digit 4K monster.
Although a modest uplift in the MSI GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER EXPERT is 5.2% faster than the GeForce RTX 4080 for 4K gaming and 7.4% faster than the Radeon RX 7900 XTX. Our 15-game benchmark suite covers a range of games, including those with ray-tracing, to stress and push hardware. The 4K results might be 23.3% slower than the GeForce RTX 4090, but that GPU is now far more expensive than the GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER. And with that, the GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER is now the better value GPU for high-end 4K gaming performance.
Regarding its direct competitor, the MSI GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER EXPERT is a step or two ahead of the Radeon RX 7900 XTX regarding ray-tracing. However, even with non-RT or rasterized performance, the increased specs and performance put it ahead in most games outside of a few outliers like Call of Duty - where Radeon cards perform extremely well. The MSI GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER EXPERT's raw 4K performance is excellent, and to reinforce how performance was never the issue when it came to the GeForce RTX 4080, you're looking at a card that is 61.9% faster than the GeForce RTX 3080.
15 Game Average FPS - 1440p Results
As a card for 1440p gaming or gaming on an ultrawide display, the MSI GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER EXPERT is a beast - however, more cost-effective options deliver at this resolution. The reason is simple: you'll run into bottlenecks and other limitations at this resolution when dealing with this power level. The GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER is a beast but not fully utilized here, and its lead over other GPUs shrinks.
The MSI GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER EXPERT is now just 3.7% faster than the GeForce RTX 4080 for 1440p gaming and 5.9% faster than the Radeon RX 7900 XTX. Its lead over the GeForce RTX 4070 Ti SUPER also shrinks slightly to 16.4%. But here's how the performance gap between the MSI GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER EXPERT and the GeForce RTX 4090 is significantly smaller, too, now sitting at 14.6%. This is enough data to show that the RTX 4080 SUPER and the RTX 4090 are, first and foremost, 4K gaming cards. Sure, they dominate 1440p - but here, cards like the GeForce RTX 4070 SUPER offer more bang for your buck.
That said, 1440p is the sweet spot for GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER path-tracing in games like Cyberpunk 2077 and Alan Wake II, with the intensive full ray-tracing requiring DLSS, Frame Generation, Ray Reconstruction, and Reflex to be playable.
15 Game Average FPS - 1080p Results
Only a handful of games will tap into what the MSI GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER EXPERT offers at 1080p, but even then, this is not a GPU that you'd pair with a 1080p display. These results are more for reference because the difference between the GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER, Radeon RX 7900 XTX, and GeForce RTX 4090 is, at most, a 3.7% difference in performance.
Benchmarks - 3DMark FireStrike
3DMark FireStrike is a synthetic DirectX 11 benchmark, an API that is now a little dated but still relevant because many popular DirectX 11 games are still being played today - like Counter-Strike 2. The 3DMark FireStrike tests cover 1080p, 1440p, and 4K, with the results for the 4K 'Ultra' test highlighted above. The MSI GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER EXPERT's score is 3.5% higher than the baseline GeForce RTX 4080, which aligns with in-game results.
Compared to the Radeon RX 7900 XTX, the score is 8.1% lower, which is a result not reflected in our in-game results. Across the entire RDNA 3 lineup, 3DMark FireStrike scores are higher than they should be.
Benchmarks - 3DMark TimeSpy and Port Royal
3DMark TimeSpy is a synthetic DirectX 12 benchmark, an API more relevant to modern games and more advanced and efficient rendering technologies built into modern GPUs. Here we see 3DMark TimeSpy results across 1440p and 4K, and for the 4K TimeSpy Extreme result, the MSI GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER EXPERT's score is only 2.5% higher than the GeForce RTX 4080 and the Radeon RX 7900 XTX. This reflects the single-digit gains we see with the MSI GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER EXPERT for gaming, with the biggest impact on the card's overall value being the sizeable price cut.
3DMark Port Royal is a synthetic real-time ray-tracing benchmark, and here, the MSI GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER EXPERT's score is roughly on par with the GeForce RTX 4080 but 25.5% higher than the Radeon RX 7900 XTX. Real-time ray-tracing is an area in which GeForce RTX 40 Series GPUs excel, especially on the high-end, and with the technology showing up in more and more titles, pushing cinematic realism and immersion to new heights - NVIDIA cards offer a clear advantage over the competition. And with DLSS and the new DLSS 3.5 Ray Reconstruction, ray-tracing image quality on GeForce RTX GPUs is unmatched.
