Ah de Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 (opens in new tab). It is a very good graphics card that delivers excellent generation performance boost, very good power efficiency and unique features like DLSS 3. All good things right? But it’s too expensive.
A wise old reviewer once wrote, “There are no bad graphics cards, only bad prices.” That sums up the RTX 4080 in a nutshell. But while prices may vary over time, the features of the card remain the same. Assuming the price of RTX 4080 drops – and with maybe two years of shelf life ahead, it certainly will – then the RTX 4080 could end up being a gem. Time will tell.
Here I have MSI’s GeForce RTX 4080 Suprim X today, and what a beauty it is. For $1,379 | £1,359| At AU$2,449, it’s one of the more expensive RTX 4080s at the time of writing, but for the extra cash over the Founders Edition you get a card that’s clearly superior. Interestingly, the card’s price has dropped a bit in the UK and AU markets in the weeks since launch, and stock appears to be widely available. Clearly we are not dealing with something like the mining scarcity that we all hated. It certainly points to downward price pressure as we move into 2023. Fingers crossed.
The Suprim X, like all other RTX 4080s, includes the excellent TSMC-built 4N AD103 GPU at its core. It has 9,728 of a possible 10,752 cores available, giving Nvidia an option to release an almost inevitable RTX 4080 Ti in the future. It delivers much better energy efficiency than its RTX 3080 (opens in new tab) predecessor, which featured the much larger GA102 GPU. The RTX 4080 packs in 64MB of L2 cache vs. the 5MB of the RTX 3080. A next-generation GPU is expected to have a better feature set, and with 16GB of GDDR6X memory, improved ray tracing, and the voodoo of the excellent DLSS 3, a 320W TDP and massive cooling power, the RTX 4080 Suprim X meets all those requirements.
That 320W TDP is particularly noteworthy, making the performance per watt much better than the RTX 3080, RTX 3090 (opens in new tab), and their Ti siblings. It makes a mockery of the rumor mongers pointing to ridiculous TDPs in the pre-launch period. It’s an excellent GPU, but did I mention it’s overpriced? Yes. Yes, I did, and I probably will again.
MSI GeForce RTX 4080 Suprim X specs
The MSI GeForce RTX 4080 Suprim X is MSI’s flagship RTX 4080. It sits above MSI’s Gaming Trio and Ventus models. For the extra money, you get a more premium design, superior materials, build quality, and a slightly higher factory overclock. It’s worth noting that MSI includes a very sturdy metal GPU mount to prevent sagging, and a good quality mouse pad.
RTX 4080 Suprim X specs
GPU: NVIDIA AD103-300-A1
Shader Units: 9,728
Increase the clock speed: 2.625MHz
Memory Capacity: 16GB GDDR6X
Memory Speed: 22.4 Gbps
Outputs: 3x DisplayPort 1.4a, 1x HDMI 2.1
Power connections: 1x 16-pin
Price: $1,379| £1,359| €2,449
The Suprim X’s officially rated boost clock is 2,625MHz, but you can get an additional 15MHz on top of that via the MSI Center app. As is often the case, Nvidia’s estimated boost clocks don’t mean much in practice. In our testing, the card was able to maintain a boost clock of 2,745MHz while traversing 3DMark Speedway.
The finish of the card is beautiful. Looks are in the eye of the beholder, but I believe this is the prettiest of all the RTX 4080 cards. It has some RGB as you’d expect, and it’s a very tasteful implementation. There are three small elements next to the fans, one on the top facing the outside of the case and a logo on the back plate.
The card is surrounded by a brushed metal shell and backplate. MSI cleverly left the sides of the card relatively clear of obstructions, effectively allowing hot air to escape. It’s also a large card, taking up nearly four slots.
Like most 4080s, it comes with three DisplayPort 1.4a and one HDMI 2.1 port. Ada Lovelace cards lack DisplayPort 2.0/2.1. You also get dual BIOS, with silent and gaming options, though there’s little need to use the silent option if the default is already silent anyway. A single 12VHPWR connector provides the juice, with MSI bundling in a 3×8-pin power adapter.
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Now look at that cooler! The AD103 will never get away with a single-slot cooler, but at 320W it doesn’t challenge the Suprim X’s 450W+RTX 3090 Ti/4090-class cooler. It is based on a vapor chamber, with no less than ten heat pipes that dissipate heat to the farthest corners of its huge surface.
