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MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC Graphics Card Review ~ Computers and More

12 min read

MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC – Slim Design, Slick Performance

Last year Nvidia took the whole PC community by storm when they announced their new lineup of consumer graphics card in form of the RTX series which not only brought they once taxing ray tracing process to consumer’s homes but also made it real time! The cards not only blew everyone in terms of technology but also with their hefty and I mean hefty price tag that went all they way upto $1200 for the RTX 2080Ti the most expensive gaming card from Nvidia ever!
While the availability for ray tracing enabled titles at the time of writing is only restricted to one title namely as Battlefield V and the price tag is still high some manufacturers have opted to offer some variants that are to put it mildly light on the pocket and MSI has thus concentrated more on its more affordable Duke series which offers the middle path between the Aero and Gaming series.
One such card is the MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC which thanks to MIS India happens to be on my table today for review & I’m more than excited to test this beauty! MSI official website lists three Duke models under the RTX 2080 branding with one being the base Duke model and two OC editions namely as Duke OC and Duke OCV1 the latter being a step up in terms of overclocked frequency over the OC model with the rest being the same, strange but maybe its a refresh/revision that MSI is slowly rolling out over their initial model.

Priced in at $830 or Rs 78,500 in India the MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC equipped with 8GB of the latest GDDR6 memory finds itself right in the middle of the cheap and premium RTX 2080 cards out there offering an overclocked frequency right out of the box precisely at 1845Mhz boost which is 135Mhz and 45Mhz over the reference and founder edition cards from Nvidia itself along with superior cooling and other perks. This all makes the Duke a compelling card to consider out of the lot and as of right now at the time of writing MSI is offering Battlefield V and Anthem bundled with the Duke just like its other cards which sweetens the deal a bit further.

What’s in the Box!?

MSI has brought the RTX 2080 Duke OC in a thin cardboard box with a minimalist approach towards designing. The box is mainly black with a green highlight at the bottom right corner with GeForce RTX written in big chunky font while the 2080 is somewhat lost there and I find it quite odd since I myself took a while to find out where the model number was on this packaging! The Duke on the other hand is majorly highlighted in a streaks font and looks really nice. No mention of the OC edition on the outer box is found which is yet again very awkward.

At the back you find the key features such as the triple TORX 2.0 fans, RGB implementation and heatsink design highlighted. A small specifications table along with all the features in bullets are neatly printed at the back for the buyer to read and decide upon.

Inside you would find the card resting in an anti-static bag which is nestled in thick styrofoam block. The card is a bit on the heavier side so this packing should be enough to keep it secure during transit especially considering that you also get a full steel support bracket along with this card to prevent sagging of the card over time.

Closer Look

The first thing you notice about the MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC is its sheer length which is at 31.4cm making it one of the longest RTX cards out there while its just 4.6cm thick making it one of the thinnest RTX cards in the market too hence, its a dual slot card which should be greatly useful for compact system builders.

MSI has done a fabulous job in designing the RTX 2080 Duke with a grey colored industrial finish and just the right amount of RGB to make it look slick yet pleasing. The shroud is made out of premium grade plastic and the three 90mm TORX 2.0 fans look great especially with the streaks of RGB LEDs emanating from the central fan. The heat-sink under the shroud is thick and should do a great job at cooling this card. Its due to this thick heatsink only that this is a heavy card that tips the scale at 1.1Kg so make sure you use that provided support bracket for long term usage.

At the back you will see the metallic back-plate with the MSI dragon logo and Duke marque covering the entire length of the PCB which happens to be shorter than the actual cooler itself since its a reference design PCH with a custom cooler on top hence, the plastic extension at the end to keep the whole unit enclosed. I somewhat like this design as to someone with the card installed horizontally which most of us do, will like this break in design over a straight long metal plate but then its just my personal opinion.

I/O on the graphics card sticks with the reference scheme which includes three Display Port 1.4a, a single HDMI 2.0b and a single USB Type-C port for Virtual Link connectivity to power the head mounted displays for VR gaming and experience.

The RTX 2080 Duke OC is extremely streamlined and stealthy in terms of design with no heat pipes or projections protruding outside the main shroud. Find stack on this card is beefy and dense to provide great air flow without causing any turbulence through smooth passage of air in and out of the body, this should if applied effectively can  reduce the coil wine in case its present. Even the backplate if you observe closely has thermal pads underneath to cover and contact with vital parts underneath such as the VRM components and the GPU itself.