Benchmarks - 1080p Gaming
Benchmarks - 1440p Gaming
Benchmarks - 4K Gaming
Benchmarks Summary, Ray-Tracing Performance, and DLSS 3
The MSI GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER EXPERT outperforms the GeForce RTX 4080. However, the margin is slim - 5.2% when gaming in 4K. However, this is still enough to make it the second most powerful GPU on the planet behind the GeForce RTX 4090. Although our 15-game benchmark suite covers titles with and without ray-tracing, with detail settings cranked, the performance discussion so far has covered raw numbers without the added benefit of RTX technologies like DLSS Super Resolution, DLSS 3.5 Ray Reconstruction, DLSS 3 Frame Generation, and NVIDIA Reflex.
When gaming in 4K on a GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER, you'd turn on one, two, or all of these performance-enhancing technologies - with NVIDIA's focus on image fidelity, performance, and stability, making it the leader in these fields. If DLSS is available - turn it on.
Enable DLSS 3 Frame Generation, and performance is taken to the next level, with AI generating up to seven out of every eight pixels. Frame Generation does introduce some latency, but Reflex helps keep this down to help sell the feeling of playing a game with double the performance. Image quality and overall smoothness have improved since DLSS 3's debut, and with AMD and even Intel getting in on the frame-gen action, like upscaling, it is set to become a PC gaming staple in the years to come.
Looking at DLSS 3 Frame Generation 4K results across four games with ray-tracing and other detail settings dialed up, Cyberpunk 2077 sees a massive 2.6X increase in performance. A Plague Tale Requiem sees a 2.1X increase in performance, while F1 22 and Hitman see a 2X increase. DLSS 3 Frame Generation uses DLSS Super Resolution, Frame Generation, and Reflex to deliver this result, which can be mind-blowing.
Temperature and Power Efficiency
NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 40 Series is a game changer regarding power efficiency, even for a high-end GPU like the MSI GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER EXPERT. Even though the power usage is higher on average when gaming in 4K, you're still looking at a GPU that delivers a massive increase in performance compared to the GeForce RTX 3080 while using less power. When you cap the usage or perhaps undervolt it, you can dramatically increase the power efficiency thanks to just how well Ada Lovelace scales.
An interesting experiment with the MSI GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER EXPERT was running Diablo 4 ultrawide and capping the frame rate to either 120 or 144 FPS. With the GPU usage lowered, power usage also dramatically decreases - where even something like a 10% reduction in performance can deliver far more power savings. Okay, onto the cooling.
The MSI GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER EXPERT is not only beautiful to look at thanks to its all-metal shroud with stylish vents and large fans, but it employs a very different style of airflow and cooling compared to pretty much every single high-end GPU currently available that isn't a Founders Edition card. The push and pull design is more suitable to a closed-case environment, with the above results captured in a warm room on a hot summer's day in Australia in an open-case environment.
With GPU temperatures sitting around 65-70 degrees, with hot spots and memory temps not much higher, you've got impressive thermal performance in a design that is also quiet.
As a brand-new model and design, the MSI GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER EXPERT is beautiful, powerful, and special. It's great to see a brand-new GPU design in 2024 that isn't simply a revision of what has come before, and we're keen to see the EXPERT range expand and grow in the coming years. NVIDIA's Founders Edition design was too good not to make an impact, and MSI has made it its own here with OC performance and premium quality. This will undoubtedly be highly sought after, so it's great to confirm that it lives up to its promise.
As for the GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER, the third and final release in NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 40 Series refresh, the most notable thing about it is the significant price drop paired with a modest boost to 4K gaming performance. It makes the planet's second-most powerful PC gaming GPU (behind the GeForce RTX 4090) a more attractive and cost-effective solution for high-end enthusiast 4K gaming. So much so that it feels like the GeForce RTX 4080 has been relaunched and no longer stands in the shadow of its beefier sibling.
And when you throw in RTX technologies like DLSS into the mix, NVIDIA's superior AV1 encoding quality, content-creator-friendly features, and performance, plus generative AI capabilities - and there's a lot more to the story here than pure 4K gaming EXPERT-ise.