The VRM and memory chips are cooled via thermal pads and there is an additional frame on top of the PCB that adds rigidity and cools additional components. The backplate also has some thermal padding for rear-mounted heat sink components.
The circuit board itself is a custom design, with 18+3 phases and 50a phases. Simply put, it’s overkill for the requirements of the AD103 GPU, but it’s better to over-spec than under-spec! Just like we saw with the Zotac RTX 4080 Amp Extreme Aero (opens in new tab), the Suprim X includes 24 Gbps GDDR6X memory, faster than the card’s 22.4 Gbps clock speed. This means there should be some OC headroom.
MSI GeForce RTX 4080 Suprim X benchmarks and performance
Of course, a good looking card with great build quality won’t be highly rated if it performs like a turkey. However, we have a good idea of what to expect from the RTX 4080, so let’s dive in.
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The monstrous Suprim X cooler really delivers. A peak temperature of 57°C is one of the best I’ve ever seen from a GPU, high-end or not. That’s a full five degrees cooler than the Zotac Airo. And it succeeds while remaining virtually silent. The CPU cooler fans and pump on my test platform are more noticeable. Granted, 57°C is on an open test bench, so in some cases your temperatures will be a bit higher, but even in the mid-60s it would still be an excellent result for a 320W GPU.
One of the most impressive achievements of the RTX 4080 is its relatively low power consumption, or more specifically its performance per watt. I recorded a maximum system power of 399W for the Suprim X. That’s lower than the Zotac RTX 4080, the RTX 3080, RX 6900 XT, and even the RX 7900 XT. For all the pre-release whispers of runaway RTX 40-series power consumption, the RTX 4080 delivers what appears to be the best power efficiency of any card released to date.
However, that lower power consumption costs a fraction of the performance. The Zotac 4080 uses the extra 20w or so to sneak ahead a percentage point or two in some of the following benchmarks.
Synthetic game performance
1440p gaming performance
4K gaming performance
MSI GeForce RTX 4080 Suprim X Analysis
The RTX 4080 Suprim X delivers very good performance, but it seems that MSI has emphasized cool and quiet operation rather than full performance. Not that that’s a bad thing, although it would be nice if manufacturers used the second BIOS in a more aggressive way, perhaps allowing a 450W power limit. Nvidia may not be happy about that.
PROCESSOR: Intel Core i9 12900K
Motherboard: Asus ROG Maximus Z690 Apex
RAM: 2x 16GB G.Skill Trident-Z DDR5-6000 C36
Storage: 2TB Seagate FireCuda 530
Cooling: Cooler Master PL360 Flux 360mm AIO
PSU: Corsair AX1000
At 1440p even the most demanding titles including Cyberpunk 2077 are possible without DLSS and in many cases even a 12900K CPU will bottleneck the card.
Most games that struggled to break through 60 Hz at 4K can now do so even with ray tracing effects enabled, and that’s before DLSS is enabled.
At the time of writing, I haven’t had a chance to try the Radeon RX7900XTX myself. If you look at our launch day review, you can see that it’s a decent RTX 4080 competitor, although it can’t match Nvidia in ray-traced games. It’s also cheaper, and definitely worth considering if you can live without the superior ray tracing performance of the RTX 4080 and, more importantly, DLSS.
MSI GeForce RTX 4080 Suprim X verdict
Leaving price aside for a moment, the RTX 4080 is an excellent graphics card and the MSI Suprim X is arguably the best of the bunch. It’s built like a battleship, it’s cool, quiet, it looks great, and it has a circuit board that will never be strained by the AD103 GPU’s power requirements.
The second is now done. For $1,379 | £1,359| At AU$2,449 it’s one of the more expensive RTX 4080 cards, meaning Nvidia, or someone in the supply chain, is making a ton of money. But those are today’s prices. I don’t believe they will stay at this level anytime soon. If someone searches for “RTX 4080 Suprim X review” in a year from now, the graphics card landscape and what you get for your money could look very different. At this point, it’s hard to recommend a high-end graphics card from a value-for-money perspective.
At least when you pull the trigger and buy a Suprim X, you know you’re getting an excellent graphics card that can run all games in 4K and is sure to do it for the foreseeable future, arguably the best example of Nvidia’s Ada GPU. Nvidia’s feature set is also hard to ignore. All we need is some good news on the price. When that happens, the RTX 4080 and the Suprim X flavor will go from just good to great.