MSI's new Expert series kicks off with the RTX 4080 Super.
In a world filled with many graphics cards from different manufacturers, you'd think there would be no room for more. But MSI thinks there's just one more series missing. Here they have chosen to use the same push-pull fan solution that Nvidia also uses, combined with a complete encapsulation in an aluminium shield that can only be described as a very industrial and stringent design. There's not a lot of art deco or standard RGB design about it, and it's a card that's far more aimed at architects and professional render farms than the home user - unless, like me, you're a fan of this particular design style.
The interior is made like MSI's other top boards, i.e. the Frozr cooling system with massive cooling pipes and heat pipes, as well as the solid quality of the PCB itself. The air intake is covered with a metal mesh. I was worried it would look a little sparse, but it actually looks pretty good. It's got style, to be honest.
The second screw hole on the bracket that attaches the graphics card to the motherboard has also been left intact - thank goodness for that. And there's even a nice kickstand included, as the card has a combat weight of almost two kilos. The price is not 100% fixed at the time of writing this review, but the pricing is the same as an Nvidia FE card, USD 999. But with the caveat that the retailer has to make some money, VAT and import duties as well - so realistically, no, the card won't be quite that cheap overseas.
If I have to say something critical, the aluminium cladding seems rather thin and a bit cheap. It looks great, but feels rather plasticky, which may be due to the aluminium alloy. There are also small holes in the shield around where you screw the card into your case, and I actually lost a screw into one of these holes or it got stuck. In addition, the sticker with the serial number and model number is placed quite high up instead of right around the part of the PCB that goes into the motherboard, and it's very obvious and poorly hidden. If it was my own board, I would have removed it on the spot.
This is an ad:
Otherwise, it's the Super edition of the RTX 4080 as we know it, with 16GB VRAM, 10240 Cuda units, 256-bit interface and PCIe 4.0 interface. There's still only Displayport 1.4a, but you'll only be gaming in 4K anyway, and there's HDMI 2.1a. MSI claims 2610MHz boost clock, 2625MHz with MSI Centre. I don't understand why you should be forced to use an extra programme, more software that takes more resources to get the most out of your card - it's actually not ok. On the other hand, I measured a Boostclock of 2745 Mhz, so I'm not complaining. Sometimes you just get lucky in the chip lottery. However, this is a copy in the full retail package, so I'm very doubtful whether it's a coincidence or a cherry-picked review copy.
In terms of heat and noise, we are at the higher end, 49dB and a maximum working temperature of 71 degrees was measured. This is a little bit above Nvidia's FE model, which can be considered the basic reference, but the card was also slightly overclocked.
And now to the benchmarks.
It's all tested on a Z790 system with an Intel i9 13900K CPU from Intel, 48 GB DDR-6000 DDR5 RAM and all running off an NVMe 5.0 drive.
This is an ad:
Time Spy: 26559
Time Spy Extreme: 13866
Speed Way: 7378
Port Royal: 17967
Total War: Warhammer III
Red Dead Redemption 2
Ultra with Ray-Tracing Ultra/Ultra with zero Ray-Tracing
1080p: 227.5 / 279.69
1440p: 189.01 / 221.76
4K: 110.22 / 132.16
Assassin's Creed Valhalla
Far Cry 6
Overall, it's a very mixed picture. We don't have a lot of data to draw any conclusions, but the MSI RTX 4080 Super 16G Expert performs both worse and better than a standard card, depending on the specific game and resolution. So it's not unequivocally better, and it's minimally noisier and hotter. We should expect the price to end up being higher. But while Nvidia's FE model is probably already sold out by the time you read this, you can actually (soon) buy this card instead. A little more expensive, we expect, but with solid performance regardless. We therefore give this card the same rating as an FE card from Nvidia, and then we'll have to adjust if the card turns out to be stupidly priced.