The fans on the MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC are 90mm each and with this triple axial arrangement MSI aims to keep this 245W TDP rated card cool even under load and considering that these are TORX 2.0 fans and spin in the same direction along with the Zero Frozr technology embedded into them I’m pretty sure that it’ll do the job easily. One more thing to notice is that the fan near the IO panel side spins once the card reaches and above 56°C while the rest two will only spin once the card crosses the 60°C mark. This arrangement will give you two separate fan readings in suits like HWMonitor since two fans have a single fan connector on the PCB while the thrid one has its own independent connector.

On the top left side you’ll find the new NVLink connector which is the replacement for the SLI connector present on the previous 10 series cards and below. The RTX 2080 and the RTX 2080 Ti are the only two cards from Nvidia that support NVLink technology in dual card support since these two cards only have enough juice under the hood to drive two identical cards together in harmony and considering the 25GB/s bandwidth that NVLink offers this isn’t a surprise. One needs to get a $79 NVLink connector from Nvida separately to use this function since neither nay AIB partner manufactures one of their own nor it comes bundled with any of the motherboards.

A 6+8 PCIe power connector arrangement feeds this beat with enough wattage to run smoothly even if one attempts to add a manual OC. With this arrangement this card is capable of pulling 300W power which I think is more than required for a card of this stature, MSI rates it at 245W TDP though but I’ll take that with a grain of salt since its clearly visible that the 6-pin connector was probably intended to be a 8-pin one but later on it was converted to a 6-pin one and the BIOS was modified accordingly.

Benchmarks and Overclocking

Installing the MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC was easy and it powered up like a breeze once we booted up the system. One thing to keep in mind is that this card is long and I mean quite long so incase your case has HDD/SSD cage in the front or you have a custom loop cooling solution with the reservoir placed in the front of your case then make sure you have enough clearance to install this card.
GPUZ reported the correct frequencies with 1515Mhz on the clock and 1750Mhz on the memory with boost reaching 1965Mhz courtesy to GPU Boost 4.0

For testing the MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC graphics card our new test bench was as follows –

CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 1800X @3.9Ghz
Motherboard: Asus X370 Crosshair VI Hero
RAM: Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 32GB 3200Mhz
Cooler: Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240R RGB
Graphics Card: MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC
Storage: Kingston A400 256GB
Secondary Storage: Corsair Neutron XTi 480GB
Power Supply: Corsair AX860i 860W
Case: Cooler Master H500M
OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
Sleeved Cables: TweakedPC

Overclocking any RTX card right now is not the easiest of affairs in terms of reaching high frequencies as Nvidia has locked the power target on these cards which is 104% in case of the RTX 2080. This greatly limits one to add more numbers to the frequency to the GPU or the memory due to deficiency of maximum power supplied. My sample isn’t the best out of the lot and hence I could only manage a 140Mhz increase on the clock and anything more than that mostly resulted in crash and system freezes so we settled down to 1655Mhz on the clock and 1985Mhz as the boost frequency which kept us in the 2025Mhz to 2040Mhz range in game courtesy to GPU Boost 4.0

AIDA64 Extreme edition GPGPU

The AIDA64 GPGPU test not only calculates the read, write and copy speed
of the graphics card and processor but is also very useful in observing
the SHA-1 Hash and AES-256 score. These are indications of how well the
GPU can handle number crunching or real life image or video rendering.
Higher score shows a better card.

3DMark Fire Strike & Time Spy

Fire Strike and Time Spy by 3D Mark is a test suit that plays a
cinematic scene to determine the FPS, GPU temperature and CPU
temperature scaling everything via a cumulative score. It is a great
tool to benchmark your GPU since the render is mostly GPU & memory
dependent.

GTA V

Grand Theft Auto V is an open world, action-adventure video game
developed by Rockstar North and published by Rockstar Games. If you like
open world adventure then this is something that you don’t wanna miss
with great graphics, catchy story line and unlimited potential for mods
that keep coming in and out every now and then on the web. Our settings
are as follows with very high quality, 16xAF, 2xMSAA and FXAA enabled.

