With its factory overclock, the MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC is consistently faster than the Founders Edition, but only ever by marginal amounts (under 2.5 percent, once averaged out). On the other side, the Palit RTX 2080 Super JetStream has a slightly higher overclock and ever so slightly better performance, but at this stage we’re just splitting hairs. Truth is you wouldn’t notice any in-game difference between any of them outside of recorded benchmarks.
As such, the MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC adopts the characteristics of the Founders Edition card and emerges as a proper 1440p powerhouse. At this resolution, you would benefit from pairing it with high refresh rate monitors. Meanwhile, it also offers very compelling 4K performance, but it does seem like DLSS will be beneficial in really making it shine at this resolution, although we’re only able to infer that from initial testing in a canned demo.
Power consumption is pretty high on this card, and noticeably more than it was on Palit’s despite the two sharing the same TDP. Similarly, the temperature is a little higher than observed on both the Palit card and the Founders Edition, but we suspect MSI is allowing the card to run at “high” temperatures (about 75°C, which is perfectly safe) in order to keep fan speeds and noise down. Indeed, the RTX 2080 Duke OC remains very quiet when placed under load, and it also has the benefit of being totally silent when idle thanks to fans that switch off. There was also absolutely no throttling, with clock speeds maintained at a very constant 1,890MHz or just below.
With the card boosting to between 2,000MHz and 2,070MHz once our overclock was applied, average performance increased between five and nine percent across a few different benchmarks. This was all achieved with no increase in power consumption, which maybe isn’t surprising since we were only able to add four percent to the power limit.
The MSI RTX 2080 Duke OC is a well rounded graphics card. Aesthetically it’s pretty decent thanks to a neutral colour scheme, easy to use RGB lighting, and a backplate. Build quality is good, although very few cards are going to match the FE units on this front. The cooler design is decent as well, and although it doesn’t run cooler, this is probably by design since it doesn’t overheat and does absolutely run a little faster and obviously quieter, as well as having semi-passive fans. The anti-sag bracket is a nice touch as well considering its size and weight. It’s also pleasing that MSI has matched the three-year warranty of the Founders Edition.
Unfortunately for MSI, the general problems that affect all RTX 2080 cards remain and cannot be overlooked. The GTX 1080 Ti is very much a sticking point for this card, offering near-identical performance in the majority of games. While it lacks the forward looking elements of the Turing architecture, it still holds its own very well. Truth is, it remains to be seen how the DLSS and RTX stories will play out, and there’s really not a lot we can do about this until the software catches up with the hardware.
If you have your heart set on an RTX 2080 despite the above, then the next question is whether this model is worth the price bump over the FE. For most customers, it will likely come down to how much they like the design, but if you have noise and/or RGB lighting as high priorities it’s likely to appeal more. We haven’t found it in stock for under £835, but it can be pre-ordered for as low as £800, which seems much more reasonable. MSI has done just enough to make the RTX 2080 Duke OC a compelling alternative to the FE in this price range, so if you are already decided on the RTX 2080, the Recommended badge here is for you – for everyone else, it’s worth considering if it is the right GPU right now or at least waiting before pulling the trigger, as the cost of early adoption is both obvious and something of a gamble at the moment.
May 5 2021 | 09:30