Battlefield 1 

The predecessor to the latest Battlefield V, Battlefield 1 is a prequel to the
infamous Battlefield 1942 placing the players right in the middle of
World War 1. Based on the latest Frostbite Engine by EA-DICE,
Battlefield 1 takes advantage of DirectX 12 with asynchronous compute to
weave together richly detailed worlds. It is heavily taxing on
current-generation hardware, and you’re handsomely rewarded for
investing more into your graphics setup. Settings are at Ultra preset
with full HD resolution.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Shadow of the Tomb Raider is an action-adventure video game developed by Eidos Montréal in conjunction with Crystal Dynamics and published by Square Enix. It continues the narrative from the 2015 game Rise of the Tomb Raider and is the twelfth mainline entry in the Tomb Raider series.
Based off the Dynamics’ proprietary Foundation engine like its predecessor SOTTR is a visual treat and heavily optimized for PC platform. We are running it at full HD with Highest graphical preset in DX12 mode benchmarked using the game’s build in tool.

Far Cry 5

Far Cry 5 uses an enhanced version of the Dunia 2 engine. Though the game uses DirectX 11 API, the development team have optimized the game extensively to take advantage of hardware capabilities. Furthermore, Far Cry 5 is a testament to achieving proper visual fidelity while keeping overall polygon count in check.   Testing is done at full HD resolution and Ultra High preset using the build in benchmark to keep the results standardized.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey 

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is a 2018 action role-playing video game developed by Ubisoft Quebec and published by Ubisoft. It is the eleventh major installment, and twentieth overall, in the Assassin’s Creed series and the successor to 2017’s Assassin’s Creed Origins.
Using the AnvilNext 2.0 graphics engine the game though better optimized than Origin is still very taxing even on the best of systems out there. We are running the game’s build in benchmark at full HD resolution and Ultra presets.

Battlefield V

Battlefield V is a first-person shooter video game developed by EA DICE and published by Electronic Arts. Battlefield V is the sixteenth installment in the Battlefield series.
Masking use of the ‎Frostbite 3 engine the game is extremely beautiful both in terms of graphics and story-line, I’ve tested the game in D3D12 mode at maxed out settings on full HD resolution.

Thermals

The MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC runs cooler than what you’d expect a RTX card to using a think cooling solution such as that on the duke which is a dual slot card. But the dense fin stack along with the three Torx 2.0 fans the card run cool and well off the thermal throttling mark when at stock or manually overclocked even when its inside a closed chassis such as the Cooler Master H500M and not on an open test bench. The card was allowed to run with the default fan curve & the temperature readings are depicted in delta temperatures since they are more relatable and depict real world scenarios.

My Verdict 

At this point most of us already know the biggest problem that the new RTX lineup faces, the minimal support for ray tracing enabled titles with just one Battlefield V bearing the flag and almost no new title planned to follow its footprint. Also support for DLSS is no where to be heard, seen or looked forward to making it even worse since these two are the characteristic features of the new RTX lineup and sadly the software for this hardware is yet to see the daylight if at all.
Anyways coming back to the MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC in hand here, I’ve to admit that I’m thoroughly impressed by how MSI has managed to carve so much out of the founder edition PCB at just $30 premium over the FE price tag. The card is elegant in terms of looks with its neutral color scheme making it a good choice for system builder and with its slim dual slot design the card can attract a lot more buyer base as it can fit into tight & compact build that require a RTX card all without compromising upon the thermals. It runs cool even under load and the fan profile by not being on the aggressive side keeps it quite too, infact one can’t even hear the fan noise over the case fan noises while gaming which is great.

The backplate looks nice and has thermal pads under it to dissipate heat for real and not just on paper so its a feature and investment worth it. The anti-sag support bracket is a worthy addition to this package as a card this long and I mean long can and will sag over time so its a welcome move that doesn’t really take any extra space in the system unless you plan to add two of these cards!
The silver lining here is well of-course the performance which is near identical and in a few cases lower than that of the GTX 1080 Ti custom models which makes it a tough decision for some to go for the RTX 2080 as a whole due to the obscure roadmap for DLSS and Ray Tracing supported titles as these two technologies alone make this card better and superior to the GTX 1080 Ti models that right now cost less first hand even lesser in the used market. So incase you have the budget and would like to invest in the future then go for the MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC and you won’t regret your decision even once.

“MSI has done a superb job in crafting the RTX 2080 Duke OC with cool industrial looks, efficient cooling solution and great software support all at a little added cost over the FE edition. So if you like long cards with subtle looks and RGB with blistering fast performance right out of the box then the MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC is the card for you!”

Pros – 

  • Solid Build Quality 
  • Subtle RGB implementation 
  • Overclocked out of the box
  • Dual slot design
  • Run cool and quite
  • Meant for 1440p and 4K gameplay

Cons – 

  • Performance is identical to a custom GTX 1080 Ti
  • Price to performance ratio is bad without DXR or DLSS

I give it a 8/10 earning our Gold Award!

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